chess

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Take A Break - SHELBY LY­MAN

Few have been as dom­i­nant in two ma­jor ar­eas of hu­man ac­tiv­ity as An­dré Phili­dor ( 17261795) of France who was a lead­ing opera com­poser as well as a dom­i­nant chess player who — 20 years ahead ahead of his time — played an es­s­es­tial role in defin­ing mod­ern chess. Be­fore Phili­dor, chess was of­ten an ex­er­cise of bru­tal piece en­gage­ment. Pawns were re­garded as foils for the mighty pieces, wait­ing to do their worst in the pur­suit of the en­emy king. But Phili­dor changed that, giv­ing pawns a cen­tral role, e. g. with the apho­rism: “pawns are the soul of chess.” Rather than a kind of de­bris that had to be swept away, be­fore the real game be­gan, they struc­tured the chess bat­tle­field. Pawns could ei­ther help or hin­der the ef­fi­cacy of the piece by be­ing placed cor­rectly. It is not an ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that Phili­dor de­fined the na­ture of mod­ern chess: a con­fronta­tion in which strat­egy — de­ter­mined in large part by pawn po­si­tion — su­per­sedes tac­tics or mere at­tack.

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