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Chess for Beginners: Playing as White vs. Black – 21 Things to Consider

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

When two players compete in chess, one will play with white pieces while the other will play with black pieces. Usually, the player with white pieces will always have a slight advantage at the beginning of the match as they are allowed to initiate the first move. However, many players prefer to start with black pieces due to their playing style, strategic approach, or favored tactics. 

For beginner chess players, the color of their assigned pieces does not have as much of an influence compared to advanced and professional players. Beginner chess players are known to make frequent and unnecessary blunders when playing with black or white pieces, which immediately evens the playing field. 

If highly rated players are assigned white pieces, they will have an advantage during the game’s initial stages. Beginner chess players do not usually start the game with a pre-determined opening strategy, making most of their games evenly matched. 

While playing with black or white chess pieces will not usually decide the outcome of competitive matches, this article will detail things to consider. 

1. Playing with White Chess Pieces Is Advantageous

Studies performed over the last three centuries indicate that playing with white chess pieces is more advantageous than with black pieces. Before the game starts, black and white pieces are positioned in identical squares with the same value. However, if you are playing with white chess pieces, your chances, statistically speaking, of winning are about 55%.

2. Black Chess Pieces Favor Defensive Openings

The best strategies when playing with black pieces are usually defensive-orientated. By playing a closed game, setting traps, and counterattacking, your chances of defeating your opponent can increase. 

3. White Chess Pieces Benefit Attack-Minded Players

When playing with whites, using an attack-oriented strategy is often more effective. Because whites initiate the first move, players can use this advantage to get a head start in deploying their tactical pieces. 

4. Playing with Whites Speed Up Your Chances of Winning

Statistically speaking, playing with white pieces will increase the likelihood of conquering the black king before the match has reached the end game stage. While quick checkmates are rare, especially among experienced players, the chances of defeating your opponent in about 20 moves are significantly enhanced when playing with whites. 

5. For Beginners, Playing with Blacks Might Be Better

While it may seem counterintuitive, inexperienced players might have more opportunities to defeat their opponents when playing with blacks. While playing with white pieces should offer you an advantage, beginner players frequently utilize intense attacks on their opponent’s king without ensuring their defensive position. 

6. White Pieces Are More Vulnerable to Mistakes 

Playing with white pieces means you can make the first move while implementing various attacking strategies. However, since the whites are usually responsible for the game’s pace and positioning, a simple blunder can eventually lead to defeat. 

7. Players Assigned Whites Can Dictate Openings

You can undoubtedly dictate opening plays if you are assigned the white pieces. As you can move first, you will always have a single-move advantage over your opponent, meaning you can always utilize your chosen opening. In contrast, your opponent will be forced to respond appropriately. 

8. Whites Usually Win 55% of the Time

Chess experts agree that playing with white pieces is somewhat beneficial and advantageous. When you are assigned to play with whites, most instinctively assume they have the upper hand. The generalized assumption throughout the chess community is factually correct, with long-term studies of thousands of games indicating that the likelihood of victory is about 55%.

9. For Blacks, a Defensive Strategy Might Be the Most Optimal Approach

While it is accepted that playing with whites is inherently beneficial, deploying a defensive-orientated opening with blacks might be the most effective response. Creating a solid defensive structure during the opening exchanges allows the blacks to pounce on any errors, implement long-distance counterattacks, and prevent quick checkmates.

10. Black Pieces Can Be Leverage for Counterattacks

It is quite unlikely for black pieces to be used as attacking weapons during opening plays. However, various black pieces can be deployed during deadly counterattacking play by creating a secure defensive position and preventing the white pieces from gaining a significant advantage. 

For instance, instantly transferring a defensive-orientated bishop into an attacking weapon has proven effective. 

11. Black Chess Pieces Favor a Closed-Style Game 

When playing with blacks, an effective strategy usually involves closed games with incredibly secure pieces. Not allowing the white pieces to dictate opening plays by creating a closed game is enormously beneficial as white’s initial advantage decreases during the middle and end games. 

12. Whites Favor Offensive Gameplay

Usually, whites have been associated with attacking play. Successfully utilizing whites’ one-move advantage to gain a positional edge and dominate the board can be quite helpful in the game’s early stages. If executed well, this kind of strategy can set you up for a potential early victory.

13. Blacks Can Quickly Pounce on Whites’ Blunders

It is accepted that playing with the black chess pieces usually forces players into defensive positions to prevent early dominance. However, effectively positioning the black pieces during defense-based openings enables savvy players to utilize unseen, unpredictable, long-range, and deadly counterattacks. 

14. It Can Benefial to Get Used to Playing with Blacks

Despite the white pieces offering players a slight advantage, beginners should consistently alternate between both colors. Only playing with white pieces may initially offer more enjoyment, but it will hinder your long-term game and progress. 

In official games, you are forced to play with the pieces assigned to you, meaning you should be as comfortable playing with black as you are with white. 

15. Some Would Say That Whites Start with Half a Move’s Advantage

Many beginners incorrectly assume that whites offer players a single move’s advantage. While white pieces’ associated benefits are indisputable, chess games between advanced players demonstrate that, in reality, the advantage is mostly slightly more than half a move. 

16. Accepting a Draw Occurs More Often with Black Pieces

Being assigned the black pieces might be viewed as a disadvantageous position. While players with blacks also have a good chance of victory as the game progresses, they are somewhat more likely to accept draw offerings from their opponents. 

Obtaining a draw when playing with black pieces is often considered a small victory as, in theory, whites have the upper hand and are expected to win. 

17. Many Prefer Playing with Blacks

Despite the white pieces holding an intrinsic advantage over the black ones, many top players prefer to play with the latter. While the whites allow for offensive gameplay, the likelihood of blundering increases. 

Implementing a closed game and defensive strategy when playing with black pieces makes it incredibly difficult for whites to deploy intense attacking plays. As a result, It has resulted in players counterintuitively preferring the darker-colored pieces. 

18. You Need to Be Comfortable Playing with Both Colors

Most often, you’re randomly assigned the color you’ll be playing with before the game starts. Therefore, you cannot influence your given color, meaning you must be able to play, attack, and defend effectively against blacks and whites.

19. Playing With Black Forces You To Equalize The Game

Due to the known disadvantage of being assigned the black pieces, equalizing the game as quickly as possible is essential. Implementing a defensive approach during opening play is most effective since the game equals out during the middle and end game phases. 

20. Regularly Playing with Blacks Can Help You Improve Your Game

As a beginner, learning to play and win with blacks can enormously benefit your game as it forces you to approach matches differently. By practicing with blacks, you can better understand different tactics and positions that can be helpful to counteract whites’ first-move advantage. 

21. Whites Might Be More Vulnerable to Counterattacks

Most advanced players are often equally comfortable when playing with black or white pieces, meaning players assigned the black pieces can instantly pounce on any blunder made by white. Black pieces are less vulnerable to counterattacks as they are usually defensively placed.  

All in All

Statistically speaking, playing as white is considered more advantageous due to the first-move advantage. Generally, players assigned whites have a higher chance of winning, about 55%, as they get to set the pace of the game. 

With that in mind, playing with blacks allows players to adopt a more defensive approach and look for the moment to launch a counterattack. Players using blacks can turn the tables and outsmart their opponents by being patient and carefully maneuvering their pieces.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.