Philidor refuted?

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

This is a continuation of IM Robert Ris’ analysis where he tries to prove that the Philidor Defense has been refuted. We reproduce it here with the special permission of, which has also very generously agreed to make the video available to our readers. The main article is here:

If you want to go to the video directly here is the link:

There are just two lines more to take up. We have had to compress some of the variations due to space limitations.

Van Haastert, Edwin (2408) — Broekmeulen, Jasper (2283) [C41]
NED-chT 0708 Netherlands, 2008
[IM Robert Ris]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Be7 6.Bf4 0–0 7.Qd2 d5

This is the main line but if you are not familiar with the position it is hard to play this move.


[8.exd5 Nxd5 9.Nxd5 Qxd5 leads to comfortable play for Black]


If 8…Na6 then simply 9.exd5. The major alternative here is 8…c6 9.Nc7 and then it is either:

• 9…Bb4 10.f3 (10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxa8 Qf6 12.Be3 Nxc3 13.a3 Ba5 14.Bd3) 10…d4 11.Nxa8 Nd5 (11…dxc3 12.bxc3!) 12.exd5 Re8+ 13.Be2 Qf6 14.0–0–0 dxc3 15.Qd4 Aitbayev,A (2321)-Kazhgaleyev,M (2618) Astana 2011 1–0 (27);

• or 9…d4

• 10.Ne2 is not so good because of 10…g5! 11.Be5 (11.Nxa8? gxf4 12.Qxf4 Na6 13.0–0–0 c5 0–1 (50) Varga, Z. (2592)-Bacrot, E. (2712) Mainz 2004; 11.Bxg5 Nxe4! the rook on a8 is immune: 12.Qxd4 Bxg5 13.Qxd8 Rxd8 14.Nxa8?? Bd2+ 15.Kd1 Nxf2#) 11…Nbd7 12.Bxf6 Nxf6 is 13.Qxg5+ (best) 13…Kh8 14.Nxa8 Re8! 15.Qd2 (15.0–0–0? Nxe4 16.Qh5 Nxf2 17.Rxd4 Bg5+ 18.Kb1 Qxd4 19.Qxg5 Qd1+ 20.Nc1 Ne4 (20…Nxh1 21.Qf6+=) 21.Bd3 Qxd3 22.cxd3 Nxg5 Black has the better endgame because of White’s out-of-place knight on a8) 15…Nxe4 16.Qxd4+ Qxd4 17.Nxd4 Bb4+ 18.Ke2 Ng3+ 19.Kf3 Nxh1 20.Bd3 Bg4+ 21.Kxg4 Nxf2+ 22.Kf3 Nxd3 23.cxd3 Rxa8 24.Nf5 ½–½ (53) Huschenbeth, N. (2465)-Schneider, I. (2511) Deizisau 2011)

• 10.Nxa8! is best 10…dxc3 11.Qxd8 Rxd8 12.bxc3 (12.Bxb8? cxb2 13.Rb1 Bb4+ 14.Ke2 Nxe4 things are looking unpleasant for White) 12…Nxe4 (12…Nbd7 13.f3) 13.Bd3 Nc5 (13…Bd6 14.Bxd6 Nxd6 15.0–0–0 Kf8 16.Rhe1 Nd7 (16…Rd7 17.Re3 Ne8 18.Be2; 16…b6 17.Nc7 Rd7 18.Bf5 Nxf5 19.Re8#) 17.Nc7 Nf6 18.c4 b6 19.c5 bxc5 20.Ba6 White is winning. Nijboer, F. (2558)-Broekmeulen, J. (2322) Maastricht 2008. 1–0 (30)) 14.Bxb8 Nxd3+ 15.cxd3 Bf5 16.Bf4 Rxa8 17.Ke2 White is simply an exchange up. Lang, M. (2444)-Mrkvicka, J. (2484) ICCF email 2008 1–0 (47).


[9.exd5? Re8+ 10.Be2 Ne4 11.Qd3 Bf5]


[9…Nxe4? 10.Qxd5 Qxd5 11.Nxd5 White’s pieces are way more active]

10.Nc7 Nxe4 11.Qd4

The move 11.Qe3 does not have a great score 11…Nxc3 (11…Bxc3 12.bxc3 g5 13.Qxe4 Qxc7 14.Qxh7+ Kxh7 15.Bxc7 Bf5 16.f3 Nd7 17.g4 Bg6 18.h4 gxh4 19.c4 Rac8 20.Rxh4+ Kg7 21.Ba5 1–0 (25) Gyimesi, Z. (2553)-Nevednichy, V. (2548) Nova Gorica 2004) 12.bxc3 Ba3+

• 13.Kb1 Na6! 14.Nxa8 (14.Bxa6 bxa6 15.Nxa8 Qa5) 14…Qa5 15.Bxa6 bxa6 16.Ka1 Be6 17.Bc7 (17.Nc7? d4 18.Rxd4 Bc1 19.Nxe6 Bxe3 20.Rd3 Bxf4 21.Nxf4 Qa4 0–1 (30) Kotronias,V (2613)-De la Villa Garcia, J. (2472) Benasque 2009) 17…Qa4 18.c4 (18.Rb1 d4! (18…Qxc2? 19.c4 Qa4 (19…Be7 20.Rhc1) 20.Qb3 Qxb3 21.Rxb3 Bc5 22.Rb8 1–0 (22) Korneev, O. (2587)-Pirrot, D. (2417) Bad Wiessee 2007) 19.Qxd4 Qxc2 20.c4 Bxc4 21.Rb2) 18…dxc4 19.c3 Qc2 20.Rb1 Rxa8 21.Ba5 Bf5 22.Bb4 Qa4 23.Rbe1 Bxb4 24.cxb4 h6 25.Qc3 Bd3 26.Re5 Rb8 27.Ra5 Qxb4 28.Qxb4 Rxb4 29.Rxa6 Rb7 30.Re1 Rc7 0–1 (30) Bick,G (2203)-Priyadharshan, K. (2484) Philadelphia 2016)

• 13.Kd2 Nd7! 14.Nxa8 Bc5 15.Qg3 (15.Qd3 ½–½ (39) Jacko, V. (2279)-Thiede, L. (2446) Austria 2015 15…Nf6 16.f3 Bd7 17.Nc7 Bb6 18.Nb5 cxb5) 15…Nf6 16.Bd3 Nh5 17.Bc7 Qf6 18.Qe5 Qh6+ 19.Ke1 Bd7 20.Bf5 Re8 21.Bxd7 Rxe5+ 22.Bxe5 Qg5 23.Kf1 Qxe5 24.Re1 Qxc3 25.Nc7 Nf6 26.Bf5 Qd2 27.Re2 Qc1+ 28.Re1 Qf4 0–1 (28) Volokitin, A. (2671)-Kobalia, M. (2634) Budva 2009.


He can also take with the knight: 11…Nxc3 12.bxc3 Ba3+ 13.Kb1 Nd7 14.Qa4 (probably White should take on a8 14.Nxa8) 14…Be7 15.Nxa8 Nc5 16.Qxa7 Ne4 17.Be5 Bc5 18.Qa4 Qe7 19.Bd3 (19.f4 Qxe5) 19…Qxe5 20.Bxe4 in this position Black is much better although Grischuk went on to win the game. Grischuk,A (2763)-Mamedyarov,S (2726) Astana 2012 1–0 (51).

12.bxc3 g5?!

[12…Qe7 13.c4 (13.Rd3 Be6 14.Nxa8 c5 15.Qe3 c4 16.Rd4 Qa3+ 17.Kd1 Nxc3+ 18.Kd2 Nb1+ 19.Kd1 Nc6 20.Nc7 ½–½ (45) Savchenko,B (2596)-Rapport,R (2704) Riga 2014 20…Qb2 21.Be5 Bf5) 13…Qa3+ 14.Qb2 Qa5 15.Nxa8 Nxf2 16.Be2 Nxh1 17.Rxh1 Na6 (17…Re8?! 18.Bd2 Qc5 19.Re1 dxc4 20.Nc7 Re4 21.Bf3 Rxe1+ 22.Bxe1) 18.Bd2 Qd8 19.cxd5 Qxd5 20.Bxa6 bxa6 21.Re1 White is clearly better. Durarbayli, V. (2609)-Travadon, L. (2412) Sitges 2019 1–0 (24)]

13.Bg3 Nxg3 14.hxg3 Qxc7 <D>


Initially the engines think that White is losing here but now …

15.Rxh7! Kxh7 16.Qf6!

[Bd3 and Rh1 are coming]

16…Rh8 17.Re1 Be6 18.Qxg5 Bf5 19.Bd3 Bg6

[19…Bxd3 20.Rh1#]

20.Qf6 1–0

Kotronias, Vasilios (2598) — Sedlak, Nikola (2564) [C41]
SCG-chT Vrnjacka Banja (6), 2006
[IM Robert Ris]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Be7 6.Bf4 0–0 7.Qd2 c6 8.0–0–0 b5 9.f3 b4

This is the advantage of playing 7…c6 instead of 7…a6, because now the white knight cannot go to d5.


The knight looks awkward on the edge of the board but it also prevents the march of Black’s a-pawn.

Putting the knight on e2 with 10.Nce2?! is a bit inaccurate 10…c5 11.Nf5 Bxf5 12.exf5 Nc6 White has to take some time to reposition his knight on e2. 13.Kb1 (13.g4 Qa5 14.Kb1 c4 15.Nd4 Nxd4 16.Qxd4 d5 0–1 (67) Pourramezanali, A. (2430)-Kazhgaleyev, M. (2457) Hamedan 2018) 13…d5 (13…c4) 14.g4 d4 15.g5 Nd5 16.f6 Bd6 17.fxg7 Re8 18.Bxd6 Qxd6 19.Ng3 Nc3+ 20.Ka1 Qe6 21.b3 Nxd1 22.Bc4 Qe3 23.Qxd1 Ne5 24.Bd5 Rad8 25.Ne4 d3 26.Kb1 Kxg7 27.Nf6 d2 28.f4 Nd3 29.Bc4 Nf2 30.Nxe8+ Qxe8 0–1 (30) Hansen, E. (2557)-Stevic,H (2620) Skopje 2013.


[10…c5?! should be met by 11.Nb5! (the knights on a4 and b5 look crazy but not so easy to profit from that) 11…Qa5 12.b3 Bd7 13.Bxd6 (13.Nxd6 is also good 13…Bxa4 14.bxa4 Qxa4 15.Kb1 followed by Nf5, Bc4. Not so easy for Black to attack while with his knight on f5 White is in a good position) 13…Bxd6 14.Nxd6 Bxa4 15.bxa4 Qxa4 16.Kb1 Qa3 17.e5 Nfd7 1–0 (51) Pijpers, A. (2465)-Milosevic, M. (2306) Porto Carras 2018 18.e6! fxe6 19.Qe1 with the idea 19…Rf6 20.Qe4]


[11.g4 c5 12.Nf5 Bxa4 13.Nxe7+ Qxe7 14.Bxd6 Qe8 15.Bxc5 a5 leads to very sharp play but I am not sure White should go into this]


[11…c5 12.Nb5 transposes to the game of Pijpers]


[12.e5 isn’t so great 12…Nh5 13.Be3 c5 14.Nxc5 Bxc5 15.g4 Nf6 16.exf6 Qxf6 suddenly Black gets excellent play 17.Kb1 Re8 18.Bf2 a5 19.h4 a4 20.Qg5 axb3 21.cxb3 Qb6 22.Rh2 (22.Qxd5) 22…Nc6 23.Nxc6 Bxf2 24.Nxb4 Qxb4 25.Rxf2 Rxa2 26.Kxa2 Ra8+ 27.Kb2 Qa3+ (27…d4!! 28.Qc1 Be6 29.Bc4 Bxc4 30.Qxc4 Qa3+ 31.Kc2 Qa2+ 32.Kc1 Qxf2 33.Qxd4? Rc8+ 34.Kb1 Qc2+ 35.Ka1 Ra8+) 28.Kc3 (28.Kc2 Rc8+ 29.Bc4 dxc4 30.Rxd7 cxb3+? (30…Qxb3+ 31.Kc1 Qa3+ 32.Rb2 Qa1+ 33.Rb1 Qc3+ 34.Kd1 Qxf3+=) 31.Kb1) 28…Rc8+ 29.Kd2 Qb4+ 30.Ke3 Re8+ 0–1 (30) Sadzikowski, D. (2576)-Plat, V. (2551) Poland 2018]

12…dxe4 13.fxe4

White’s pawns are hanging but what matters are the open files to Black’s king.


[13…Bxg4 14.Be2 c5 15.Bxg4 Qxd4 16.Qxd4 cxd4 17.Bf3! White is winning material because of the threatened e4–e5]

14.Nf5 Bxa4 15.Qxd8 Bxd8 16.bxa4 Nc6 17.e5 Nxg4 18.Bg2 Ngxe5 19.Rhg1 Rc8

[19…g6 20.Bxe5]

20.Bxc6! Nxc6 21.Rxg7+ Kh8 22.Rd6! Bc7 23.Be5! 1–0

Sedlak resigns because after 23.Be5 Bxd6 (23…f6 24.Rdd7) 24.Rg8+ Kxg8 25.Nh6# beautiful line.

Well, I think you will agree with me that IM Robert Ris makes quite a compelling argument.

Once again, thanks to him and to for the chance to show our readers this important analysis, and also for making The Fast and Furious video on Philidor with exd4 available to our readers for free.


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.