Chess openings – Philidor Defence

Chess openings – Philidor Defence

Welcome back to Today’s
video is about the Philidor’s defense. The Philidor’s defense is a reply
to the king’s pawn opening which begins with the moves, pawn to e4, pawn
to e5, knight at 3 and now pawn to d6, the Philidor’s defense. In the
Philidor’s defense, by defending the pawn on e5 with a pawn, Black
avoids some of the usual hassles associated with the move, knight to
c6, and then often bishop b5 waiting to the Ruy Lopez. And yet by playing
the move, pawn to d6, Black immediately gives up some of his development
potential especially regarding the bishop on f8. We’ll get a chance to ponder
the implications of this and other things during this video. Let’s
take a look. The Philidor’s defense is employed by Black
in the king’s pawn game after the moves, e4, e5, knight at 3, and now instead
of knight c6 which would be the main line, Black plays d6 and we have
the Philidor’s defense, the subject of this video. The Philidor’s defense
is regarded as a somewhat inferior approach to the defense of the e5
pawn. The reasons for this have to do with the fact that bishop on f8 can
no longer find an active location outside of the pawn chain, and unlike the
move, knight c6, which is the main move, Black has done nothing to increase
his defense over the important d4 square, and we’ll see that White
is able to make use of this factor in just a moment. On the other hand, because Black has defended
the pawn with a pawn, he will find that he does not have to create any weakness
for some time to come. Also Black’s development tends to flow quite
naturally from this position, and it is possible that White may find himself
caught by an opponent who knows the ins and outs of this system a little
bit better. Today we’ll take an upbeat approach to the White side
of this position and look at some of the strategic trumps that White has in
his favor. Now at this point White nearly always takes
the opportunity to place the strategically valuable move, pawn to d4, and
this practically forces Black to play pawn takes pawn on d4, and White recaptures
with knight take d4 reaching the following position. The exchange
of pawns which took place on the square d4 has benefited White in a couple
of ways. In the first place, the move, d2 to d4, itself contributes to
the development by increasing the scope of the dark squared bishop and of the
queen. Also, White has eliminated Black’s most advance central pawn
and this leaves White with space advantage in the center. White’s bishops
each possess a full range of possible squares, whereas Black’s bishops,
particularly his dark squared bishop. are harder to deploy actively, and
due to the exchange on d4 White has gained a free move to bring his knight
to a more centralized square on d4, and this also contributes to the mobility
of the F pawn which can be used aggressively with f2 to f4 or for defensive
purposes with f2 to f3 defending the e4 pawn. This position has much in common with the
Open Sicilian, but notes the important difference that Black does not have
an open C file, but instead an open E file. In some ways, this is useful
for Black, since he may be able to pressure the e4 pawn along the E line.
But mostly, this factor dampens Black’s chances of counter-play, since
he does not have the pawn majority in the center, nor does he have the
open C file, that are the hallmarks of counter-play in the Sicilian. Now if Black’s major issue is the deployment
of his dark squared bishop, why then doesn’t he simply play g6, and deploy
the bishop on g7? It turns out that the move, g6, is a little bit to
weakening for the king side pawn cover, and White can directly exploit this
fact by first setting up his pieces in a standard attacking formation.
This goes knight c3, bishop g7, bishop to e3, knight at 6, queen e2, preparing
the queen side castling, Black castles king side, and now White castles
queen side. And with the White king safely tucked away on the queen
side, White is now able to use his pawns and all of his pieces in an attack
against the weakened king side. And one way to do this is to use the
g6 pawn as a hook for this attack. White can do this by playing for f3,
g4, and h4 to h5 preparing to bring the rook into the attack by opening
the file. White can also assist this plan with bishop h6, exchanging bishops
on the dark squares, and then making use of the dark squares, in order to
continue his attack. Now, if you’re familiar with the Sicilian
dragon, you’ll know that this position is very similar and you’ll know that
all of these things are difficult enough to deal with in the Sicilian.
But here, it’s going to be even more difficult, because Black does not
have the open C file, which assists Black in the Sicilian dragon, in gaining
rapid compensating pressure on White’s position. Therefore, the
move, g6, simply turns out to be to weakening, and White can exploit this
by castling queen side and setting up his pieces and pawn to directly
exploit the weakened king side. Instead, Black almost universally plays knight
to f6, and then after knight c3 he plays bishop to e7. And this is a very
instructive moment, since White now has quite a few options of about
how to proceed. Black’s position has no weaknesses, but he also has
some problems finding active plans for his pieces, and cannot easily threaten
White. White’s first goal is to maintain his pleasant spatial advantage.
In this position, that means White will want to ensure that Black
does not achieve a successful d5 break. Just as important, White wants to be
sure that the e4 pawn receives adequate protection. While restraining Black’s
active possibilities, White will want to develop a plan of gradually developing
an attack against the Black position. One attractive option for White in this position
is to play the move, bishop f4, and this combines attack with restraint
of the opponent’s possibilities. The first basic goal of this
move, bishop f4, is simply to help prepare queen side castling, and White
will do this with the move, queen b2. But after the moves castling king
side and queen to d2, another hidden point of the bishop’s placement of
f4 is revealed. Black’s pawns on the queen side lacks some mobility due to
this aggressive placement. For example, Black cannot even really think of
the move, pawn to c5, since after knight D to b5, the attack on the d6
pawn would be too strong, and this fact arises partly because of the bishop’s
active placement on f4. Another example of this same point is that
many strong players have also tried the move, pawn to d5, but here, too,
the simple reply knight D to b5 has been found to be a very adequate reply,
and this again stems from the aggressive placement of the bishop on f4. On the other hand, White is prepared to advance
his king side pawns forward, and to push Black backwards, and
also to potentially look for opportunities to create a breach in Black’s
king side pawn cover. So an example of how play may continue after queen
b2, is simply knight to c6 preparing to create a square on e6 for the
bishop, castling queen side, knight takes knight on d4, queen takes knight
on e4. And now after bishop e6 and pawn to f3, White is ready to continue
his plan with g2 to g4. Black has still not gotten very far in creating
active possibilities for himself and so White has some advantage. Bishop f4 then, is a promising plan for White
against the Philidor defense. Another promising idea White has is g3, which
very logically extends support to the e4 and d5 squares. In fact,
White has an excellent score with this plan, since the clamp’s positions
will be very hard for Black to find a decent planning. Then White can just
gradually play for an attack at a later phase of the game. Thus, after
Black castles king side, bishop g2, rook e8, castling king side, and now bishop
f8 and White often plays h3 here. White generally takes his time positioning
his pieces and pawns however he’d like, since White still lacks
effective pawn breaks. Quite frequently White still turns to the eventual
expansion of his king side pawn majority and wants to create weaknesses
near Black’s king. g3 and bishop f4 are both in harmony with the overall
plan that we described earlier, of restricting Blacks options to
move his pawns forward or find any meaningful activity for his pieces, while
at the same time preserving a plan, and creating a plan to advance forward
into the position. There’s one more move I’d like to discuss.
Surprisingly, White’s most popular move turns out to be, also, his most
questionable move, and that move is bishop to e2. It’s easy to assume
that White will simply complete development, and a plan will surface on its
own, probably in the form of f2 to f4. But after castling king side, and castling
king side rook e8, White actually finds in this position, that his
options are a bit reduced, because Black’s pieces will get a little bit
of meaningful activity, in the form of an attack on the e4 pawn. In the variations
we saw, beginning with bishop to f4, the move, f2 to f3, was a logical
part of White’s plan since this move would also support the g2 to g4
thrust, which was a logical part of White’s attacking ambitions. In the variation
with pawn to g3, the defense of this pawn had already been accounted
for by the Fianchetto bishop which was on g2. But in this position,
White needs to go a little bit more out of his way to make arrangements
for the defense of the e4 pawn, and he does not want to play f2 to f3,
since the pawn more likely belongs on f4. An example of how play can continue is f4,
bishop f8, bishop f3, and now in this position, Black actually can play pawn
to c5. The knight must retreat, it cannot go to b5 with any threat,
so it must retreat to e2, and then after knight to c6, Black is approximately
equal. Black never had to worry about nagging pressure on d6, and for
his part White hasn’t provided much for his dark squared bishop in the way
of meaningful opportunities. In general, White has squandered the benefits
of his space advantage, because he’s had to take a time-out to defend
the e4 pawn. This is an excellent lesson in why prophylactic thinking
is an essential component of realizing a space advantage, and this simply
means looking ahead at the opponent’s ideas and taking them into account
while crafting your aggressive plan. I hope you enjoyed this look at the Philidor’s
defense. We’ve seen how just a very slight inaccuracy by Black in the opening
can be the basis of long- range plans for White. And we’ve seen how
such long ranging plans are formed and also carried out. At the same time,
we now have concrete ideas about how to handle these positions with both
White and Black. That’s all for today. I’ll see you next time.

100 thoughts on “Chess openings – Philidor Defence

  1. Hei Dereque. What is the point with this opning? I only see alot of weakness in it, and in your video i dont hear anything thats good with this opning, and I never see high rated games with this opning teory.

  2. Dereque, your chess channel is among my two favorite, the other one being The Backyard Professor's channel.I'm anxious to see some of your new videos very soon … maybe you'll post one just before X-mas or New Year's eve?that would be an awesome gift.


  3. It's definitely not popular at the higher levels or even at the lower levels. I think openings like these (somewhat second-rate) are excellent for study though because they demonstrate how White can tenaciously pursue an advantage and likewise help to make Black's more popular methods of play more distinct. Nevertheless, one might wish to play a system like this for it's simplicity, less theory, surprise value or any number of reasons… but it's risky!

  4. Thanks for the answer man! Witch opnings for black for a beginner as me do you think is good too learn? For the most against e4 i do scillian and agains d4 i normally go kings indian deffence. Do you think opnings like caro cahn, semi slav, and slav deffence are good line to practice ? They seems atleast to be popular in higher rated games.

  5. Hit the LIKE icon as usual…….NM Dereque=Cool Presentation+Informative+Tons of awesomeness…..Me and my friends love watching all your videos…..
    -On behalf of True Fans of Dereque and chess!! 🙂

  6. You're welcome! I just now noticed that I seem to have missed your above question: "which openings for black for a beginner as me do you think is good to learn?" … The good news is you can do whatever you'd like. Every one of the openings you mentioned is quite playable, but has various pros and cons. What's wrong with what you're currently doing? Are you considering other openings because you think you need to do so in order to improve or because you are interested in those openings or…?

  7. I watch your videos over and over and keep picking up new tips and ideas. Being an aggressive player I like sharp lines, maybe an idea for a future set of videos; sharp vs solid, and yes I know you point out many of both variations in all these excellent videos. Great work many many thanks

  8. Not -the conclusion… -your- conclusion! 🙂 See the reply to Sondre for reasons why Black may still consider to play the Philidor. I'm sure there are many other potential reasons too. But I'm with you, I don't plan on playing it any time soon.

  9. I am interested in covering some sharp lines at some point, it could be really fun. Thank you for the suggestion and for the very encouraging words

  10. I saw that you are so kind . You are giving answer of each and every question..i wants to know that now a days which engine is best?? many people say hiarcs 14 is best now day what you say??

  11. Hi there Dereque. I'm a new subscriber and would just like to congratulate you on making the most informative chess video series on Youtube. I've used the Philidor as my primary defence to e4 for several monthes and have achieved very good results with it. Certainly better than my results with the French and Caro Kann defences that I'd been using. You seem quite pessimistic about blacks chances but its worked out quite well for me so far. Keep up the good work.

  12. Thank you! I don't feel pessimistic about Black's chances – it really depends a lot on each player, their level, goals, opponents, and simply on what it is you -want- to play of course 🙂

  13. Ah! I pretty much agree. My hope for most players is that they will find the strategic content of this opening interesting and helpful for understanding the opening/midgame in general. Also, since it is played infrequently it wouldn't be worth trying every now and then with Black to see if players fall for 6.Be2 – I recently harassed an Expert in blitz this way and won an excellent game 🙂

  14. Excellent lecture as usual. (I'm starting to feel like it's redundant for me to say that when I comment on a Dereque Kelley video.) I have two questions on it, which I'll have to leave in replies to this comment because of the character limit.

  15. 1) At 5:35, having demonstrated the issues with 4…g3, you say, "Instead, Black almost universally plays …Nf6, and then after Nc3, he plays …Be7".

    1) Is there a reason that these two Black moves must be played in this order? I understand why …Nf6 might be played first on general principle, since it constrains White's response, but what concrete move(s) might White play to take advantage of his freedom after 4…Be7 (that doesn't simply transpose after 5…Nf6 6. Nc3)?

  16. Never mind the second question: I realized the answer (I'd been going to ask, at 7:45 , why Black couldn't play …Be6 immediately, since the Bishop would be defended, but then I saw how White could take advantage of the weakness of the e6 pawn by playing Bc4).

    Thanks again!

  17. Do you have a video on the modern way to play this opening? I feel like the hanham variation is a much more solid and strategically rich way to play this as black and really puts off white players used to the steamroller offences they get from giving up the center in the videos you showed here

  18. thanks for your vids !! although this one follows mainstream reputation of the philidor rather then objectivity : after 6.Bf4 oo 7.Qd2 c6!? b5 9.f3 b4 followed by 10…c5! black has a great game ! (nisipeanu analysis,and I (2160f) am at 100% against stronger opposition)

    and after 6.g3 d5! 7.e5 Ng4, the game is a mess..preparing this line with 3 books and houdini I concluded that white is never better !

    one last thing, 4…Be7 is not "as good as Nf6" : 4…Be7? 5.c4! oops

    thx !!

  19. Dereque very nice work thank you.. Is there any possibility that you made a video for queen's gambit? Maybe Grunfeld? Slav Defense? I would be much appreciated thank you in advance

  20. (1/2) Interesting question! In the event of 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 White can choose between 4.Nc3 and 4.dxe5. After 4.Nc3 exd4 5.Nxd4 we have transposed back into the Philidor. But Black can also play 4…Nbd7 which would transpose to a position which normally comes out of the Pirc (1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7). In this case, Black has a slight but relatively normal disadvantage.

  21. (2/2) However 4.dxe5! disrupts all of this and seems to give White a bigger pull after 4…Nxe4 and now either 5.Qd5 Nc5 6.Bg5 Be7 (6…Qd7 7.exd6 Bxd6 8.Nc3 +=) 7.exd6 Qxd6 8.Nc3 += or 5.Bc4 c6 6.exd6 += (or 6.Nbd2!? +=). The issue in these lines is that Black's repeated movements of the king's knight will cost him valuable time and coordination.

  22. Hi, Deregue.
    What do you think about black´s chans after: 1.e4,e5;2.Nf3,d6;3.d4,Nd7;
    4.Bc4,c6;5.0-0,Be7;6.Nc3,h6;7.a4;a5 followed by 8.—Ngf6…9.— Rh7,10.—g5…
    11-.–Nf8,12.—-Ng6 whith …Nf4 etc,etc.

  23. I don't now much about this idea, but one important point is that White has a strong resource in 6.dxe5! dxe5 7.Ng5 Bxg5 8.Qh5 gaining the bishop pair and an advantage. The position after 7.a4 O-O (not 7…a5) is most often reached via a Pirc move order 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 etc. Black is pretty solid but I think White has a much more pleasant position. Very recently (yesterday!) Topalov beat Morozevich in exactly this position with White. Check it out 🙂

  24. Awesome video. Please I need help with the Petrov Defence. If you could make a video for the Petrov Defence I would be so Greatful.

  25. Thanks Dereque for this video, I'd go with same against e4. I'd be grateful to you if you can suggest me more about Alekhine's defence…Thanks a million

  26. Dereque, none of the black lines with c6 and Qc7 are shown in the video.  I was wondering what the reasoning was behind that.  In the Philidor, black's counterplay usually comes from queenside expansion which white tries to half with a4.  However, I don't think Nc6 is a main line way for black to play the Philidor if he hopes to get any real play.  Comments would be appreciated.

  27. very informative, whenever I search for an opening video and see yours I click on it over the others. Concisely explained. Thank you very much. Subscribed!

  28. Great video! I generally go for the Ruy Lopez with white, but I often end up facing this defence. My standard line is "3. h3" to prevent the knight-pin by black's light-squared bishop. That has worked well for me, but I've always wanted to find a strong alternative, and I've never really considered "3. d4." I've looked at some top level GM games to figure out how to play this, but your video does a great job of breaking down the theories of this opening. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  29. Hi Dereque, nice video, beautiful chess board, but repeating the first two moves in the beginning is unnecessary, plus, you only explore one variation and I would like to point out that in live chess games online e.g. this variation is very rarely played, at least I have never ever encountered a fianchetto in the Philidor, neither did any of my opponents take on d4 right away since it is obviously what White would like to see; Black gives up the center which leads to a very passive position. So WHY would Black be forced to take on d4?? Most often Black plays Nc6 anyways and even though White can take on e5, forcing Black to give up castling or a pawn, White's position is not pleasant after that at all or at the very least, not very exciting…also the Bishop comes to g4 sooner or later, and even if White plays Bc4 before that, threaten to play Bxf7+, after Ke8 and Qxg4, Black will capture on d4 with the Knight and then White needs to respond to the Knight fork on c2…. there are many ways of Black to play well. I believe those lines are much more important to show, and in general, to explore one single variation up to ten moves or so does not bring much at all, what beginners need is a thorough understanding of the variety of moves which can appear right away and how to handle them. Theoretical booklines is the last you're gonna see in everyday chess.

  30. Nice video Dereque.  Black's ideas are much richer with 1…d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 and here black need not play exd4, rather he leaves the pawn tension in the center for now and proceeds with Be7 and O-O entering the hanham variation.  Your coverage of Bf4 lines was outstanding, by the way.

  31. HI Dereque, you're just awesome man. I'm just a noob but I'm learning a lot from your videos. The fact that you physically explain all these videos with a smiling face  makes me want to learn more. Please keep making more videos. :). 
    Thank You.!

  32. Hi Dereque…  I've been playing for nearly 50 years and your videos are taking my game to a new level.  Thank you VERY much!  I hope that at some point you can get more of your apps ported to android. 

  33. Mr kelley could you please make a Video about the bird opening I think this would be really interresting:)

  34. Your videos are excellent. May I suggest, that  you write a phrase next to the board, for example "Dragon" or "Advanced Variation" at the respective variants? This way it will be very clear throughout the video, which variant is currently begin discussed. Thank you!!

  35. As white I had  good game against philidor defense andafter knight c3 I played bishop c4 and then bishop b3 and in computer analysis it was not a mistake and with that bishop and queen I made a checkmate with queen h7 h8 cause black casled and closed with rock from a8 to e8.    

      Dereque in a professional game would black find it difficult with bishop c4 b3  or it is a move that would destroy white considering white castles on kings side?

  36. This doesn't help against players who won't play exd4, the Callaham attack being an example of a system designed after the fact that black can play Nf6 (4.dxe5 Nxe4 5.Qe5 Nc5) 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7  6.0-0 0-0

  37. So in other words; don't play the Philidor. Dereque I love these videos. Every time I take on learning a new opening your videos are the first I look for. Thanks for all your work.

  38. I'm an amateur chess player, and I have to face off against an a-class player in a couple weeks at blitz. I normally play e4 with white. My suspicion is that if i play white, i might run into the french defense, but I'm hoping to god he doesn't play the kings gambit. I feel pretty comfortable as white in a few openings (mainly sicilian and italian.) against the queens gambit as black, i normally just try to trudge through it, and normally decline. Can you give me any advice about making my game its best to give me a sporting chance against this a class player?

  39. Wow. I've never really thought about flanking the f1-bishop much before here. I usually developed it to c4 or e2, where black would chase my pieces around with his queenside pawns. Thanks!

  40. really love your video, i just subcribed. thanks so much for your time and opening up with your knowledge.

  41. As a beginner how should I go about studying opening moves? I watched the video but honestly had trouble following because of all the change up situations. The presenter did a great job though.

  42. I don't know if you know this, but in there's a lot of nice comments about you.

  43. thank you thank you thank you for the videos. your assessment of chess openings is so clear and easy to understand. you have a gift my friend. keep up the great work!

  44. just faced the philidor the first time and interestingly i played almost all the right moves without ever seeing it! must be all your videos teaching me general knowledge :3

  45. Excellent lecture! Until watching this video, I never really knew, how to respond to Philidor Defence. Thank you, Dereque.

  46. Why not Bc4 consolidating control of d5 and putting the bishop on an excellent diagonal to attack the king?

  47. You're videos are by far the best opening videos you can find on the internet! They are especially good because you also show how to play as white in openings for black and the other way around.

  48. Against the yoegaslav attack a6 b5 (pawn storm from black) can be devastating when having a long rokade. I choose not to play anymore. But it is a very Nice attack.

  49. Hi there, just wondering what are your thoughts on the Black Lion? Saw some vids on that, so now checking out the Philidor. Since they're related would you not recommend playing the Black Lion so much either? Cheers!

  50. What about Bc4? That’s usually how I choose to deploy the bishop. I pair it with Bf4 and retain the possibility of castling either kingside or queenside, whichever one suits my mood I guess. Is it illogical to develop the bishop to c4 before castling queenside?

  51. This is just one variation of the Philidor….i think you chose the least dynamic lines for black in this video . On move 4 black can maintain tension in the center with nbd7, the so called hanham variation. I play this regularly and often beat much stronger players, the positions are generally solid and require patience from both sides, however most white players underestimate the Philidor thus lash out too soon in an attempt to punish this "inferior"opening and end up losing quite quickly..

  52. Hi Dereque, I love it if you could do some videos on Nimzowitch Defense, English Opening, and maybe some of the other Sicilians.

  53. In, playing 10 min blitz, half the time my opponents playing black go for the philidor. I cannot fathom why! I used to play 6. Bc4, but your suggestion of Bf4 and later 0-0-0 is awesome. I will try from now on.

  54. Best opening tutorials on the internet. Thank you for the great content. I often watch your videos before teaching my students.


  55. Haha did you record this video backwards? It's night time at 0:07, evening at 1:08, late afternoon at 3:50 and early afternoon at 6:29. Wtf 😂

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