Sep 8, 2012
Nov 3, 2012
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 a 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. The same year, Philidor played many games with another strong player, Sir Abraham Janssen, who was then the best player in England, and with the exception of M. de Legalle, probably the best player Philidor ever encountered. He could win on an average one game in four off Philidor, at even terms; and Philidor himself declared that he could only give to Janssen the pawn for the move. In 1754, Philidor returned to France, after nine years of absence spent mostly in Holland and England. He was now a much stronger player, having successfully played with opponents of the calibre of Philip Stamma and Abraham Janssen, but, as G. Allen reports in The life of Philidor, it was not until his match with de Legal in 1755 that he can be considered the strongest player in the world.