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Who goes first in chess?

In chess, the player with the light pieces (white) always moves first. The color of your pieces is usually determined randomly before the game, often by flipping a coin or drawing a piece from a bag. The player who plays white makes the first move, and then players alternate taking turns until the game ends.

This tradition of white going first was not always the case. In earlier variations of chess, players sometimes alternated who played first, or even chose the color they wanted and then decided who started based on that choice. However, by the late 19th century, the rule of white always moving first had become widely accepted and remains the standard in modern chess.

There are several possible reasons why white may have come to go first, including:

  • Symmetry: It can be seen as more symmetrical for both players to have an equal number of moves, considering white starts with a slight advantage of moving first.
  • Practicality: In tournaments where players alternate colors, this rule avoids the need to constantly decide who goes first.
  • Historical precedent: As chess evolved, the practice of white moving first may have simply become established and accepted over time.

Regardless of the reason, the rule of white going first is a fundamental aspect of chess, and it plays a small but important role in the strategic considerations of the game.

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