Philidor Defense, Silman's Mistake


I'm going through Silman's Complete Endgame Course.  My question is about the Philidor defense.  Silman says to prevent the king from reaching the 6th rank with your rook.  Once he pushes the pawn to the 6th, then you can check endless from behind and the king will have no where to hide thus securing the draw.  Silman offers this diagram on page 153:

Silman's says use the Philidor Defense and play Rook Rg6!  However whit has e6+ and can drive the king away from the pawn and win using the Lucena position at a minimum (the computer beats me even quicker than that when I play Rg6).  But if I force the computer to play Rg6, I can always beat it using the Lucena position.

So what is the full Philidor defense?  What are the exceptions?  For one, if your opponent can push the pawn forward with check, it doesn't work because you don't have time to get your rook behind his king and start your own checking frenzy.

For the recond, I'm not criticising Silman's book.  It's awesome, and I highly recommend it.  I think he's made a mistake though.


it is not called "Philidor's defense: That is an opening: e4 e5 d4 d6....


Part of the drawing position is that you keep your king directly in front of his pawn.


Silman published an errata sheet.  The white rook should be on h2.


Thanks Ghosts, that's helpful. 


As mentioned before that's called the philidor position, not philidor defense. And the key concept to draw is keeping your king in front of the enemy's pawn way (in your example e7 and e8).

Once the pawn advances to the 7th rank you drop your rook back to the first rank and proceed giving endless check. Having reached this situation The only way to escape perpetual check is giving away the pawn and then you get a draw.

Other considerations are:

1. If The attacking team offers a rook exchange before pushing the pawn to the 7th rank, it should be accepted, since you reach a drawn pawn+king vs king position (although you have to know how, If you don't then study oposition).

2.If the attacking team refuses to push the pawn, then reach a 50 move draw, but remember never to move your king away from the squares the pawn has to advance.

Hope this helps.


I like the header of this thread: "Philidor Defense, Silman's Mistake".


Also, Philodor did a number of endgame studies.  This isn't the only endgame with a "philidor position" but it is the best known.

smiley15 wrote:

Can't Black just take the pawn with 2...Rxe6.?

2... Rxe6 drops the black rook to 3. Ra7+


Philidor is a great name. 

Yes, but he will lose the rook in the process. Ra7+ and it's over.

If anyone is still wondering how to defend the position, you play Rg8 and then Re8 placing it behind the pawn when you get a chance.  If/when white chases your king from under the pawn, move the king to the short side.

It's good practice to put the position in Rybka and force a draw. Rybka will throw every possible variation at you before the 50 moves are up.

Silman covers this calling it "Philidor gone bad" later on in the book.  I didn't know how to defend until I got to the later sections.  This particular example is just more advanced. 

If you don't like endgames or don't understand them, I can't recommend Silman's book enough.  On the flip side, if you ever end up playing me, it's one book I really hope you haven't read.


 I have the newest version of the book and the rook is on h2. And its on page 153 as well.


Confusing endgame positions and openings, interesting.