Chess in 1749
by Bill Wall, 2021

Books by Bill Wall
In February 1749, a London newspaper advertised a concert series, mentioning Francois-Andre Danican Philidor (1726-1795) and his Coffee House where he played chess. (source: General Advertiser, Feb 17, 1749)

In 1749, Philidor, age 22, returned to England and had 127 subscribers to his first edition chess book. 433 copies of his L'Analyze Des Echecs: Contenant Une Nouvelle Methode Pour apprendre en peu de tems a se perfectioner dans ce Noble Jeu were published in French in London. The book was dedicated to the Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765). Two more French reprints occurred in 1749 and an English version followed in 1750.

The first printing of Philidor's 1749 book contained the list of 127 subscribers (liste des sourcrivans) and contained only 9 games. The second and third printings did not have this list.

The 1749 French edition of Philidor's book, published in London, has the earliest appearance of Philidor's most famous saying, that pawns are the soul (life) of chess. The first occurrence was on page xix of L'Analyze des Echecs. '...les Pions: Ils sont l'ame des Echecs.'

Philidor's chess book was the first chess book that organized the openings, that explained the middlegame, the overall strategy of chess, and the importance of pawn formation. In his book he made the observation that 'les Pions: ils sont l'ame des Echecs' (the Pawns: they are the life of chess). This phrase has become "the pawns are the soul of chess." His book was also the first to examine the rook and bishop vs. rook endgame. It also had some analysis of 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6, Philidor's Defense. From his book:
Philidor — NN, 1749, 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Bc5 3. c3 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. cxd4 Bb6 6. Nc3 O-O 7. Nge2 c6 8. Bd3 d5 9. e5 Ne8 10. Be3 f6 11. Qd2 fxe5 12. dxe5 Be6 13. Nf4 Qe7 14. Bxb6 axb6 15. O-O Nd7 16. Nxe6 Qxe6 17. f4 Nc7 18. Rae1 g6 19. h3 d4 20. Ne4 h6 21. b3 b5 22. g4 Nd5 23. Ng3 Ne3 24. Rxe3 dxe3 25. Qxe3 Rxa2 26. Re1 Qxb3 27. Qe4 Qe6 28. f5 gxf5 29. gxf5 Qd5 30. Qxd5+ cxd5 31. Bxb5 Nb6 32. f6 Rb2 33. Bd3 Kf7 34. Bf5 Nc4 35. Nh5 Rg8+ 36. Bg4 Nd2 37. e6+ Kg6 38. f7 Rf8 39. Nf4+ Kg7 40. Bh5 1-0
Philidor's chess book in 1749 did more to increase the popularity and extend the influence of the game than any previous writer.

In 1749, Mrs. Caroline Howe (1731-1814), the eldest sister of Lord Viscounts Richard and William and grand-daughter of George the first Lord, subscribed to Philidor's 1749 edition. She later bought 5 copies of Philidor's second edition in 1777. In 1790, she subscribed to his third edition. Mrs. Howe was a frequent chess opponent to Benjamin Franklin. Both had copies of Philidor's chess book.

In 1749, Philidor visited the home of the French ambassador Gaston Pierre de Levis (1699-1757), the Duke de Mirepoix. The duke was a patron of chess and gave a weekly dinner to the lovers of chess, in which he was also an expert chess player.

In 1749, a chess club was briefly organized in Dublin, Ireland. [source: Twiss, Chess, 1789. P. 264]

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