The Instigator
DakotaKrafick
Pro (for)
Winning
11 Points
The Contender
madamouiselle
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

In standard Chess, the one who plays White has an inherent advantage over the one who plays Black.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
DakotaKrafick
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/9/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 928 times Debate No: 29050
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)

 

DakotaKrafick

Pro

Resolution

The full resolution for this debate is as follows: "In standard Chess, the one who plays White has an inherent advantage over the one who plays Black."

Definitions

Inherent: existing necessarily as a property of a thing or phenomenon.

Advantage: any state, circumstance, or opportunity that is favorable or benifital in achieving a desired end.

"The one who plays White" is the player in control of the white pieces (occasionally hereafter referred to simply as "White" while his/her opponent sometimes referred to as "Black"). White is the one who, by standard Chess rules, makes the first move.

Any other word not specifically defined will assume its most common dictionary definition for the context of this debate.

Debate Structure

In this debate, I will be arguing that making the first move is an action which provides White with an inherent advantage not sufficiently counter-balanced by Black's assets, and so Black must therefore play that much better to achieve a superior position.

Whether or not a Chess beginner can realize or utilize White's inherent advantage is irrelevant to this debate. Perfect play, though widely unknown, is assumed.

Further rules are as follows:

1. The burden of proof will be on me.

2. Any tactic which could be reasonably seen as semantics is forbidden.

3. Con must use his/her first round for acceptance only. Later rounds are to be used however we see fit.

4. 8,000 characters and a 72-hour period are alloted for each round of debate. The voting period will last two weeks.

I wish my future opponent good luck, and have fun!
madamouiselle

Con

I accept this. I disagree but can't say this round...
Debate Round No. 1
DakotaKrafick

Pro

Thank you, madamouiselle, for making this debate possible. Before we get into the core of this debate, allow me to offer this preamble:

If we were to turn the resolution around and ask ourselves, "In standard Chess, does Black have an advantage over White because he plays second?" I feel the responses would be unanimous: of course not, why would he?

Yet when asked “Does White have an advantage over Black because he plays first?” the answer comes less quickly. The average Chess player, particularly one sensitive to the subject, would be inclined to argue the playing field is even, though this is usually grounded more in want than reason. "Whoever should win a Chess will do so on skill and skill alone. No other factor plays a role." That is what many of us wish to believe.

Then what reason do we use to dismiss the significance of White’s first move? It is a move like any other, and just as significant. Because of it, however many moves Black has thus far played (X), White will have played either X or X+1. He therefore has speed above Black, initiative above Black. Keep this in mind while reading the coming arguments and White's first-move advantage will become clear.

Now, without further ado, I present my arguments:

1. Control of the game


Throughout the course of a chess match, control of the game may switch from one player to another, as he/she gains a superior position or initiates a powerful attack. It can be said that whichever player whose moves are forced is not in control of the game. And by using the initiative granted by the first move, White can more easily force his opponent’s moves in the opening.

My argument here can be summarized with the following syllogism:

P1: The player who is more capable of forcing his opponent’s moves is in control of the game.
P2: At the start of a Chess match, the player who is more capable of forcing his opponent’s moves is White.
C: At the start of a Chess match, White is in control of the game.

The above syllogism is logically airtight, so if the premises are granted, the conclusion cannot be avoided. Warrants for the premises are as follows:

P1: The player who is more capable of forcing his opponent’s moves is in control of the game.


Take, as an obvious example, a player who is in check. He can’t make any move that pleases him. He must somehow move himself out of check. Many checkmates that are read four or five moves ahead involve putting the opponent in check on almost every turn (if not every turn), because it forces your opponent to make an obvious, and therefore easily planned for, move. The one constantly in check is simply doing what he has to, and what his opponent wants him to do. Therefore, his opponent, the one doing the checking, is (at least temporarily) in control of the game.

One doesn’t necessarily have to have a superior position to be in control of the game. For example, consider a match where one of the players has more minor pieces than his opponent and iis just one move away from an unpreventable checkmate. The only available option to the other player (in this hypothetical scenario) is using the queen to check the opposing king (to which he only has one legal response). Then, check again (to which he moves back to his original position). Check, check, check, back and forth, until stalemate. Though his position was inferior, by forcing his opponent’s moves and thereby taking control of the game, he was able to gain a more satisfactory conclusion than the alternative.

To synopsize, having control of the game is how a player can gain a superior position or quickly reach some other desired end without unwanted retaliation. And to do this, he must be more capable of forcing responses from his opponent than visa versa.

P2: At the start of a Chess match, the player who is more capable of forcing his opponent’s moves is White.


By playing the first move, White sets the course for not only the opening, but the entire rest of the match. After e4 (the most common opening for White), Black does have a few options, some more popular than others, some of which may even necessitate a certain response from White, but they are all moves in response to e4, and therefore are all moves that can be said to have been forced by White and could be easily predicted by him.

Because it is Black who is forced to play more defensively, to respond to White’s moves within certain responses, it is therefore White who is more capable of forcing his opponent’s moves than visa versa.

C: At the start of a Chess match, White is in control of the game.


2. Initiative


Consider if you could pass in Chess (not make any move at all but still declare your turn over), except during a Zugzwang position (a position where it would actually be disadvantageous to make a move). Would anyone do it? No, of course not, why would they, unless to purposely hand some advantage over to the opponent?

The same reasoning applies to the first move as well. Why would White pass his first move? He wouldn’t, unless to freely give up an advantage.

The syllogism for this argument is as follows:

P1: In an even, non-Zugzwang position, it would be more advantageous to make the next move than not.
P2: The start of a Chess match is an even, non-Zugzwang position.
P3: It is White’s turn at the start of a Chess match.
C: At the start of a Chess match, it is more advantageous to be White than not.

Again, this argument is logically valid, so unless one of the premises are untrue, the conclusion must be accepted.

P1: In an even, non-
Zugzwang position, it would be more advantageous to make the next move than not.

A non-Zugzwang position is one where there are moves the players want to make, or at least one move the players want to make. Therefore, it should be obvious that being the one able to make these wanted moves first would be preferable.

P2: The start of a Chess match is an even, non-
Zugzwang position.

This seems not only true, but obviously true. The two starting positions at the beginning of a Chess game are perfectly mirrored off each other, and so must be seen as even. If my opponent wishes to dispute this, please do so next round, but I don’t feel wasting more effort on this point is necessary for now.

P3: It is White’s turn at the start of a Chess match.


This is, by standard Chess rules, an indisputable fact and was outlined in the instigation.

C: At the start of a Chess match, it is more advantageous to be White than not.


3. Grandmaster statistics


If it were true that White does indeed have an inherent advantage, however minute, then we’d expect this to be reflected in the game records of the world’s greatest players. And, in fact, it is, quite clearly:

In the 2009 CEGT chess engines tournament (where the greatest Chess computers were pitted against each other), we found White won 34.7 percent of the time, while Black won only 24 percent (the remaining 41.3 percent being draws). [1]

Currently, of the 668,956 games logged into the database on ChessGames.com (where the ELO rating of the average player is 2211), White wins 37.35 percent of the times, whereas Black wins only 27.40 percent (the remaining 35.25 percent being draws). [2]

The difference in winning percentages here is certainly not small enough for my opponent to dismiss as coincidence.

Over to you, madamouiselle.

Sources:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.chessgames.com...

madamouiselle

Con

madamouiselle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
DakotaKrafick

Pro

Typically, I dislike it when I see debates in the challenge period that are impossible to accept until the instigator chooses someone, but I'm starting to see the appeal of it now.

Sigh... extend everything I said.
madamouiselle

Con

madamouiselle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
DakotaKrafick

Pro

Extend once again. Anyone want to actually debate this resolution? Go ahead and leave a comment if you do.
madamouiselle

Con

madamouiselle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by DakotaKrafick 4 years ago
DakotaKrafick
At the last minute, I decided to axe this paragraph, but I'll re-include it just for you, LoR:

"Whether or not a Chess beginner can realize or utilize White's inherent advantage is irrelevant to this debate. Perfect play, though widely unknown, is assumed."
Posted by Logic_on_rails 4 years ago
Logic_on_rails
'Inherent' is the word that raises questions. If we assume perfect play from both sides then we might well expect a draw, although we can't prove this unlike, say, hex where we know the first player can win. An 'advantage' would therefore only apply to less than perfect players. With these players other factors, particularly at lower levels, are more important in determining victory. All that said, one might cede an advantage to Pro here, based on Famer's comments. So, the question becomes what size of advantage and player strength is presumed for the purposes of the debate...

All that said, I can't accept this debate for another few weeks, although I may read it.
Posted by famer 4 years ago
famer
This has already been proven to be true through statistics of master-leveled games. I don't see how CON has any chances of winning, even if the entire BOP is on PRO. :/
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by tmar19652 4 years ago
tmar19652
DakotaKrafickmadamouiselleTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Ff
Vote Placed by Xerge 4 years ago
Xerge
DakotaKrafickmadamouiselleTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit