White player wins much more often. Is there a kind of statistics of how much more often? Mentally it seems to be half a point per game. At the same time, it is very easy to lose a tempo during the game. Castling long often leads to King b1 as an extra defense, for example. One tempo is immediately decisive in a zugzwang endgame, but a tempo from the very first move when all the peaces are in a useless mess, should quickly be diluted after a few moves, I would think.

A tempo advantage is normally temporary, one has to immediately turn it into a lasting advantage in material or position. Like keep on checking. So how come the one tempo advantage of white on the first move shows so clearly on the scoreboard?

I wonder if white's advantage says something generally (statistically) about the value of a tempo won during the game. If black wins a tempo in the midgame, shouldn't then black have the advantage as if he played white?


2 Answers 2


At the amateur level games are often decided by tactics. From simply hanging a piece at beginner level through to more complicated tactics at club level.

At the professional level players don't often lose material. If they are down material, they tend to have some compensation for this. Therefore professional players have learned to take advantage of every little thing, whether it is slightly more space, the bishop pair or just one tempo.

That is why white's first move advantage is important. It is one small advantage that a strong player will nurse over many moves until it becomes something more concrete, e.g. one more tempo becomes a small spatial advantage, which then becomes pressure on the king position, which later may result in a player losing a pawn etc.


Having the first move often leads to another kind of advantage. This could be a lead in development, space, better placed pieces, or just pressure.

Due to the first move advantage, white scores 53% to black's 47%.

White moving the king to b1, for more safety, loses a tempo, but castling on the queenside gains a temp by having the rook on an open file. In many Sicilians, white moves the king to h1 for safety, but pushing the f pawn activates the rook. Giving one advantage for another.

In an endgame, there are many examples where the game is decided by one tempo, however they also teach you how to lose a tempo by triangulation with the king or by the bishop.

The main advantage of the tempo is by the pressure. By using the extra tempo to apply pressure on your opponent, you will force them to make subpar moves, which may force them to make some concession.

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