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François-André Danican Philidor

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Biography

François-André Danican Philidor (7th September 1726-31st August 1795) was a French chess player and composer. He was regarded as the best chess player of his age, although the title of World Chess Champion was not yet in existence. Philidor’s book Analyse du jeu des echecs was considered a standard chess manual for at least a century. He is referred to here as André Danican Philidor, the name commonly used during his lifetime.

Philidor joined the Royal choir of Louis XV in 1732 at the age of six, and made his first attempt at the composition of a song at the age of eleven. It was said that Louis XV wanted to listen to the choir almost every day, and the singers, while waiting for the king to arrive, played chess to relieve their boredom; this may have sparked Philidor’s interest in the game. From 1750 to 1770, Philidor was a leading opera composer in France, and during his musical career he wrote twenty-one music comedies and one opera. However, when he felt that he was being surpassed by other composers, such as André Ernest Modeste Grétry, Philidor decided to concentrate on chess.

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