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LCB, Issue #108 --, Enjoy the Magic of Chess at Odds
June 01, 2024

Enjoy the Magic of Chess at Odds

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #108 -- GOTM #78

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All of the great European masters from previous centuries played chess in the cafes of Europe. These games were played for stakes agreed before the game. If there was a disparity in ability between two players as there often was, the chances would be levelled by means of odds.

This means that the stronger player would start with handicaps to make chances even. A small gap could mean the stronger player would simply play as Black. A slightly bigger gap could give White the first two moves or the stronger player could start with one less pawn. Bigger deficits would be handled by odds of Knight, Rook or even Queen.

This is an odds game played in the 18th Century. The great French master, Philidor, was taking refuge in London as the French Revolution was getting into full flow. He was at this time, the best player in the world and knew better than anyone when it was time for a King to get out of town. The odds he gives to his opponent Bruehl suggests that the second player was pretty strong.

Philidor starts without his Queenside Knight but he has White and Bruehl is without the f7-pawn. One advantage of being without the Knight is that the Queen's Rook can often slide over to f1 and come into the game more swiftly than if White started with all his pieces.

Enjoy the Magic of Chess at Odds

Philidor, François André - Bruehl, John M

GotM #78 London, 1789
[Connaughton, Ken]

1.e4 d5 2.e5

White does not let Black send his Queen to d5. He has after all no Queenside Knight to kick her away.

2...Bf5 3.g4

Philidor is the father of pawn play. "Pawns are the soul of chess" is a famous quote of his. Here he prods at the Bishop as he moves his pawn forward with tempo.

3...Bg6 4.h4 h5 5.Nh3 Qd7 6.Nf4 Bf7 7.g5

Game position after 7.g5

Black can't stop both pawns from pushing up and he will get cramped.

7...Qf5 8.d4 Qe4+ 9.Qe2 Qxh1

Game position after


Black is gaining material but he is not developing and must be careful with his Queen alone behind enemy lines.10.g6 Already White gains back some material but he is also well ahead in development.

10...e6 11.Qb5+ Nd7 12.gxf7+ Kd8

(He could have given up the other Knight with 12...Kxf7 13.Qxd7+ Ne7+- but this is losing too.)

13.fxg8Q Rxg8 14.Nxe6+ Kc8 15.Be3 Qxh4

Game position after 15...Qxh4

Looking for counterplay, but White has a strong attack.

16.Qxd5 Be7 17.Ba6!

The White Queen's control of the long diagonal gives Philidor power in attack and defense. The b7-pawn is pinned to two pieces paralyzing Black.


(17...c6?? 18.Qxc6+ Kb8 19.Qxb7#)


c7 feeling the heat.

18...Bd8 19.Bg5

Game position after 19.Bg5

Black resigns as he either gives up his Queen or the crucial defender of c7.


Philidor, François André - Bruehl, John M

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