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

Steven J. Brams, Mehmet S. Ismail

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    U nlike 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 (underscored), 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.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publication2021 IEEE Conference on Games, CoG 2021
    PublisherIEEE Computer Society
    ISBN (Electronic)9781665438865
    StatePublished - 2021
    Event2021 IEEE Conference on Games, CoG 2021 - Copenhagen, Denmark
    Duration: Aug 17 2021Aug 20 2021

    Publication series

    NameIEEE Conference on Computatonal Intelligence and Games, CIG
    ISSN (Print)2325-4270
    ISSN (Electronic)2325-4289


    Conference2021 IEEE Conference on Games, CoG 2021


    • chess
    • combinatorial games
    • fairness
    • sequencing

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
    • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
    • Human-Computer Interaction
    • Software

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