PHILIDOR (François André Danican, known as)

Analyse du jeu des échecs. Avec une nouvelle Notation abrégée et des Planches où se trouve figurée la situation de jeu pour les Renvois et les Fins de parties par l’auteur des Stratagèmes des échecs. Nouvelle édition.

Paris, Chez Causette [Strasbourg, Amand Koenig], 1820.

Small 12mo, contemporary green half calf over dark green paper boards, spine with gilt fillets and lettering. 148 pp., engraved frontispiece portrait of the author, numerous chess notations in text, 42 colour-printed plates showing the chess positions. Complete.

New edition considered the best and definitive of this important treatise written by one of the most famous eighteenth-century chess players, one of the earliest theoreticians of the chess game.

Published for the first time in 1749, the book is here edited and expanded by Alfred de Montigny, himself the author of Chess Stratagems and introducer of a landmark system of notation and piece designation. The chess boards on the charming plates are printed in green and white, and capitals in black and red indicate the chess pieces.

François-André Danican Philidor (1726-1795), the greatest chess player of his day, and one of the fathers of the opéra-comique. “A profound musician”, Grétry wrote after Philidor’s death (Mercure français, 1795), “he was the first to bring to the French stage the melodious accents of the Italians combined with the strength of German harmony and genius”. Philidor’s family had been court musicians since the time of Louis XIII (1610–43).  His father was Louis XIV’s musician of the royal chapel and librarian; his elder brother, the oboist at the Grande Écurie, founded the Concert Spirituel. The young Philidor studied with Campra (composer of Tancrède) at Versailles and composed his first motet at 12. Around this time, he learnt to play chess.  He lived in London for a decade, once playing three games simultaneously, with his back to the board, and beating his opponents.  His only published monumental book, “Analyse des échecs” (1749), was the standard text for over a century.

Lovely clean copy in period binding. Pale green stain on the fore-edge.

Ref. Bibliotheca scaccariana, n° 309 / Catalogue van de Schaakboekerij Niemeijer, n°1799 / Gay, Bibliographie du jeu des échecs, p. 109.