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Philidor Defense (C41)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 d6

Number of games in database: 8754
Years covered: 1575 to 2023
Overall record:
   White wins 45.0%
   Black wins 26.9%
   Draws 28.0%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Bonnerjee Mohishunder  23 games
John Cochrane  22 games
Michele Godena  21 games
Tamaz Gelashvili  56 games
Zeinab Mamedjarova  54 games
Vladimir Antoshin  49 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Morphy vs Duke Karl / Count Isouard, 1858
E Z Adams vs Torre, 1920
De Legal vs Saint Brie, 1750
Bird vs Morphy, 1858
Rodzynski vs Alekhine, 1913
T Barnes vs Morphy, 1858
<< previous chapter next chapter >>

 page 1 of 351; games 1-25 of 8,754 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. G da Cutri vs Ruy Lopez 1-0101575Leonardo vs. Ruy LopezC41 Philidor Defense
2. Greco vs NN 1-0211620Miscellaneous gameC41 Philidor Defense
3. Greco vs NN 1-0111620Miscellaneous gameC41 Philidor Defense
4. Greco vs NN 1-0141620Miscellaneous gameC41 Philidor Defense
5. Greco vs NN 1-061620Miscellaneous gameC41 Philidor Defense
6. NN vs Philidor 0-1321749Analyse du jeu des ÉchecsC41 Philidor Defense
7. NN vs Philidor 0-1281749Analyse du jeu des ÉchecsC41 Philidor Defense
8. De Legal vs Saint Brie 1-071750ParisC41 Philidor Defense
9. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-0221795CasualC41 Philidor Defense
10. G Atwood vs J Bruehl 0-1291796CasualC41 Philidor Defense
11. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-0221798CasualC41 Philidor Defense
12. G Atwood vs Campbell 1-0241798CasualC41 Philidor Defense
13. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-0191801CasualC41 Philidor Defense
14. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-0201801CasualC41 Philidor Defense
15. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-0211801CasualC41 Philidor Defense
16. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-0231801CasualC41 Philidor Defense
17. G Atwood vs J Wilson 1-0251801CasualC41 Philidor Defense
18. J Bruehl vs Cotter ½-½511801CasualC41 Philidor Defense
19. Napoleon Bonaparte vs Madame De Remusat 1-0141804Chateau de MalmaisonC41 Philidor Defense
20. Cochrane vs NN 1-0301820CasualC41 Philidor Defense
21. Rotterdam vs Amsterdam 0-1341824City MatchC41 Philidor Defense
22. Manchester vs Liverpool CC 1-0421825corrC41 Philidor Defense
23. City of Berlin / Julius Mendheim vs Magdeburg 1-0291833CorrespondenceC41 Philidor Defense
24. Wroclaw vs City of Berlin / Julius Mendheim 0-1441833CorrespondenceC41 Philidor Defense
25. Amsterdam vs The Hague 1-0211834UnknownC41 Philidor Defense
 page 1 of 351; games 1-25 of 8,754 
  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>
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.

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


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.

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

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  parisattack: 1. ...d6 Repertoire - There is also Barsky's 'Universal Weapon 1....d6' book.
Oct-05-13  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, 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.

Feb-12-21  Poisonpawns: A Compilation of GM`s playing against philidor defense
Apr-16-21  Damonkeyboy: <chesswonder> First off, you're actually better in that variation because you have all the development, and you've broken through on the kingside.

Second, if ypu don't like that variation, play 5. ...h6

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