Francois-Andre Danican Philidor


I was regarded as the best chess player at my age. A well-known chess opening and a checkmate method are both named after me. Well, it’s amazing, isn’t it?
I came from a huge well-known musical family. I was born to my father’s second wife, Elizabeth Le Roy, whom he wed in 1710 when she was 19 years old and he 72. When I was born, my father was quite old, he was 72 and he died 4 years later, leaving me fatherless.

I joined the royal choir of Louis XV at the age of six, and made my first attempt at the composition of a song at the age of 11. To listen to one of my musical compositions look below.

It was said that Louis XV wanted to listen to the choir almost every day, and us, the singers, while waiting for the king to arrive, played chess to relieve our boredom. This sparked my interest in chess.
From around 1740, I lived and worked in Paris as a performer, teacher and music copyist. I started playing chess regularly around 1740 at the chess Mecca of France. The best player in France at that time, Legall de Kermeur taught me. At first, he would give rook odds, a handicap which the stronger player starts without one of his rooks, but in only three years, I was his equal and then surpassed him.
I visited England in 1747 and decisively beat Stamma (one of the strongest player in England) in a match by scoring all draws as wins for Stamma. The same year, I played many games with another strong player, Sir Abraham Janssen, who was then the best player in England.
Both in England and France, I was largely recognized in each of my fields and got a lot of admirers, protectors and also friends.
It will be cheering to know that many people are skillful chess players, though in many instances, their brains work differently. Always remember that… the Pawns… they are the very life of this game.

An example of how I played is displayed below:

If you would like to read my famous book on chess in its English version you can do that here. philidor's book