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Chess is a game where two armies battle it out on a black and white chessboard. One player controls the moves of the white army and the other controls the black soldiers. Each army consists of 16 pieces, all with their importance, strength, and movement. To win the game, one must trap the king piece of the opponent and achieve checkmate. 

However, you may be wondering who goes first in chess. And if you have the answer to that question, you may want to know the ‘why’ of it! One of the most important rules of chess is that the white army moves first. The second move is that of the black army. Thus, the game of chess begins. You cannot skip a turn, even if it works against your favor. 

Here’s taking a deeper look at one of the most widely-followed chess rules – the first move! 

History of the ‘White Moves First’ Rule 

Until 1880, there was no fixed rule of who goes first in chess. Any player, either with a black army or white, could go first. In fact, several players had favourite colours with which they played. In case players couldn’t reach a consensus on the colors, the color was decided by drawing lots. Players would draw lots again to determine who would go first. 

Later, during the 5th American Chess Congress, an office rule was added to the Code of Chess Laws. In the Rules of Play, Article 1.2 states that a player with the light (white) pieces will make the first move in chess. The second move will be made by the player with the dark-colored (black) pieces. After this, the players will move alternatively. 

Decoding the First-Move Advantage

When learning to play chess, you may want to know the advantages and disadvantages of going first. According to theorists and chess players around the world, the first-move advantage exists. They believe that if the game is played perfectly by both sides, then the result of the game would either be a win for White or a draw. 

Compiled statistics starting from the year 1851 show that White tends to win a bit more often than Black. In fact, the winning percentage of White is the same for games played between humans, as well as computers. Therefore, it can be concluded that White does have a first-move advantage. 

When you choose a white army, you will automatically get the first-move advantage. This means that you will always be a step ahead of your opponent. However, players who are just learning pawn moves in chess should know that the advantage is quite small, and turning it into an absolute victory won’t be easy. Remember, the play needs to be perfect from both sides for a draw or clean win. 

Who Goes First in Chess?

Now that you’re aware of the first-move advantage, you would naturally want to go first. While the rules of chess don’t have a way of deciding which player goes first in chess, players are often selected by chance. Oftentimes players hold a black pawn in one hand and a white pawn in another. The second player chooses a hand and plays with the corresponding color. 

The Role of Psychology in the First-Move

It is at the beginning phase of each game that the psychology of players is most influenced. When you open first, you have several choices. Your opponent is the one who must change their game as per your moves. However, once you begin, you have to look for the perfect moves to force a win. 

Once you get to the middle or the end, players tend to focus more on a good move than the advantage they had early on in the game. Openings are difficult because they are dictated by the player’s preference and mood. The more complex the game begins, the more difficult it is for the player with the White pawns to keep the first-move advantage intact. 
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