Examining the Philidor Pattern

What do the following eight positions have in common (besides two general facts: queen-vs-rook and in-the-corner)?

endgame of queen vs rook - Philidor 01



02 Q-vs-R end game



Another angle of the same Philidor



Philidor with defending king on g8



Another queen-versus-rook Philidor



Q versus R Philidor with black king at h2

Diagram-6 (only two more after this one)


Q at d1 Philidor position



Philidor position of queen versus rook

Diagram-8 (basically the same pattern as the other seven)

Each of these eight positions is a Philidor queen-vs-rook corner position. In essence, there are not eight versions of the Philidor, nor four versions with reflections nor even two with double reflections: Each is the same pattern, the same Q-vs-R Philidor. How should we define this pattern?

We could define it thus:

  1. The defending rook is one diagonal-move from a corner
  2. The attacking king is two diagonal-moves from that same corner
  3. The queen is a knight’s move away from both its king and the rook
  4. The defending king is next to both that corner and the rook but is not in check

Set up those four pieces according to the above instructions and you’ve got one of the eight positions. All Philidor positions (in Q-vs-R) have something else in common, although it cannot be seen by staring at the board. The essence of the position is this: defender to move. The side having the move is at a disadvantage, although the attacker has a way to transfer the move back to the defender, who does not have that luxury of transfer. In other words, when the attacker has the move the queen triangulates to make it the defender’s turn to move, and that position is a zugzwang for the side with the rook.

The details of how the attacker wins against any of the defender’s move-choices—that we leave for another time. For now, to be brief, the rook needs to run away, yet the queen can check the defending king, as necessary, and hunt down that rook.



Philidor Position – Grimmell Youtube video

One of two end-point positions in the QvR endgame

End Game of Queen Versus Rook

Let’s examine a particular corner defense in the queen-vs-rook chess end game. [not the Philidor]

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