It is known in standard chess that white has an advantage over black. This holds true for the variant chess960 (...sort of), where there pieces behind the pawns are shuffled subject to certain restrictions resulting in 960 possible starting positions.
For the 960 possible starting positions (SPs), I notice that in some cases you have to give up castling rights on 1 side in order to gain castling rights on the other side. There are 90 such SPs. Consider splitting the 960 SPs into 2 collections of 870 and 90. Call these collections, respectively, chess870 and chess90. I conjectured that chess90, on average, gives more of an 'advantage' to white as compared to chess870. Now, what is meant by advantage?
1 way that advantage is measured is the evaluation an engine gives of the starting position. The evaluation rules (of any position, not just the starting position) are: 0 is drawn, and positive/negative means, resp, white/black is favoured.
In chess960, one such set of evaluations is called the Sesse evaluations, the evaluations by an engine (I think some old version stockfish) of each chess960 position up to 'depth' of around 39. (More here.) For example, the standard SP (RNBQKBNR) is evaluated at 0.22.
I confirmed my conjecture in that the average Sesse eval for chess870 is 0.1790 while the average for chess90 is 0.1913. The percentage change from chess870 to chess90 is
$(0.1913-0.1790)/0.1790 = 0.06871508379 \approx 6.87 \%$, almost $7\%$
However, it's been pointed out to me that this is not necessarily 'significant' like say the percentage change from 0.01 to 0.03 is 200%, but this is hardly significant...in the sense that evaluations from 0.00 to 0.05 hardly show any advantage for white.
By Mobeus Zoom:
This percentage doesn't tell the whole picture or even close: there's a 200% difference between +0.01 and +0.03 but they're hardly distinguishable as chess engine evaluations. A better way would be to hypothesis test. (That said, it's an interesting question you ask and have started analysing.)
Question 1: While I kinda have a feeling the measure of 'significance' here is gonna depend largely on a qualitative thing like when we consider an evaluation to mean something advantageous for white...
Is there a way to test for (quantitative) statistical significance here, such as with hypothesis testing?
Note: I'm not (necessarily) asking what could be mathematical or statistical ways in general to measure significance. So I don't think this should be closed as off-topic necessarily. I'm asking (but not necessarily asking only) if there exists a way to use statistics here.
Question 2: About hypothesis testing, it's been like half a decade since I've done statistics, but how exactly is hypothesis testing relevant here?
Maybe $H_0: \mu_1 = \mu_2; H_1: \mu_1 < \mu_2$ or something, but from what I understand hypothesis testing is like we get sample means $\hat \mu_1$ and $\hat \mu_2$ and then we compare these sample means to make guesses about the true means $\mu_1 = E[X_1]$ and $\mu_2 = E[X_2]$, each of which come from underlying variables, resp, $X_1$ and $X_2$. But what exactly are the $X_1$ and $X_2$ ? I don't see any randomness here unless we do like...
$X_1$ is pick with uniform distribution a random evaluation from chess870 and $X_2$ is for chess90. Then the sample means are from picking some appropriate sample sizes from each of the populations chess870 and chess90.
A. I recall in hypothesis testing or well statistics in general we don't usually know the true means, yet we have them right here as $\mu_1=0.1790$ and $\mu_2=0.1913$. What I understand of hypothesis testing is we don't know the true means and so we're making due with some limited data. Sure we can get some random sample of say 5% points each (4.5 round to 5 points for chess90 and 43.5 round to 44 points for chess870) and then do hypothesis testing for those points, but then why don't we just increase this to 100% points each? And so if we get a random sample of 5% points each then, what, we test for significance for, say, 10 random samples and see how many times we get a significant p-value?
B. I don't see how exactly any of the aforementioned is testing the significance of the 6.87%. Or is the point to not test the percentage change of the true means but really to test for significance between whatever the sample means turn out to be?