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White versus Black Percentage of Wins


  • 17 months ago · Quote · #1

    RibEyeRichards

    Hi all, forgive my naivete, but why is white so much more likely to Win.

    When I look at the Explore data, White's percentage is almost always much higher than Black. Nearly regardless of action line taken.

    Is the King/Queen reversal or the white first move the reason for this disparity?

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #2

    -BEES-

    When Black gets to make his first move, White is already controlling some of the center and putting pressure on Black's pieces--limiting his options somewhat.

     

    If played perfectly chess is probably a draw, but there are more pathways that lead to correct play for White. If you've ever heard of the Caltrop coefficient, that is what causes the disparity in W/L percentage. The first move advantage isn't outright lethal for Black, but it is easier for Black to go wrong in the opening and the early midgame. Black has to be more careful to respond to White's initiative, and incorrect play will lead to unsalvageable positions much faster.

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #3

    Estragon

    The first move is clearly the reason for the disparity, which runs around 5% across millions of games. 

    But that is hardly a death sentence for Black at all.  Think of it this way:  out of every 20 games, White will win one by being White, over the other 19 both sides are even.  Not so bad, eh?

    The house edge in most casino games is larger than that, but it doesn't stop the players from crowding in.

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #4

    Irontiger

    Estragon wrote:

    The house edge in most casino games is larger than that, but it doesn't stop the players from crowding in.

    I strongly doubt most casino players would look at probabilities before gambling. But if the margin is too obvious, even gamblers might see it, indeed.

    On topic, I think the statistical reality of White being better than Black is probably a very very marginal factor compared to the players' strength, how much they slept the other night, etc.

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #5

    RibEyeRichards

    Thanks for the great responses.

    What I meant by King/Queen reversal is that they are mirrored instead of being symetric, so wondered if that was significant.

    Googled a bit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-move_advantage_in_chess

    Do you think there are a lot of players here continually starting game in order to get white?

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #6

    Irontiger

    RibEyeRichards wrote:

    Thanks for the great responses.

    What I meant by King/Queen reversal is that they are mirrored instead of being symetric, so wondered if that was significant.

    Huh ?

    If this seems an advantadge to you, just play the game by watching the board in a mirror when being Black... The pieces' movement is unaffected.

    This is the strating position, right ? What do you mean by 'mirrored' instead of 'symmetric' ?

    EDIT : oh, I guess I got it. You probably mean that White's advantadge would be smaller (or not) if each king was facing a queen, and the reverse, adapting the castling rules.

    I believe it would be bigger due to a higher tendancy of opposite castling thus sharp play, but there is no way to be sure by such metaphysical arguments.

    Of course, one could ask the question by permutating knights and bishops, or other tricks like that...

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #7

    Irontiger

    Moses2792796 wrote:
    Irontiger wrote:

    On topic, I think the statistical reality of White being better than Black is probably a very very marginal factor compared to the players' strength, how much they slept the other night, etc.

    Obviously in any particular game the difference is practically irrelevant, unless it is at a very very high level where such a small advantage can mean something (Super GMs and engines).  However, the fact that over the course of millions of games white consistently wins slightly more would imply that the first move does confer an objective advantage.

    Yes, exactly my point. There is an advantadge, but we cannot "feel" it when we play, us mortals <2000.

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #8

    RibEyeRichards

    Irontiger, yes, that was it, if the kings faced the queens then it would be a 180 rotation symmetry versus a mirror symmetry. I think this was probably introduced to make gameplay more interesting as the 180 symmetry would result in copying all your opponents moves and be boring.

    I read in the wiki article that having white on average is worth 35 ELO. That's fairly significant no matter what level you are at since near equal players are usually paired.

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #9

    Irontiger

    RibEyeRichards wrote:

    Irontiger, yes, that was it, if the kings faced the queens then it would be a 180 rotation symmetry versus a mirror symmetry. I think this was probably introduced to make gameplay more interesting as the 180 symmetry would result in copying all your opponents moves and be boring.

    I read in the wiki article that having white on average is worth 35 ELO. That's fairly significant no matter what level you are at since near equal players are usually paired.

    1st paragraph : try it once, lose all your games, and understand why you cannot just copy the moves, in either variant.

    2nd paragraph : that is pretty much insignificant. 100 Elo means a 15% imbalance, so 35 Elo is very roughly 5% (that's not linear, but let's say it is). This means you have to play 20 games before winning one more. You find this significant ? Compared to other factors such as the sleep, etc. ? Not me.


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