Fairer Chess: A Reversal of Two Opening Moves in Chess Creates Balance Between White and Black

2021 IEEE Conference in Games (CoG)

4 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2022

See all articles by Steven J. Brams

Steven J. Brams

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Mehmet Ismail

King's College London, Department of Political Economy

Date Written: August 1, 2021

Abstract

Unlike tic-tac-toe or checkers, in which optimal play leads to a draw, it is not known whether optimal play in chess ends in a win for White, a win for Black, or a draw. But after White moves first in chess, if Black has a double move followed by a double move of White and then alternating play, play is more balanced because White does not always tie or lead in moves. Symbolically, Balanced Alternation gives the following move sequence: After White’s (W) initial move, first Black (B) and then White each have two moves in a row (BBWW), followed by the alternating sequence, beginning with W, which altogether can be written as WB/BW/WB/WB/WB… (the slashes separate alternating pairs of moves). Except for reversal of the 3rd and 4th moves from WB to BW, this is the standard chess sequence. Because Balanced Alternation lies between the standard sequence, which favors White, and a comparable sequence that favors Black, it is highly likely to produce a draw with optimal play, rendering chess fairer. This conclusion is supported by a computer analysis of chess openings and how they would play out under Balanced Alternation.

Keywords: combinatorial games, chess, fairness, sequencing

JEL Classification: C70

Suggested Citation

Brams, Steven and Ismail, Mehmet, Fairer Chess: A Reversal of Two Opening Moves in Chess Creates Balance Between White and Black (August 1, 2021). 2021 IEEE Conference in Games (CoG), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3985639

Steven Brams

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

Dept. of Politics
19 West 4th St., 2nd Fl.
New York, NY 10012
United States
212-998-8510 (Phone)
212-995-4184 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://politics.as.nyu.edu/object/stevenbrams.html

Mehmet Ismail (Contact Author)

King's College London, Department of Political Economy ( email )

Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/mehmetsismail/

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