Philidor's Sonata

by Milica Knezevic on January 14, 2022

The Chess Game: NN - F.D. Philidor, 1790

  • This fascinating game recorder 28 moves and brought fourth a victory for the black side of the board.

  • If you decide to meticulously study this game, we are sure you will understand the exciting and impressive road chess has had.

  • Philidor will be studied by many in the future as he has been in the past, and for now let's together learn a bit more about him.

Who Was Francois-Andre Danican Philidor

  • Francois-Andre Philidor was a French chess player and author. He was arguably the first modern player with a real positional, not just tactical, sense. Best known for his focus on pawn play, he also has an opening, an ending position, and a checkmate pattern named after him.
  • Philidor was born in 1726 in Dreux, France, a town of about 5,000.
  • The French chess scene in the time of Philidor was concentrated in one place: le Cafe de la Regence—the Regency Coffeehouse in Paris. It was there where he gained his reputation as the best chess player in the country.
  • He also spent nearly a decade abroad in Holland and England, growing his reputation across the continent.
Francois-Andre Danican Philidor
  • Most games were casual and none were recorded, especially in the 1740s. In fact, the only record we have of Philidor’s games before 1780 is from his book, and he did not identify who played the games found in it. Several were likely compositions, and Philidor often included variations of how a game may have diverged at certain points.

Philidor's Book

  1. Within just about a decade of learning chess and already dominant on the scene, Philidor wrote one of the game’s first great strategical tracts: L’Analyse du jeu des Echecs—Chess Analysis. (Its first edition title—L'Analyse des Echecs: Contenant Une Nouvelle Methode Pour apprendre en peu de Tems a fe Percetioner dans ce Noble Jeu—rolls off a native French speaker’s tongue!) First published in 1749, it was reprinted in 1777 and 1790.

The Philidor Defence

  • The Philidor Defence (or Philidor's Defence) is a chess opening characterised by the moves:

1. e4 e5

2. Nf3 d6

  • Philidor advocated it as an alternative to the common 2...Nc6. His original idea was to challenge White's centre by the pawn thrust ...f7–f5.
  • Today, the Philidor is known as a solid but passive choice for Black, and is seldom seen in top-level play except as an alternative to the heavily analysed openings that can ensue after the normal 2...Nc6.
  • It is considered a good opening for amateur players who seek a defensive strategy that is simpler and easier to understand than the complex positions that result from an opening such as the French Defence.

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