Greco, Gioachino (1600-1634)

Le Jeu des eschets, traduit de l'italien de Gioachino Greco, Calabrois.

Paris: J. Le Febvre, 1689


Duodecimo: 14.3 x 8.4 cm. [124], 341, [1] pp.

SECOND FRENCH EDITION (1st French 1669).

A charming copy of a book usually found badly worn and in poor condition. A fine copy in contemporary speckled calf, the spine tooled in gold, with a citron morocco label. Slight wear to the boards, Corners bumped.

Gioachino "the famous Italian" Greco was a masterful chess analyst, head and shoulders above his seventeenth-century contemporaries. His work consists of 94 chess gambits. “Greco’s games are naturally based upon the favorite Italian Openings of the day and it is hardly to be expected that he should have made any considerable addition to the large number of openings that were then known. He is, however, our oldest authority on the Cunningham Gambit… Greco’s great service to chess lies in the fact that he had made this material known to a wider circle of players than Polerio and his contemporaries had ever reached. In this way his MSS. became one of the most important productions in the literature of chess.”(Murray, p. 830)

"Gioachino Greco, also known as Il Calabrese, was born around 1600 in Celico, which near Cosenza in Calabria. Calabria had already produced such players as Leonardo di Bono and Michele di Mauro. Already in 1619, Greco started keeping a notebook of tactics and particularly clever games and he took up the custom of giving copies of his manuscripts to his wealthy patrons. In 1621, Greco left Italy to test himself against players in the rest of Europe. He apparently met with success while traveling for, while traveling from Paris to England, he was waylaid by robbers who divested him of 5,000 scudi, a princely sum. Finally making it to London, he beat all the best players. Sir Francis Godolphin and Nicholas Mountstephen were given copies of his manuscripts. While in London, Greco developed an idea to record entire games, rather than positions, for study and inclusion in his manuscripts. He returned to Paris in 1624 where he rewrote his manuscript collection to reflect his new ideas. He then went to Spain and played at the court of Philip IV. There he beat his mentor and the strongest player of the time (other than himself), don Mariano Morano. He finally returned to Italy where he was enticed to traveling to the New Indies, the Americas, by a Spanish nobleman. He seemingly contracted some disease there and died around 1630 (possibly 1634) at the young age of 30 (34). He generously left all the money he earned at chess to the Jesuits." (See David Hooper, in The Oxford Companion to Chess)

Schmid 187. Murray p. 14