Lessons in Philidor's Defence - live action version

This page is a play-through version of
http://exeterchessclub.org.uk/content/lessons-philidors-defence

[Event "Lessons in Philidor's Defence"]
[Site "Exeter"]
[Date "2014.06.07"]
[Round "1"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Philidor"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C41"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 { What is Black's best reply? Let's have a look at the move} 2... d6 { What do you think of this? Looks rubbish? Looks OK? Your favourite? Never thought about it? You should always think about alternatives to 'obvious' moves. Even if you play the move you first thought if, thinking helps you understand the position, and there is often a lot going on. Also, you sometimes come up with a nice surprise. What do you think of 2...d6? What's the point? 2...d6 is called Philidor's Defence. Philidor was the strongest player of his day, so it's probably not a pointless move. But since Philidor, it has not been played much, so it might not be the best move ( one or two Grandmasters today still play it at least occasionally ) . What are the good points and bad points about the move? How should White reply?} ( 2... Nc6 { is undoubtedly the best reply, but sometimes you see others.} ) 3. d4 { This is a good move - White prepares to develop the Queen's Bishop, takes another square in the centre, and puts Black's claim to the centre under pressure. How should Black meet the threat? A Avoid: 3...exd4 B Block - can't block the attack of either Pawn or Knight C Capture or Pin Knight - 3...Bg4 D Defend - 3...Nc6 3...Nd7 3...Qf6 3...Qe7 E Counterattack: 3...f5 3...Nf6 Not obvious! Black has many choices. It's worth thinking through each if them to make sure you understand what is going on in this typical opening position. How can you decide? Well, position is a guide - but analysis is proof. However, definitive analysis not always possible - at some point you have to stop analysing and reach a judgement. Let's see if we can pick off two quickly:} 3... Nf6 { Improved Hanham variation This counterattack gives Black a moment to get organised while White defends the e-Pawn.} ( { In fact, White now threatens to win a Pawn for nothing with } 3... a6 4. dxe5 ( { or even better } 4. dxe5 dxe5 5. Qxd8+ $1 Kxd8 6. Nxe5 ) 4... dxe5 5. Nxe5 )

[Event "Lessons in Philidor's Defence"]
[Site "Exeter"]
[Date "2014.06.07"]
[Round "2"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Philidor"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C41"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4
{ and after } 3... Qf6 { white can gain time with}
(3...Qe7 {I don't know any way to prove a win for White here, but I'd
suggest we can say straight away these moves are not good on principle.
Black's moves block either the King's Bishop (Qe7) or King's Knight
(Qf6). So, we can see some more awkwardness coming up for Black. Also,
these moves bring the Queen within reach of White's pieces: moves like}
4.Nc3 {threatens Nd5, making Black waste a move with} 4...c6)
4. Bg5 { . So, only if everything else fails should you consider a move like 3...Qe7. It may be survivable, but is not going to be comfortable. The best you can hope for is to 'get away with it'. Let's look at some others.}

*

[Event "Lessons in Philidor's Defence"]
[Site "Exeter"]
[Date "2014.06.07"]
[Round "3"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Philidor"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C41"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 3... Bg4 { Black pins the Knight, so defending the threat, and develops a piece. So, this looks a bit better than the Queen moves. This move was played in one of best-known games in chess history. The great American Paul Morphy was interrupted during a performance of the opera The Barber of Seville by two toffs wanting a game. They played in consultation, with poor Morphy sat with his back to the action. Morphy went through them like a knife through butter, winning in just 17 moves, so I hope he didn't miss too much of the opera. The whole game is appended, but let's see the start.` Black is actually in difficulties here. How might you try and create problems for Black? Always look at forcing moves first - checks and captures. If these do not win, or force an advantage, then you can turn your mind to slower moves with a clear conscience. But only look at non-forcing moves once you have checked to see you have no way of making trouble for your opponent right now. You may be winning, and not know it! We have no check, but we have a forcing capture:} 4. dxe5 Bxf3 ( { This move indeed causes Black a problem, because the simple } 4... dxe5 5. Qxd8+ Kxd8 6. Nxe5 { loses a Pawn. So Black must play an in-between move before recapturing the pawn.} ) 5. Qxf3 dxe5 { Now White gets the advantage by playing} 6. Bc4 { This is great for White. Six moves into the game and we can count the two Bishops, a lead in development and the initiative in White's favour. So, 3...Bg4 is probably not right.}

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[Event "Lessons in Philidor's Defence"]
[Site "Exeter"]
[Date "2014.06.07"]
[Round "4"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Philidor"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C41"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 3... exd4 { This is not entirely logical, since Black having played 2...d6 to support the e-pawn on e5, now gives up the e5 point. However, it might not be entirely a bad move. Having opened up the centre, Black should try and castle quickly on the King's side. There are two lines, depending on how Black intends to develop the King's Bishop, currently residing on f8. The efficient but passive development of the Bishop on e7 is called Antoshin's Variation:} 4. Nxd4 ( { Another way to play for White ( as in the famous fake game Adams-Torre ) is } 4. Qxd4 Nc6 5. Bb5 Bd7 6. Bxc6 Bxc6 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. Bg5 Be7 9. O-O-O O-O 10. Rhe1 { White has a healthy space advantage, although Black is solid.} ) 4... Be7 ( 4... g6 { In the riskier but more active line played by Larsen, the Bishop is developed in fianchetto on g7: The game might go:} 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Bf4 Nc6 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. Qd2 Nf6 9. O-O-O )

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[Event "Lessons in Philidor's Defence"]
[Site "Exeter"]
[Date "2014.06.07"]
[Round "5"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Philidor"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C41"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4
3... Nc6 { Well, if Black is trying to be consistent, perhaps Black should try to defend the e-Pawn. How should White reply to this?} 4. Bb5 { This renews the threat against the e-pawn.} 4... Bg4 { Not satisfactory because of 5. dxe5, as in the Morphy game.} ( 4... Qf6 ) ( 4... Qe7 { Not satisfactory for reasons we have already looked at} ) ( 4... exd4 { Not satisfactory because having decided to support our Pawn at e5, Black is now giving it up.} ) ( 4... Bd7 ) ( 4... Nf6 { May be possible, in fact lead to the old Steinitz variation of the Ruy Lopez} ) 5. Nc3

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[Event "Lessons in Philidor's Defence"]
[Site "Exeter"]
[Date "2014.06.07"]
[Round "6"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Philidor"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C41"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 3... Nd7 { ( Hanham ) Stops the Bb5 idea White's best is undoubtedly} 4. Bc4 { How should Black reply? Very carefully! Black, having played so safe and solid, is very nearly losing!} 4... Ngf6 ( 4... h6 { being safe?} 5. dxe5 { forcing} 5... Nxe5 ( 5... dxe5 6. Bxf7+ $1 Kxf7 7. Nxe5+ Kf6 8. Qd4 { with a deadly attack worth trying different defences and attacks here - very good teaching position} ) 6. Nxe5 dxe5 7. Bxf7+ $1 { This is a common situation where we have two ideas: try them in a different order, and perhaps you will see something new. Sometimes the order 1 => 2 doesn't work at all, but 2 => 1 wins a Queen. In our example here, the better order just leads to an even better position for us. So, even if you see a good move - don't bash it out, sit on your hands and think for a little while, and perhaps you will find something even better.} ( { Now the obvious line is } 7. Qxd8+ Kxd8 8. Bxf7 { which is good for White, but we can make it a little better with} ) ) ( 4... Be7 { Again, our favourite forcing move is strong:} 5. dxe5 { Instead:} 5... Nxe5 { Follow through forcingly:} ( { Now the simple Pawn recapture is disasrous: } 5... dxe5 6. Qd5 $1 ) 6. Nxe5 dxe5 7. Qh5 $1 { Wins a pawn.} ( { Now if we hope to win the pawn on f7 as in the 4...h6 line, we may be disappointed } 7. Qxd8+ Bxd8 $1 { However, f7 is a little bit tender, and e5 is unprotected... can you see a move which gives Black two problems at once?} ) ) ( 4... c6 { This is the only way to survive, but White can still press hard.} 5. Nc3 { After} ( { For example, we can go forward with the natural } 5. Ng5 Nh6 { But having seen this, White can play a very good move:} 6. a4 { This is obviously a decent idea if it stops Black gaining space on the Queen's-side with ...b5. However , White's move also sets a very subtle trap...} ( { Here White should examine, but perhaps reject, the exciting sacrifice: } 6. Bxf7+ Nxf7 7. Ne6 { when Black may fall for} 7... Qe7 $2 8. Nc7+ Kd8 9. Nxa8 { : White has an exchange, but may lose the Knight - White has also managed to remove from the field of play the only two pieces that we had developed! So Black may start coming forward faster than we would like now, even if he falls into our trap.} ) 6... Be7 7. Bxf7+ Nxf7 8. Ne6 Qb6 9. a5 { that's ( partly ) what the pawn move was for} 9... Qb4+ 10. Bd2 Qc4 ( 10... Qxb2 11. Bc3 ) 11. Nc7+ Kd8 12. b3 { winning the Queen!} ) 5... Be7 { a well-known line goes:} ( 5... h6 6. a4 $1 { is the way to keep the edge.} ) 6. dxe5 dxe5 7. Ng5 Bxg5 ( 7... Nh6 8. Ne6 { ! wins e.g.} 8... fxe6 9. Bxh6 gxh6 10. Qh5+ ) 8. Qh5 g6 ( { or } 8... Qf6 9. Bxg5 Qg6 10. Qh4 { +- Schlechter-Alekhin 1910} ) 9. Qxg5 Qxg5 10. Bxg5 { What have we learned so far? It's surprising how close Black is to losing after these two slow moves, 2...d6 and 3...Nd7. So, if nothing else, we should have learned to be very careful before making such moves ourselves. Also, we should now know to think rather carefully in the opening before replying - some quite good-looking ideas have led to absolute disaster for Black, so it's worth looking for outright wins from the very first moves. Lastly, we have met a lot of nice tactical ideas, which occur in many different openings, not just Philidor's Defence. So, patterns we have seen here may well occur in your own games, even if none of your opponents ever play Philidor's Defence against you. For this reason, it's worth trying to see how many of these ideas you can remember ( or work out again on a board ) without looking at this sheet. There is a lot going on in the opening, and you shouldn't play automatic moves assuming that you know what is going on. Sit on your hands and think! If not [4] 3...Nd7, then what?} )
5. dxe5 ( 5. Ng5 $2 ) 5... dxe5 ( 5... Nxe5 6. Nxe5 dxe5 7. Bxf7+ { wins a pawn, but not so straightforwardly as you might think at first:} 7... Kxf7 8. Qxd8 Bb4+ 9. Qd2 Bxd2+ 10. Nxd2 ) 6. Ng5 $1
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[Event "Lessons in Philidor's Defence"]
[Site "Exeter"]
[Date "2014.06.07"]
[Round "7"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Philidor"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C41"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 3... f5 { but perhaps best is:} 4. Nc3 { White has tried many moves here:} ( 4. Bc4 ) ( 4. dxe5 ) ( 4. exf5 ) 4... fxe4 5. Nxe4 d5 { Now, one idea is:} 6. Nxe5 dxe4 7. Qh5+

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[Event "Lessons in Philidor's Defence"]
[Site "Exeter"]
[Date "2014.06.07"]
[Round "8"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Philidor"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C41"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 ( { Another line giving white a simple small advantage is } 4. dxe5 Nxe4 5. Qd5 Nc5 6. Bg5 ) 4... Nbd7 { {Reaching a Hanham-style position with Nc3 not Bc4
( cf. Hanham: with B on c4 Ng5 wins. ) Now} 5. Bc4 Be7 { The attempt to refute the defence, if it is refutable, is} 6. dxe5 ( { Simple is } 6. O-O O-O 7. a4 { with a close battle ahead.} ) ( { BCO gives here } 6. Ng5 $5 ) 6... Nxe5 { Instead BCO prefers} ( { On } 6... dxe5 { then the aggressive} 7. Ng5 O-O 8. Bxf7+ Rxf7 9. Ne6 Qe8 10. Nxc7 Qd8 11. Nxa8 $2 { seems to be a mistake because of} 11... b5 12. Nd5 { - may be it's not clear, but maybe White should do better. Again, we have managed to remove from the field of play the only two pieces that we had developed!} ) 7. Nxe5 ( { Now Levy says here } 7. Be2 $1 { should preserve a plus.} ) 7... dxe5 { when Black is far from refuted.}
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Chess Quotes

From: Dan Scoones

Moments when you should sense DANGER in chess:

  1. There has been a change in the pawn structure. Your opponent has 8 and you don't have any.
  2. Your opponent begins to throw pawns at your eyes.
  3. You have a postion won but your opponent has a gun.
  4. The Director tells you not to bother turning in your scoresheet after the game.
  5. Before game begins you notice your opponents 1st initials are 'GM'.
  6. After completing your development you sense your opponent playing the endgame.
— -- I don't know the composer of this - anyone? By the way, I.M. George is distinguished local player! Ian isn't actually an IM but he won the West of England Championship last year