Most people say chess is a draw, and it is quite believable, white is but a tempo up, and skill plays a lot of part in the game. But even the most skillful agree that blunders are made, in some games more than other.

How have blunders affected black losses? Have games where black lost been only played best or second best moves?

How many games, out of the ones that white won, ended because of blunders, and could have been saved otherwise? Is there a statistic for this?

  • 5
    I don't like this question because there is no way to know the answer. Even the latest computer analysis isn't really close to being able tell us definitively whether certain moves were blunders or not.
    – Cleveland
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 15:30
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    "The entire search" would take magnitudes longer than a month. You're talking about solving chess. For example--how would you define the best or second best move after 1. e4? You could say that 1... c5 is best and 1... e5 is second best. Are you going to be able to prove, though, that 1... e6 or 1... c6 is an empirically worse move?
    – Cleveland
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 17:48
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    Where is the arbitrary limit of depth-ten (and what do you mean by that: 10-ply or 20-ply?) coming from? Why would ten moves be sufficient to identify a blunder? I just can't see how this question is defined precisely enough to answer. Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 21:35
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    @MikhailTal If you use computer evaluations to identify blunders, then surely blunders should be defined in terms of change in evaluation. There is no way you can keep a position stable at say -1.96. Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 13:34
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    If it's too late to fix anything, then surely the evaluation is very low, or? Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 7:25

6 Answers 6


We have no way of knowing this, chess isn't remotely close to being solved. We only know that as opening theory digs deeper, it finds it harder and harder to find advantages for white, so the game is probably a draw. But that's no proof.

If the game is a draw, then any game that is won by either side must involve at least 1 wrong move. But we don't know which move was wrong. It is likely that most games involve quite a few bad moves. Mine do, anyway.

Using a computer doesn't help -- they're nowhere near strong enough. A match between the two strongest computers on really strong hardware gives many decisive results, so they're not playing perfectly, and they look much deeper than 10 ply. Their scores (+2, -2, etc) are merely estimates and not the final truth.

White does have a practical advantage, proven by the fact that white consistently scores a little bit better than black on all levels. Apparently, white gets positions that are easier to play right.

  • Interesting idea. I will probably accept this if I get nothing better.
    – MikhailTal
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 13:14

Imagine a game of Tug Of War played where Black starts twice as close to the dividing line as White does. If both teams "play perfectly", it will be a draw and neither side will be drawn over the line. But in practice the Black team has a lower margin for error than White does and is more likely to lose than White is. That is the case in chess. Black doesn't lose more because he blunders more often, he loses more because he has less room for error.

  • Agreed. At a game-theoretic level we can conclude that a game is a draw with perfect play, but that's not the same as concluding that the game doesn't give either player an advantage. You can probably quantify how much harder black needs to work to find a draw (or better), but as RemcoGerlich points out, chess hasn't been analyzed well enough to do that in practice.
    – hobbs
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 1:01

Yes. In chess, white has the advantage.


  1. Cause they play first, so they can narrow the huge amount of possible lines, by choosing the initial movement (one in twenty possible) what causes the game start being a little predictive.

  2. The second movement (first by black) depends largely on this white's initial movement. So, we can say that already (in black's first movement) they are restrain to a fewer set of moves (not in the legal way, but in the tactical or strategic way).

  3. Because we are humans, and we do get distracted by little psychological advantages. Like playing first. I do agree, that if played perfectly, chess should always be draw. But humans or computers, due to the incredible large amount of possible games, are so far away from a perfect game of chess, we should not consider chess as a theoretical finite game, and we should take deeply in consideration all the human variables that get's in play.

  4. Math!. Statistics shows that. If you take a look at statistics, white does wins more than black, enough to say that there is a relation between who moves first and who wins.
  5. Theory. Much material by Grand Masters who have spend their lives in chess, do get a clear advantage to white, and spend whole chapters/books on: for white, how to use the advantage to win, for black, how to draw.

  6. White can even play relaxed in the begging, like playing 1. Nf3 or similar, so it can pass the initial stress to the opponent.

I will edit, to show some references, and review my English.


Black is not necessarily disadvantaged ie You want to play Ponziani's Opening or the Scotch Game or other similar e4 game. Black replies with a Modern or a Pirc or something similar none open game,or even the Petrof defence! White is now disadvantaged as he has to steer away from his 'favourites' and into the KIA. You have to know far more games openings on the Kings side than on the Queens side,- fact. I have seen stats that say that more white wins come from the queens side,despite all the forore about the attacking Kings side. Apart from that, common sense tell us that if there were a 'forced win' in chess, for either side,then simply nobody would play the game. Less room for error, in Blacks case - Yes I agree with dfan. Thus we have the answer we seek, and that is this:- YOU WIN OFF OF YOUR OPPONENTS MISTAKE. Cheers.


There is a theory that white would have the disadvantage, because he's the first to ruin his/her position. This is based on the concept of zugzang:

"Zugzwang (German for "compulsion to move", pronounced [ˈtsuːktsvaŋ]) is a situation found in chess and other games, where one player is put at a disadvantage because he must make a move when he would prefer to pass and not to move. The fact that the player is compelled to move means that his position will become significantly weaker. A player is said to be "in zugzwang" when any possible move will worsen his position.[1]"

Although this has not actually been proven.

For more information on zugzang:


  • This is a theoretical curiosity that cannot be excluded, but that nobody actually believes is true. Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 9:35
  • I don't know why nobody believes it. Seems logical enough to me.
    – warspyking
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 11:18
  • Black can achieve checkmate in 2 moves. White cannot. This is because white damages his position first.
    – warspyking
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 11:21
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    This has no relevance. White does not damage his position with sensible play. Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 12:08

Yes, black does really have a dissadvantage. This is because white always goes first allowing white to be able to gain a checkmate

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