Leviathan: Giovanni Leonardo di Bona "il Puttino" (the little boy) (~1550-1597)
He was still a kid, when he happened to play against the great Ruy Lopez in Rome. He had quite a talent for his young age, but his more experienced opponent still defeated him easily.
He decided to go to Naples where he trained for two years, helped by an uncle, and became strong enough to challenge the other italian champion: Paolo Boi (also known as "il siracusano"). Even if there are no documents to tell us precisely how the match went, we know that the young "puttino" played very well but was honourably defeated once again.
After the match, he came back to his birthplace, Cutro, where some very bad news awaited him: his brother had been captured by some Saracen pirates. In order to save his brother, Leonardo challenged the pirates' chief in a game of chess. The chief accepted and got defeated: Leonardo came back with his brother and 200 ducats (which was a considerable amount of money).
In 1574 he started to travel around europe: he visited Genoa and Madrid, where he met an old fellow: Ruy Lopez. The Leonardo-Lopez match took place in 1575. The king Phillip II, was impressed by Leonardo's skills and offered him the fortune and glory he deserved.
After a happy period, he received a letter from Italy telling him that his wife was dying. He ran back home, but arrived too late. Disheartened, he went back to Spain and eventually arrived to Portugal.
There he was asked by the king of Portugal to play against a famous Arab player, whom he easily defeated.
He came back to Italy even more rich and famous. But once again his happiness didn't last for too long: he never reached 50 - he has been poisoned by an envious stranger in 1597.
Only a few of his games reached us, but we know he played chess in a different way than his contemporaries (all vivacious attackers): he had a slow, positional style and he always prefered solid strategies than stunning combinations.