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When I was young I remember that it was usual to move 2 pawns one space each on your first move, instead of one pawn two spaces. (ie b3 and g3 at the same time). I'm not sure if the 2 pawns had to be mirrored or not, but moving the knight's pawns was the most usual move of this type.

Was this ever legal? If not, would that be a major advantage to the player playing this way?

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4  
Sounds like a telephone-game distortion of the ability to move a pawn two spaces on its first move. –  ikegami Jul 2 at 18:20

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

This was never legal. Rule 1.1. of the FIDE rules clearly states that the moves have to alternate. This was probably more of a house rule. Of course you can advance a pawn two spaces on it's first move (Rule 3.7b).

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Fabian's answer makes it quite clear that this is not in the rules. For your followup, whether or not this is advantageous, the answer is the ever frustrating "it depends"

Most novice games are decided merely by who makes the biggest blunder first. In that regard this doesn't really do much. In fact, by exposing your line quicker, you might be doing yourself more harm than good.

Once you advance past the novice levels, then this is a huge advantage. White wins between 52% and 56% of the matches, where you would expect 50/50 otherwise. And that's just from being able to move first. Being able to interject a second move would push this even further. Even if black were able to counter with two opening moves of their own, clearly moving first is advantageous, so two first moves would be even more so, especially considering the opening moves for white are very often two pawns anyway.

One plausible way to look at this rule is that perhaps black can move two pawns to try to fight the advantage received from white moving first. But that is pure speculation. The real way to test this counteract this kind of advantage is to play a match and alternate between black and white, or have the losing player be white.

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There are various "handicaps" that can be used to enable a weaker player to "even up" against a stronger opponent, and balance the odds as to who can win.

Some handicaps could put the weaker player into a technically won position. e.g. if you remove black's 'f' pawn.

Put me as white against Magnus Carlsen, remove his 'f' pawn and let me start by making 2 moves, and see how long my advantage lasts. I'm a decent club player but it's highly unlikely that he won't still get the upper-hand sooner or later.

I have been known to use handicaps whilst playing against chess software (Fritz). This can make the game more interesting. Still extremely frustrating when the bot catches up on me.

So there you go.. it was probably used as a handicap. One day they may even have a chess tournament with handicaps. However for the purpose of the "laws" of chess, there are no handicaps and white starts with a single move.

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