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:

[pgn height=500 initialHalfmove=16 autoplayMode=none]

[Event “Blindfold simul”]
[Site “London, England”]
[Date “1783.05.26”]
[White “John M Bruehl”]
[Black “François André Philidor”]
[Result “0-1”]

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 c6 3.Qe2 d6 4.c3 f5 5.d3 Nf6 6.exf5 Bxf5 7.d4 e4 8.Bg5 d5 9.
Bb3 Bd6 10.Nd2 Nbd7 11.h3 h6 12.Be3 Qe7 13.f4 h5 14.c4 a6 15.cxd5 cxd5 16.
Qf2 O-O 17.Ne2 b5 18.O-O Nb6 19.Ng3 g6 20.Rac1 Nc4 21.Nxf5 gxf5 22.Qg3+
Qg7 23.Qxg7+ Kxg7 24.Bxc4 bxc4 25.g3 Rab8 26.b3 Ba3 27.Rc2 cxb3 28.axb3
Rfc8 29.Rxc8 Rxc8 30.Ra1 Bb4 31.Rxa6 Rc3 32.Kf2 Rd3 33.Ra2 Bxd2 34.Rxd2
Rxb3 35.Rc2 h4 36.Rc7+ Kg6 37.gxh4 Nh5 38.Rd7 Nxf4 39.Bxf4 Rf3+ 40.Kg2
Rxf4 41.Rxd5 Rf3 42.Rd8 Rd3 43.d5 f4 44.d6 Rd2+ 45.Kf1 Kf7 46.h5 e3 47.h6
f3 0-1


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