Here's a quick one. The final answer is a 6-letter word.

First player advantage? I don't believe in anything like that. It's just an excuse people use to explain away why they lost. Instead, victory solely depends on which side gets the next move.

Text version is below: the first grid is the letters of the board, and the second is the shading. # is the darkest, followed by X, and then . is the lightest.

BASTILLE XXXXXXX#
ECHIDNAS XXXXXXXX
POTBOUND XXXXXXXX
KEPHALIC XX..XX..
TELETYPE XX..XX..
NEWSWEEK ........
CABOMBAS ........
ALTRUISM #.......


Hint 1:

At least 32 letters in the grid are just disguising the true information.

• The text version doesn't capture the shading of the squares. Is it worth adding to the question a description of how the board is shaded, for the benefit of anyone who for whatever reason can't view images? Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 17:49
• @GarethMcCaughan, very much so, yes. Not every computer can pull images from imgur. Better yet, stick that in the image description where it goes. Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 19:15
• My question was addressed more to the OP -- it may turn out that the shading is purely decorative. But I'll add some explanation to the question. Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 19:50
• I can try putting the grid in markdown if that would help. Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 20:35
• Maybe provide a hunt now?
– Sid
Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 8:18

Beings

Solution:

This is a chessboard. Pieces are denoted by their usual letters from algebraic notation - King, kNight, Bishop, Rook - plus P for pawn; ignore other letters for now. Pieces on darker/lighter squares are black/white. Just as we're told, "victory solely depends on which side gets the next move": white/black can checkmate with Be1/Ng5. Treating the 1 and 5 in Be1Ng5 as the similar-looking letters I and S, we have the 6-letter answer "Beings" (thanks ffao for pointing this out!). However if this is the entire solution, then the two extra-dark squares are red herrings??

• "beings"? that is a six-letter word.
– ffao
Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 8:01
• Oh wow, that was staring me in the face! Thanks, I've updated the answer. Though I'm a little concerned there's one part of the puzzle we never used... Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 15:28
• Board with appropriate pieces on lichess here in case you want to put that, or an image derived from it, into your answer. Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 16:28
• Perhaps the extra-dark squares are meant to hint at the board being a chessboard (with dark squares in those corners and light squares in the other two corners)? Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 16:29
• (The first version of the puzzle had extra-light squares in the other two corners.) Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 16:29