The Instigator
DakotaKrafick
Pro (for)
Winning
13 Points
The Contender
Rm150300
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: 5/29/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 592 times Debate No: 34335
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)

 

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!
Rm150300

Con

I accept the definitions and rules the pro had put forward.
Debate Round No. 1
DakotaKrafick

Pro

Thank you, Rm15, 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 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, Rm15.

Soucres:
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.chessgames.com...
Rm150300

Con

Rm150300 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
DakotaKrafick

Pro

Ah for chrissake... I'll never get a good debate out of this resolution... extend all that stuff I said.
Rm150300

Con

Pro. I am sorry for forfeiting our previous round. I was unable to reach a computer for a long length of time.

You stated in your point one in your first argument, that 'the player who is more capable of forcing his opponents moves is in control of the game.'
I believe this statement to be completely true. I am completely agreeing with you. Is the point of chess not to control the other player?
You the state that white is granted this control because of the first move. There are many, many, many ways to control the white after its first move. I actually prefer to play black, as I can decide which strategy will work when they place the first piece. A first move is hesitant. They do not yet know what they want to do, so can make a fatal mistake when placing their piece. We are not arguing about professionals here. We are arguing that having the white pieces will give and advantage to ANYONE. This is not true.

In your second argument, you state that it is more advantageous to be white at the start, as you can make the first move. But who is saying this is a good thing? Many people do not WANT to make the first move, as I have stated before, because it sets the whole game, as you stated before.

Not small enough? Of course they are. How do we know that the ones in white weren't infinitively more experienced the ones in black?

Sorry to keep you waiting.

Sources:
My brain.
Debate Round No. 3
DakotaKrafick

Pro

Before diving into the core of this round, I'd first like to address something rather misleading my opponent said: "We are not arguing about professionals here. We are arguing that having the white pieces will give an advantage to ANYONE."

As was thoroughly outlined in the instigation, I am arguing that White inherently has an advantage over Black by virtue of having the first move, not that every player on planet Earth can fully utilize this advantage. One of the salient points I raised in this debate is grandmaster statistics because if White does have an inherent advantage, we'd naturally expect this to be reflected in their game records; we wouldn't necessarily expect this to be reflected in the game records of beginners or intermediate players who are prone to make mistakes and are overall not qualified to fully utilize any advantage they might have.

This isn't to say, though, that beginners don't inherently have an advantage when playing the white pieces; merely, they can't fully utilize it. Tic-Tac-Toe for instance should (as we all know) result in a tie, though it's likely untrue that every Tic-Tac-Toe game between beginners results in a tie.

I. Control of the Game


To recap my opponent's response to this argument: he conceded the truth of the first premise, but took exception to the second by stating it is possible to control White on Black's first move. But I already addressed this in my original argument; yes, Black has certain options available to him that may necessitate certain responses from White. But even those options are inherently in response to White's first move. An opening line is not initiated by Black; it is initiated by White. My opponent has done nothing to show this is not the case.

II. Initiative

I hate to say it, but my opponent did very little to scratch the surface of this argument. Instead of attacking any of the three premises, he merely restates that there are some players who prefer to play Black, which is irrelevant to say the least unless these players he refers to play flawlessly.

It seems he wants to object to the first premise, that it would be better to play the next move in an even, non-Zugzwang position, but offers no actual objection to it. Just imagine you and your opponent are in an even non-Zugzwang position; there are good moves you want to make; there are good moves your opponent wants to make. If it happens to be your turn, would you pass if you were legally allowed to? Of course not; there are good moves you want to make.

To deny the truth of the first premise would to be to accept its absurd negation: In an even, non-Zugzwang position, the next move played, no matter how good, does not effect the outcome of the game. This is, of course, false. Every move played effects the outcome of the game and every move White plays should benefit White in some way.

III. Grandmaster Statistics

My opponent raises one objection to the legitimacy of the statistics I presented: perhaps the skewed win/loss ratio in White's favor is caused by an equally skewed tendency for the stronger of the two players in matches to take White. In other words, how do we know grandmasters who take White keep winning because they have an inherent advantage and not because they are coincidentally stronger than their opponents?

Most importantly, that's merely calling the heavily skewed percentages a result of coincidence, which seems dubious on its face. If you take a look at my sources, you will see the sum of all games in all the examined Chess tournaments and databases exibit a win/loss ratio in White's favor. Due to the time restraints of being born mortal, I can't go through each and every game to prove White's ELO was not much higher than Black's in all the tens of thousands of games on record; but nor can my opponent prove that they were.
Rm150300

Con

Rm150300 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by GOP 3 years ago
GOP
Btw, you guys do know that a move in chess is defined by two moves, right?

White makes one move, and black makes one move. That's considered as an individual move.
Basically, white making a move is technically half a move.

It goes like this on the scoresheet:

1. e4 1. e5
2. Nc3 2. Nc6

That's two moves. The moves on the right are from black, and the left ones are from white.
Posted by Rm150300 3 years ago
Rm150300
No, but it is fun...
Don't worry, I was just busy when I accepted.
Posted by DakotaKrafick 3 years ago
DakotaKrafick
No need to take forever saying "I accept," rm...
Posted by DakotaKrafick 3 years ago
DakotaKrafick
The point is: at X=0, White has the advantage, even though if he plays poorly enough, he could lose the advantage at X=10 or whatever (X being the number of moves played so far).
Posted by DakotaKrafick 3 years ago
DakotaKrafick
"Meaning yes, white moves first, but that advantage could be lost by move 3. is it still inherent?"

Of course it's still an inherent advantage, even though White could theoretically be an idiot and make three terrible moves in the beginning thus letting Black gain the advantage.
Posted by ishallannoyyo 3 years ago
ishallannoyyo
because if so, this debate would be much harder for con
Posted by ishallannoyyo 3 years ago
ishallannoyyo
I'll accept, but by "inherent" advantage, how long is this advantage? Meaning yes, white moves first, but that advantage could be lost by move 3. is it still inherent?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Torvald 3 years ago
Torvald
DakotaKrafickRm150300Tied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
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Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: I see now what Dakota meant about disappointing prior attempts at this debate. It must be horrible to hold a superior position and be nagged by others who don't realize the uphill battle they're facing.
Vote Placed by GOP 3 years ago
GOP
DakotaKrafickRm150300Tied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeited, so the conduct point is awarded to Pro. Although Con said that black could alter what white's going to play in his first move, Pro had already said that white is the very first one that alters black to play something accordingly. Also, Pro used reliable sources, whereas Con just arrogantly said that his brain is his source.