Gioachino Greco

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Greco's manual

Gioacchino Greco (c. 1600 – c. 1634) was an Italian chess player and writer. He recorded some of the earliest chess games known. His games, all against anonymous opponents ("NN"), were quite possibly constructs (Hooper & Whyld 1992), but served as highly useful tools for spotting opening traps.

Mikhail Botvinnik considered Greco to be the first professional chess player (Gufeld & Stetsko 1996:5).

Greco was also known in Italy as il Calabrese ("the Calabrian"). Some sources quote that his parents were Greeks and that he had been born at Celico, a village near Cosenza (Murray 2012:828).


Greco was a remarkable chess player in the era between Ruy López de Segura and François-André Danican Philidor, and authored a famous manual containing many traps and checkmating patterns. As one of the players during the age of "Italian Romantic Style", he studied the Giuoco Piano (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5) and published his analysis in the form of short games around 1625. In 1656, after his death, the manuscripts were published by Francis Beale in London. These games are regarded as classics of early chess literature and are sometimes still taught to beginners.

Greco paved the way for many of the attacking legends of the Romantic era, such as Adolf Anderssen, Paul Morphy, and François Philidor.

Example games[edit]

Among his games/constructions were the first smothered mate:

NN vs. Greco, 1620
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0 Nf6 5.Re1 0-0 6.c3 Qe7 7.d4 exd4 8.e5 Ng4 9.cxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 Qh4 11.Nf3 Qxf2+ 12.Kh1 Qg1+ 13.Nxg1 Nf2# 0–1

and this impressive queen sacrifice:

Greco vs. NN, 1619
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Nf6 7.gxh7+ Nxh5 8.Bg6# 1–0


This composition by Greco uses the theme of the wrong rook pawn:

Greco, 1623
a8 black rook
f5 black bishop
g5 black king
f3 white bishop
f2 white rook
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
g1 white king
Black to move and draw
Solution: 1...Ra1+ 2.Rf1 Rxf1+ 3.Kxf1 Bh3! and Black will sacrifice his bishop for the g-pawn or it will transform into an h-pawn after 4.gxh3 (Averbakh 1996:85).

See also[edit]


External links[edit]