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14- Black may play first

In the modern version of chess, the white pieces always occupy the first two ranks of the board and the white player always makes the first move. These particular practices did not however become standard until the end of the 19th century. In earlier days, either white or black could start the game although it had already been the convention for some time to have white make the first move in published analysis.


As per the current convention, it has been assumed all along that white occupied the first two ranks and played first. But it need not be that way. Because of the setup symmetry of Chess 99, it really makes no difference to the game which color plays first. Players may then elect to abide by the following rules:


  • The player to make the first move will be chosen by lot.

  • The opponent will then choose the color they wish to control. (Should the opponent pick white, then black will make the first move.)

  • The player to make the first move will set their pieces in the first two ranks (regardless of the color) and the opponent will set their pieces in the last two ranks.

  • If more than one game is played, players will take turn playing first and choosing the color they control.

Do note that if more than one game is played, the colors need not alternate. Unless both players wish to control the same color, all games could be played with one player controlling white and the other controlling black. Published analysis should always show white playing at the bottom of the board and playing first to prevent ambiguities. No adjustment of the moves is required.

Whenever black played first, a mirror image of the actual game was presented with white playing first. One notable example would be the well-known “Immortal Game” between A. Anderssen and L. Kieseritzky played in 1851.  Anderssen, who made the first move, did play black but is always shown as playing white.

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