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The Forgotten Philidor
December 28, 2004


    Deep within the bowels of the country's oldest institution of it's kind, amid the musty memories preserved inside the half-forgotten, ancient tomes, quill and whale oil his only tools, the Ecclesiast fulfills his un-relenting, sacred trust handed down in spirit from the medieval monks.

    The Ecclesiast is none other than the Bishop Berkeley. The institution is the Mechanics' Institute Chess & Checker Club of San Francisco. The rest is poetic license, but the results are the same.

   The Mechanics' Institute Chess & Checker Club, founded in 1854, is the oldest continuous chess club in the U.S. Located as it is in the Mechanics' Institute, it is associated with what is the oldest library on the west coast and the largest membership library in the world.

   Originally located on Montgomery Street between Sutter and Post, it moved to a new Montgomery Street location between California and
Pine in 1858. Five years later, it moved again to California Street between Kearny and Montgomery and finally, one last move in 1866 put it at its present location, 31 Post Street where a three story building was erected. In 1906, The mechanics' Institute merged with the Mercantile Library to give it over 200,000 volumes, but the destruction caused by famous San Francisco earthquake that same year was devastating. The Institute immediately started rebuilding its library collection and by 1910 had replaced the destroyed building with the nine story structure that stands there today. The Chess Club is on the fourth floor directly above the library.

   Many revered chess masters have graced the Institute with their presence. Among them were Capablanca, Lasker, Zuckertort, Pillsbury, Alekhine, Marshall, Maroczy, Euwe and Gligoric.


ow, back to the story...


One of the books discovered by  Bishop Berkeley is entitled, An Easy Introduction to the Game of Chess, published in 1813 under the name, Philidor.

Of course, Philidor never wrote a book with that title. Philidor's only book was L'analyse du jue des Eschecs.

This book was printed in London
(an American edition was printed in 1824) and contains the entirety of Philidor's work with the addition of many other "extras".

Left is the Binding, showing "Philidor."

Right is the Title Page, highlighting the contents







Below is the actual "Table of Contents":

(note that some of the scans are slanted. Bishop Berkeley informed me that, due to the delicate condition of the book, certain reverential care was required which affected the output, but not the book itself)

Here, I'm going to depart from the "blog" format and slip into the website format. There are some pages from this book worth viewing, for which I'll provide links. There are games, written in an arcane format, which I'll present "as is" and with a game viewer. Most of these games by Philidor are not, to my knowledge, available on the internet. Since the notation is so arcane, I am translating them very slowly, one at a time and I'll update this entry as I go.

Chess Anecdotes

An Easy Introduction to Chess - published in 1813
     - containing the Rules, the Movement of the Pieces and
       the Laws governing the proper Execution of the Game

An Easy Introduction to Chess - published in 1813
      - Chess Variants

Philidor's Games

     XCII - a modern vindication







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