Philidor Defense - chess strategy
Philidor Defense - chess strategy

Defending Philidor is a strategy that has become one of the most important achievements of François-André Danican Philidor, thanks to which he immortalized the memory of himself and his family name.

Although the outstanding Frenchman is primarily famous for his operatic activities and provocative musical comedies. However, he was very fond of chess and dedicated a lot of time to this game. He was of the opinion that it was not worth taking risks and recklessly attacking. His tactics were expectant, he gradually built his systematic offensive, leaving no chance for his opponents.

The essence of the strategy

The Philidor Defense is a stable chess opening with many possibilities for pawn moves. It is successfully used in response to 1.е4.

Philidor defense

Despite the fact that there are a lot of variations in the location of the figures, there are a number of important factors:

  • Opponent's king must be cut off at the edge of the board.
  • Your king must stand opposite the opponent's king, and only one square can separate them.
  • The Bishop protects him from the risk of a rear check.

When the Philidor's Defense is used, black chess acquires a fairly solid status. Although the position is a little cramped, so it is not easy for themcreate successful response moves. For this reason, such an opening is not very popular, but many world-famous grandmasters still use this tactic from time to time.

Checkmate Legal

Philidor's defense can fall into a "trap" if you apply the game strategy developed by Legal.

Legal de Kermur is an older contemporary and chess teacher of François Philidor. Having lost only once to his talented student, he held the position of the second most powerful player in Paris for the rest of his life.

traps in chess

The photo above shows an example of a possible arrangement of pieces for "Legal's mate".

Today there is also a modernized version of this strategy. The difference from Legal's version is that the updated one uses an extra pawn for White.

Saint-Brie vs. Legal: game recording

1 e4 e5
2 Nf3 d6
3 Bc4 Nc6
4 Nc3 Bg4
5 N:e5?! B:d1?? Great idea, but a terrible mistake. The favorably placed queen apparently completely fascinated Monsieur Saint-Brie. Now White's brilliant idea is realized on the board, while after 5. … N:e5 Black is left with an additional piece.
6 B:f7+ Ke7
7 Nd5x!

Saint Bris was so disappointed with his loss that he ran out of the room without even watching White's final devastating move.


Most often, White analyzes Philidor's strategy at the very end of the game, because in the course of the game he is busy solving other problems. Often, a rather weak-looking arrangement of black chess misleads the opponent, forcing him to relax and weakening his vigilance. White discovers that his position is losing when he can no longer get out of the trap.

philidor defense in chess

In chess, the use of this strategy carries some risks, but they are often justified, so many famous chess players take it into their arsenal.

The Philidor Defense in chess continues to be a fairly strong tactic even today, often used even by world-class grandmasters.

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