In normal chess, black isn't that bad, but not that good either. White has the initiative and opening theory dictates how to win these positions. Variants like Chess960 have made it possible to play with common sense rather than grandmaster sense. But still correct play leads to the same result in variants that do not offer a pawn for either side right in the opening. While there are many books that try to convince me that black is OK, still the statistics show other things for normal chess at least. So that leads me to my question. Are there any chess variants where black is considered equal? Not better, just equal.

  • 4
    I've changed "variation" to "variant" throughout your question because when people (including me) see "variation" they tend to think in terms of opening variations, not different rulesets.
    – dfan
    Sep 21, 2014 at 20:55
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    In shogi (japanese chess), black makes the first move. Sep 22, 2014 at 14:38
  • As in both players can be considered equal.
    – MikhailTal
    Sep 22, 2014 at 15:38
  • play bughouse and there will be no problem of black and white advantages. Sep 22, 2014 at 19:04
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    I think that opening theory currently thinks black can reach equality in all normal variations, chess is a theoretical draw. But white has a practical advantage, as statistics show. It's going to be extremely hard to find a variant where we can convince you that neither side has a practical advantage, because 1) someone will have to have the first move and 2) chess variants don't have a lot of available tournament statistics. Sep 24, 2014 at 14:01

4 Answers 4


In Synchronistic Chess, both players make their moves simultaneously. Black must be quite equal in this variant!

Additionally, a bunch of the variants listed on the Wikipedia page could likely be considered "equal" for Black, as they may involve elements of chance that would be far more significant than the first-move advantage normally conferred on White. Some variants have arbitrary rules that change from game to game, though these may be getting so far removed from actual Chess that their inclusion is a bit questionable. ;-)


Here is a link with statistical information about different kind of chess960 positions. If you will look at the very bottom, where white score is the worse ( White score = (White's winning percentage) + (Draw percentage / 2) ), you can see that positions like RBQKBRNN and RNKBBRNQ are statistically favorable for black.

P.S. statistics does not really mean that they are in fact good for black. It might also mean that the engines who played black in these positions where much higher.


There is the variant where the first player plays one move with white, then the second player decides which side they want to continue as. The player who ends up playing black then continues as normal. This way it is to the advantage of white to make a first move that gives both sides equal chances.


Apart from Synchronistic chess, two more variants that fall into this category are Synchronous chess and Parity chess.

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