Good Philidor and Bad Philidor

For some reason, this just popped into my head. Anyway! Another shout-out to Jeremy Silman’s Complete Endgame Course. Today’s topic: good Philidor and bad Philodor. The Philidor position is a key position in rook versus rook and pawn endgames. If the defender is able to reach a Philidor position, he can hold the draw. The good Philidor is a very easy draw if you know the move. The bad Philidor is slightly more complex.

In the good Philidor, the defender simply occupies the 6th rank. If either White’s king or pawn advances, the defending rook moves to the 1st rank where it has an easy time keeing pawn and king in … wait for it… check. (I admit I have a soft spot for atrocious puns. I probably have used this one before, but I just couldn’t resist.) If king and pawn stay put, the defending rook simply stays on the 6th rank.

In the bad Philidor, White gets to the 6th rank first, so Black has to come up with a different plan. This time, he uses the principles of “short side of the pawn” and “checking distance” by situating his rook behind the pawn and using his king to add an additional defender to the square in front of it, denying White any chance of making progress that way. If White tries to push the king away from the defence of the square, Black uses his long checking distance on the long side of the pawn to threaten infinite checks or a pawn capture by the rook.

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