Philidor!

Philidor!

chessfanforlife
chessfanforlife
Oct 11, 2008, 12:00 AM |
5 | Chess Players

            François-André Danican Philidor 1726 - 1785) was a French C\hess player and composer. He was regarded as the best single chess player of his age. Although the title of World Chess Champion was not yet in existence. Philidor's book Analyse du jeu des Échecs was considered a standard chess manual for at least a century. He is referred to here as André Danican Philidor, the name commonly used during his lifetime.

         

Philidor started playing regularly around 1740 at the chess Mecca of France, the Café de la Régence. It was also there that he famously played with friend from 'New England', Mr. Benjamin Franklin. The best player in France at the time, Legall de Kermeur, taught him. At first, Legall could give Philidor rook odds, a handicap in which the stronger player starts without one of his rooks, but in only three years, Philidor was his equal, and then surpassed him. Philidor visited England in 1747 and decisively beat the Syrian Phillip Stamma in a match +8 =1 -1, despite the fact Philidor let Stamma have white in every game, and scored all draws as wins for Stamma.[1]

Philidor astounded his peers by playing three blindfold chess games simultaneously in the chess club of St. James Street in London on 9 May 1783. Philidor let all three opponents play white, and gave up a pawn for the third player. Some affidavits were signed, because those persons who were involved doubted that future generations would believe that such a feat was possible. Now three simultaneous games would be fairly unremarkable among many chess masters (though three simultaneous blindfold games is another matter). Even when he was in his late years, when he was 67 years old (1793), he played two blindfold games simultaneously in London, and he won.

In 1749, Philidor published his famous book Analyse du jeu des Échecs. He printed a second edition in 1777, and a third edition in 1790. The book was such an advance in chess knowledge that by 1871, it had gone through about 70 editions, and had been translated into English, German and Italian. In it, Philidor analyzed nine different types of game openings. Most of the openings of Philidor are designed to strengthen and establish a strong defensive center using pawns. He is the first one to realize the new role of the pawn in the chess game; and his most famous advice was the saying "The pawns are the soul of chess". It was said that the reason why Philidor emphasized the pawns in the chess game was related to the political background during the eighteenth century of France, and that he regarded pawns as the "Third rank" on the chess board (citizens were regarded as the third rank of the society before the French Revolution started in 1789). He also included analysis of certain positions of rook and bishop versus rook, such analysis being still current theory even today!