The Instigator
DakotaKrafick
Pro (for)
Winning
33 Points
The Contender
JonMilne
Con (against)
Losing
6 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 9 votes the winner is...
DakotaKrafick
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/24/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,774 times Debate No: 34117
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (19)
Votes (9)

 

DakotaKrafick

Pro

I. 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."

II. Definitions

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

Advantage: any state, circumstance, or opportunity that is favorable or beneficial 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.

III. 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 an objectively superior position.

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 will be allotted for each round of debate. All arguments and sources must be made within these 8,000 characters; nothing within in the comment section should be counted. Any glitch which would allow a debater to bypass this 8,000 character limit (including posting "pictures" of nothing but text a la Apeiron) is strictly prohibited.

Breaking any of these rules will result in an automatic loss (via voters awarding all 7 points to the other participant). By accepting this debate, my opponent accepts and agrees to these rules.

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

Con

Despite perhaps not being as experienced in terms of playing chess as others, including my opponent, I believe I can submit a convincing case that it's actually better in chess to be holding on to Black pieces than to White. If Pro could message me about how to submit pictures in debates, that would be enormously helpful.
Debate Round No. 1
DakotaKrafick

Pro

Thank you, JonMilne, 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? (My opponent has said he will try to show that it is actually advantageous to be Black in Chess, despite it being superfluous to his onus in this debate; this would be very interesting if he could as I've never seen a convincing argument for Black having an advantage.)

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 wins a game of Chess will do so by 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:

I. 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 certainly 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 is 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.


II. 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 is 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 of 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.


III. 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.

Now over to you, JonMilne.

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

Con

I'm really sorry. I've realised I'm way in over my head with this debate. It doesn't help that on Sunday afternoon I also suffered a seizure which means I'm nothing like able to form any kind of structured, coherent argument. As such, I concede this debate to Pro, and advise him to start this debate again with someone who'll be able to give him the quality of debate he deserves.

My deepest apologies,

Jon
Debate Round No. 2
DakotaKrafick

Pro

Very sorry to hear that happened to you, Jon. Hope you get better soon.
JonMilne

Con

Posting this to speedy up the ending of the debate.
Debate Round No. 3
JonMilne

Con

End debate
Debate Round No. 4
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by SeriousKarate 3 years ago
SeriousKarate
A players' hard work, intelligence, experience, opening strategy and preparedness for the match are all far more important factors than who moves first. You are correct that white usually has tempo over black, but the effect is almost negligible in competitive play.
On a side note, black sometimes has the advantage in Fischerandom/Chess960 due to white's sometimes unprotected pawns.
Posted by DakotaKrafick 3 years ago
DakotaKrafick
Daktoria, you should have your voting privileges revoked. Jon conceded the debate for chrissake and you vote for him anyway, making up your own arguments he never made in the RFD...
Posted by DakotaKrafick 3 years ago
DakotaKrafick
I agree, Jon. His comment was completely uncalled for.
Posted by JonMilne 3 years ago
JonMilne
jdog2016, why on earth would I lie about something like a seizure? While I do not suffer them to the extent that considerably more unfortunate epileptics do, I do still suffer them and have to take medication in order to prevent them happening more often. That kind of thing is really traumatic and it bloody hurts in the aftermath of having one.

There was no need for your comment either in the comments or in that vote. No need at all.
Posted by Bullish 3 years ago
Bullish
Also in the Chinese version black needs 187 points out of 361 to win.
Posted by DakotaKrafick 3 years ago
DakotaKrafick
"Highly doubt con had a seizure. More than likely, it was an excuse, because he/she realized he/she was indeed in over he/she's head."

No need to accuse anyone of lying. He didn't need an excuse to protect his pride or reputation; he had already conceded he was in way over his head. He ended the debate politely and honorably, and I don't appreciate him being called a liar.
Posted by DakotaKrafick 3 years ago
DakotaKrafick
Go was invented far before Chess was and black moves first in Go.
Posted by jdog2016 3 years ago
jdog2016
Highly doubt con had a seizure. More than likely, it was an excuse, because he/she realized he/she was indeed in over he/she's head.
Posted by leojm 3 years ago
leojm
Well wonder when the game of chess was made? lol
But I guess you do have a point. :/ I've never really thought of it that way.
Posted by Illegalcombatant 3 years ago
Illegalcombatant
In chess its black vs white, and white gets to move first.

RACIST !!!
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Vote Placed by GOP 3 years ago
GOP
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro used sources and actually argued. Both had good spelling and grammar. Conduct is the same, because both of them were respectful. Con humbly apologized as he had a seizure, admitting that he was way over his head. Pro said that he was sorry and hoped that JonMilne would get better soon.
Vote Placed by Daktoria 3 years ago
Daktoria
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Reasons for voting decision: The problem with Pro is he doesn't explain why initiative is intrinsically beneficial. He assumes that being forced into predictable positions is intrinsically bad and that people should intrinsically move in order to control the game, but this ignores the potential for anticipating a counterattack. In fact, Pro makes an unnecessary leap in assuming that Black is intrinsically defensive. Yes, conventional chess strategy agrees with Pro with regards to time, but this ignores the value of information. By moving first, White has revealed information to Black which Black can respond to. If anyone's predictable, it's White, not Black. Black's position is like predicting the weather after it's already happened. Pro then provides statistics, but this ignores how any finite sample of experience is not an infinite population. Evidence is not reliable when considering probabilistic scenarios to come to necessary judgments.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro did an especially good job of setting up the challenge, structuring arguments, and presenting data in support of his position. It's kind of a shame to waste that effort on this topic; it's pretty much indisputable that white has an advantage in chess. Anyway, I was impressed that white has more of an advantage than I ha thought. Con essentially forfeited, but completed every round so as no to lose the conduct point.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct and argument for concession. Not enough sources to earn the point.
Vote Placed by jdog2016 3 years ago
jdog2016
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Reasons for voting decision: Highly doubt con had a seizure. More than likely, it was an excuse, because he/she realized he/she was indeed in over he/she's head.
Vote Placed by SaintMichael741 3 years ago
SaintMichael741
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Reasons for voting decision: Same as ClassicRobert
Vote Placed by Maikuru 3 years ago
Maikuru
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Reasons for voting decision: Con dropped arguments
Vote Placed by Bullish 3 years ago
Bullish
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Reasons for voting decision: Con concedes for legitimate health reasons.
Vote Placed by ClassicRobert 3 years ago
ClassicRobert
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Reasons for voting decision: Con gets conduct for concession and apology. Pro gets arguments because of the concession. He also gets sources because he used sources