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The Philidor Position

The Philidor Position is another one of those fundamental rook ending tactics, you must know, to do well in endgames. Understanding this position, may help you get a draw, instead of a lost game the next time you play a good game of chess.

Fortunately the position is rather easy to learn. Arriving in the endgame, the opponent has a rook and pawn against a lonely rook. This has been illustrated in figure 1.

Endgame tactics - figure 1
Figure 1

In this case, black is the opponent who is up a pawn. Notice how black is cutting off the white king on the back rank. What white must do now, is move his rook to the third rank, keep it active there, and wait for black to eventually advance his pawn, as shown in figure 2.

Endgame tactics - figure 2
Figure 2

As black moves his pawn to e3, the draw is within sight. White should now move his rook to the eighth rank, and from this position he can give an endless amount of checks, as black's king has nowhere to hide (see figure 3).

Thus the moves getting from figure 2 to figure 3 would be:
1. .. e3
2. Ra8 Kd3
Endgame tactics - figure 3
Figure 3

Again, white's rook can now go on giving black checks, as illustrated with the white arrow in figure 3.

The Philidor Position is also called the Philidor Defense. It was named from François-André Danican Philidor, who analyzed this position back in 1777.

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