Fischer famously scribbled "best by test" on one of his score sheets after playing 1. e4.

Yet when I look at chess.com's database of games, 1. d4 yields a larger win %age for while than does 1. e4.

Was Fischer wrong? If not, what changed to make this so?

  • 6
    Best is 1.Na3. It wins 60% of games. ;-)
    – Mark Byers
    May 13 '12 at 1:46

Aside from the fact that the difference is only .3% at master level games on chess.com's db, I think Fischer was referring to his own personal results.

A search on chess tempo for Fischer's games reveals that this is the case: http://chesstempo.com/gamedb/player/239563

  • e4 (51.3% win)
  • d4 (15.4% win)

update: The statistics above are skewed because Fischer never played d4 as white. See comments. Still, my initial point is valid. It was his preferred opening. I don't think .3% makes him wrong.

  • 4
    Those numbers include all of Fischer's games - both black and white. Fischer hardly ever played 1.d4, so the reason that 1.d4 scores so lowly is that most of those games featured Fischer playing black.
    – Andrew
    May 13 '12 at 2:38
  • Ah. Good point. May 13 '12 at 2:40
  • In fact, there's only one game where he played 1. d4 as white in that database, and it was a draw. May 13 '12 at 2:45
  • Also, referring to the chesstempo database, white's 1. e4 wins a tiny amount more, but black loses 3% more often. Just an observation.
    – Tony Ennis
    May 13 '12 at 15:17
  • @TonyEnnis Do you mean black wins 3% less? I.e. that there are more draws with e4 than with d4? Yes, the correct "scoring" percentage for a move is wins+(draws/2), not just wins. (All scaled to total games of course.)
    – Jeff Y
    May 13 '16 at 15:29

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