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Philidor Defense (C41)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 d6

Number of games in database: 4572
Years covered: 1575 to 2014
Overall record:
   White wins 45.0%
   Black wins 27.0%
   Draws 28.0%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
PRACTITIONERS
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Bonnerjee Mohishunder  23 games
John Cochrane  22 games
Dusko Pavasovic  19 games
Tamaz Gelashvili  55 games
Vladimir Antoshin  42 games
Georg Marco  28 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Morphy vs Duke Karl / Count Isouard, 1858
E Z Adams vs Carlos Torre, 1920
De Legal vs Saint Brie, 1750
Bird vs Morphy, 1858
R Schulder vs S Boden, 1853
Rodzynski vs Alekhine, 1913
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 page 1 of 183; games 1-25 of 4,572  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. G da Cutri vs Ruy Lopez 1-010 1575 Leonardo vs. Ruy LopezC41 Philidor Defense
2. Greco vs NN 1-021 1620 Miscellaneous GameC41 Philidor Defense
3. Greco vs NN 1-011 1620 Miscellaneous GameC41 Philidor Defense
4. Greco vs NN 1-014 1620 Miscellaneous GameC41 Philidor Defense
5. Greco vs NN 1-06 1620 Miscellaneous GameC41 Philidor Defense
6. NN vs Philidor 0-132 1749 Analyse du jeu des ÉchecsC41 Philidor Defense
7. De Legal vs Saint Brie 1-07 1750 ParisC41 Philidor Defense
8. Philidor vs NN 1-011 1790 UnknownC41 Philidor Defense
9. NN vs Philidor 0-128 1790 UnknownC41 Philidor Defense
10. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-022 1798 CasualC41 Philidor Defense
11. G Atwood vs Campbell 1-024 1801 CasualC41 Philidor Defense
12. G Atwood vs J Bruehl 0-129 1801 CasualC41 Philidor Defense
13. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-019 1801 CasualC41 Philidor Defense
14. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-020 1801 CasualC41 Philidor Defense
15. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-021 1801 CasualC41 Philidor Defense
16. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-022 1801 CasualC41 Philidor Defense
17. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-023 1801 CasualC41 Philidor Defense
18. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-025 1801 CasualC41 Philidor Defense
19. J Bruehl vs Cotter ½-½51 1801 CasualC41 Philidor Defense
20. Cochrane vs NN 1-030 1820 CasualC41 Philidor Defense
21. Rotterdam vs Amsterdam 0-134 1824 City MatchC41 Philidor Defense
22. Manchester vs Liverpool 1-042 1825 corrC41 Philidor Defense
23. City of Berlin / Julius Mendheim vs Magdeburg 1-029 1833 CorrespondenceC41 Philidor Defense
24. Wroclaw vs City of Berlin / Julius Mendheim 0-144 1833 CorrespondenceC41 Philidor Defense
25. Amsterdam vs The Hague 1-021 1834 UnknownC41 Philidor Defense
 page 1 of 183; games 1-25 of 4,572  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  
 

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 16 OF 16 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-01-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eric Schiller: <rapid> are you referring to the book in Dutch? Quite a good piece of work but I don't think any GMs were involved.
Sep-01-10  rapidcitychess: I don't have the book.
The person I played did, he said it was a New In Chess book. I still cannot remember the names of the authors.
Apr-21-11  chesswonder: Hi everyone! Please anlyze this variation!!
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 Nf6
4. Nc3 Nbd7
5. Bc4 Be7
6. dxe5 dxe5
White now sacrifice a piece
7. Bxf7 Kxf7
8. Ng5+ Kg8
9. Ne6 Qe8
10. Nxc7 Qg6
11. Nxa8 Qxg2
12. Rf1 Nc5 with equality..
I play with black here but i dont know how to gain the lost pawn.
Apr-23-11  chesswonder: Is there any refutation for this variation?.
May-22-11  Catfriend: "We always return to our first love. But each time, with a different goal" J.J. Lec

I always return to the Larsen variation of the Philidor defence. It has its disadvantages, but one thing to be said for it is that it's very efficient at punishing White for opening mistakes. An example of a blitz game not exactly in this variation (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7) but close in spirit to many of the positions arising from it:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bc4 Nc6 4. O-O g6 <My bias is showing itself. I guess 4..be7 is objectively cleaner.> 5. d3 Na5 <A typical resource for Black. This bishop is dangerous and so must die!> 6. Bb3 <Another, sharper way is 6.Bd5 c6 7. Bxf7+ Kxf7 8. b4> Nxb3 7. axb3 Bg7 8. Be3 <In spirit, a healthy idea. However, given Black's King-side-headed intentions and the fact the long diagonal is closed, perhaps h3 would be better.> Nf6 <Fine, I guess... Rybka suggests the aggressive f5!> 9. Nbd2 <Once again, White discards h3. Instead, he wants to construct something like Maroczy Bind.> Qe7 <Once again, Rybka corrects me suggesting immediate 0-0. I felt a bit behind in development.> 10. c4 O-O 11. Qc2 Nh5 <Both sides act according to the plans they're comitted to. Black spent some effort preparing a king-side attack and exchanging the white-squared bishop, to play f5. White didn't play the preventive h3, he prepares to apply Q-side pressure.> 12. c5 Nf4 13. cxd6 cxd6 <Black's quite ready to give a7 away for the initiative, but White refuses to take. It seems to me to be a mistake, given that the c-file won't be White's anyway.> 14. Nc4? <Too slow!> Bg4! <Black is already better. Rybka's line is indicative: 15. Qd1 b5 16. Ncd2 Nxd3> 15. Nfd2 Rfc8 <Black had a range of pleasant possibilities, and went for a direct threat. Probably, 15..b5! 16. Na3 Rac8 17. Qb1 a6\Be2 would be stronger> 16. f3 Bd7?! <An imprecision, but the advantage isn't lost. Be6 would keep the pressure, target d5 and keep the 7-th file clean.> 17. Nb1 <Other alternatives weren't clearly better> b5 18. g3 Nh3+ 19. Kh1 bxc4 20. bxc4 f5 <Charge! I felt the time is ripe, the careful silicon beast shows 20..a5 protecting the pawn and taking space.> 21. Nc3 Be6 <The correction of the mis-step before.> 22. b4 f4 23. gxf4 exf4 24. Bc1 Qh4!? <Two powerful moves would be 24..Rcb8 or 24..Qb7 destroying the Q-side. I was playing in the aggressive spirit of Larsen's variation!> 25. Bb2 Bd4? <The game being blitz shows, after all. I was sure it was won already. Also, White was low on time so I played quickly. 24..a6! would keep the pressure, without allowing White to get some breath.> 26. Nb5 Bxb2 27. Qxb2 Qe7 <Admitting the oversight. Yet, even now, Black's winning. A piece is a piece!> 28. Ra6 Rd8 29. Rfa1 Rd7 0-1 Here my opponent lost on time.

What the game shows is that even with non-optimal play, at times, without any clear tactical mistakes by White, Black could use a few standard maneuvers to obtain advantage without much thought or brilliant concepts. Almost every good move by Black was one of the most natural in the position, and White's sins weren't great.

Jun-02-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: An interesting piece from the "Queenslander" newspaper, dated 14 October 1893:

"RJ Barnes of Wellington, NZ draws attention to a novelty arising from a variation in the Philidor Defence: The variation runs thus:

1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 d6 3. d4 f5 4. fxe5 fxe4. The books now advise 5. ♘g5. The new move suggested is 5. ♗c4, then if 5...exf3 6. ♕xf3 with two pieces in the field, a good, free position, and threatening mate on the move. Black may play 6...♕e7 or 6...♕d7, if the latter, White can retort with 7. ♗g5, and White's two rooks must come quickly into action. He leaves further analysis to others, and concludes by saying that although the sacrifice of the piece may be unsound, yet it will be found to yield a dashing attack, perhaps as good in its way as the celebrated 'Muzio'".

Jun-05-11  Helloween: White - Helloween

Black - Guest

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Bg5 Be7 9.O-O-O O-O 10.Rhe1 h6 11.Bh4 Re8 12.Qc4 Bd7?(12...Nd7 Jansa vs J Lechtynsky, 1982)13.e5 1-0

Aug-19-11  jussu: I myself keep playing 4. Qxd4 and I always wonder when will someone try 4... Bd7 and only then Nc6. Should be playable, IMO, while 4... Nc6 5. Bb5 is so horrible for black that it is probably just lost already.
Aug-19-11  Catfriend: <jussu> 4..Bd7 is certainly playable, although Black loses his main compensation in the Qxd4 variation - the bishop pair.

So it's all about evaluating how bad and <just lost already> is 4..Nxc6 5. Bb5.

There's also 4..Nf6 but as it frequently leads to transpositions, let's put it aside for now.

So - following the plausible line <Helloween> gives, 4..Nxc6 5. Bb5 Bd7 6. Bxc6 Bxc6 7. Nc6 Nf6 8. Bg5 Be7 9. 0-0-0 0-0 10. Rhe1 h6 11. Bh4 Re8 12. Qc4. Now even Bd7? 13. e5 doesn't outright win: 13.. Be6 14. Qb4 dxe5 15. Qxb7 Nd7 16. Bxe7 Qxe7 17. Qxc7 f6 18. Nh4 Rab8.

But Black has (again, as <Helloween> mentions) 12..Nd7 after which I'd say it's equal. 13. Bxe7 Qxe7 14. Nd5 Qd8 and there's a nice line - 15. Nb4 Nb6 16. Nxc6 Nxc4 17. Nxd8 Raxd8. It seems quite safe...

So, where can White improve on this whole sequence? Suppose he castles short: 9. 0-0 0-0 10. Rfe1 h6 11. Bh4 a6 and how does White proceed? 12. Rad1 Re8 and the e5 push gives Black a small advantage: 13. e5?! Bxf3 14. gxf3 dxe5 15. Qxe5 Qc8

A "principal" position arises after 9. 0-0-0 0-0 10. e5 dxe5 11. Qxe5 Bd6 12. Qd4 Re8 13. Bxf6 Qxf6 14. Qxf6 gxf6 and Black has two cool bishops to compensate for the pawn structure. Had to defend this endgame a few times, won some of them. The open g-line actually helps sometimes! And of course, open games with action on both wings just increase the power of bishops and their coordination with rooks...

And keep in mind 5..Bd7 is only one response. There's 5..Nge7 6. 0-0 a6 7. Bxc6 Nxc6 8. Qd3 Be7, 6. Qd3 a6 6. Ba4 Ng6 and Be7.

So, <jussu>, why is black <just lost already> after 4..Nc5 5. Bb5 ?

Aug-21-11  jussu: <Catfriend>, I haven't done any analytical work on this line (thanks a lot for yours); my opinion is based on personal statistics. I remember I lost one game where I hung my queen, otherwise I think I am 100% in this line, so I'd say it is practically lost at patzer level for Black. Maybe a master can hold it against another master.
Feb-15-12  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

Philidor Defense
1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 d6


click for larger view

Feb-20-12  The Finisher: I'm looking for recent games in the old Philidor, but I keep running into this Black Lion nonsense... as far as I know, the Philidor proper is sound, but you must be careful as Black.

That said, it seems like a simple opening that I can bank on, as long as I book up well. Anywhere I can find something useful on the real Philidor?

I don't just want 3.d4, I also want 3.Bc4 and 3.Nc3 (those last two can often be moves 3 and 4).

Feb-20-12  Nemesistic: I haven't seen the Phillidor played at a decent level in tournament play for a long time, or noticed any recent games in the DB here..
Feb-20-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  pawn to QB4: D Jakovenko vs Jobava, 2011 ? but generally speaking you're right.
Mar-22-12  The Finisher: Actually, I went and analysed this opening a bit and it is very suspect. The normal Philidor I mean, not the new one. Even when you survive the opening itself, there is compromise for no gain.
Mar-22-12  SimonWebbsTiger: @<theFinisher>

do you know Christian Bauer wrote a recent book called "the Philidor Files"?

Jun-02-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  refutor: any thoughts on the gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.c3 i imagine it's a good danish after 4. ...dxc3 5.Bc4 etc as the main "refutations" of the danish involve a quick ...d5. but does 4. ..Nf6 just take the steam out and make it a "normal" philidor with 5.Qxd4 etc.
Oct-03-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  waustad: Of the 64 games here where the Philidor was played in the recent Olympiad, all but 10 were played by women. I've seen the Philidor often in women's events of late and in some Austrian tournaments that are not represented here, but it is rare in high level RRs.
Jul-11-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  waustad: One person who plays 1.) e4 d6 and transposes to what the folks at chess365 call the Improved Hanham Defense is Eva Moser, who usually goes her own way with openings. It is sometimes difficult to search for a particular opening with a player who transposes so much. Similarly her Dutch Defense games start with 1.) d4 e3, as if to say, "Want to try a French?"
Sep-03-13  Penguincw: Opening of the Day
Philidor Defense
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6

Probably the most famous game under this opening is Morphy vs Duke Karl / Count Isouard, 1858.

Sep-03-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <SimonWebbsTiger: @<theFinisher> do you know Christian Bauer wrote a recent book called "the Philidor Files"?>

There is also 'Modern Philidor Defence' by Barsky, Winning with the Philidor by Kosten, the Black Lion books and several pamphlets on the Philidor from the 1970s when it had a brief resurgence. It naturally ties in also with the multiple 1. ...d6 repertoire tomes.

Sep-03-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  waustad: An example of the Philidor Improved Hanham reversed can be found here: http://chess-results.com/partieSuch... in the game Moser vs Pavlov. Pavlov tried to play a Petroff and found himself in somebody else's comfort zone.
Sep-04-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: Here is a list of 1. ...d6 repertoire books. If you can add to it, please do:

1. ... d6 REPERTOIRE BOOKS

This and 1. ...Nc6 are two of the most interesting first-move repertoires for black. These are repertoires where the basic structure of the game remains the same for black, irrespective of 1. e4 or 1. d4.

The basic openings here are the Philidor, Old Indian, Lion and Prybil. I do not include the Pirc where black fianchettos the KB.

Phildor
Bauer - The Philidor Files
Harding - Philidor Defense: A Reappraisal
Heiling - The Philidor Defense: Larsen Variation
Kosten - Trends in the Philidor
Kosten - Winning with the Philidor
Larsen - Why Not Philidor's Defense?
Pickett / Swift - Philidor's Defence
West - The Dynamic Philidor Countergambit

Old Indian
Cherniaev / Prokuroniv - The New Old Indian
Pickett - The Old Indian Renewed
Schiller - Janowski Indian Defense
Soltis - The Not So Old Indian

Lion
Rekom / Janssen - The Black Lion (2009)
Rekom / Janssen - The Black Lion (2001)

Prybil / Czech
Pieri - Pirc Defence: Czech Variation

1. ...d6 Repertoire
Lakdawala - 1. ...d6 Move by Move
Soltis - A Black Defensive System with 1. ...d6
Tella, Et Al - An Explosive Black Repertoire

Sep-04-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: 1. ...d6 Repertoire - There is also Barsky's 'Universal Weapon 1....d6' book.
Oct-05-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <waustad: One person who plays 1.) e4 d6 and transposes to what the folks at chess365 call the Improved Hanham Defense is Eva Moser, who usually goes her own way with openings. It is sometimes difficult to search for a particular opening with a player who transposes so much. Similarly her Dutch Defense games start with 1.) d4 e3, as if to say, "Want to try a French?">

Indeed! As I mentioned somewhere else on CG.com, her use of transpositions is quite interesting, illuminating of the possibilities on the first four or five moves of the game.

I've been trying out both the Larsen and Antoshin variations of the Philidor as part of a larger exploration of 1. ...d6 - and actually having reasonable success. I found a book that goes fairly deeply in to the Antoshin and <Catfriend's> work on the Larsen is very instructive as well.

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