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Guila vs Gioacchino Pecci
"The Pope and his Bishops" (game of the day Jun-04-2008)
Perouse (1875)
Italian Game: Classical Variation. Greco Gambit (C53)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-30-04  ToTheDeath: The player of the black pieces in this rout was none other than Gioacchino Pecci, better known as Pope Leo XIII.
Apr-30-04  iron maiden: Wow! No wonder he uses the bishop pair so well!
Sep-23-06  ToTheDeath: Sometimes the Cross is more powerful than the Crown. :)
Nov-03-06  Thrajin: Gioacchino Pecci, better known as "Joe Pesci". :-)
Nov-03-06  Open Defence: or even better known as Joe "Casino - You thalkin' to me punk?" Pesci ?
Nov-03-06  Thrajin: <Open Defence> Yep!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Not a bad finish!
Feb-07-08  D.Observer: A good ♖ sacrifice by Pope Leo XIII.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <WorldChampeen> wrote:

I.A. Horowitz writes in "All about chess" which may be a collection of his columns for the Saturday Review:

And he is speaking of the game versus Guila above:

"The winner of the following brilliant game is another Roman Catholic ecclesiast, Giocchino Cardinal Recci, later to become Pope Leo XIII. It was played in Perugia, about 1875, and was recorded by a famous theologian and chess fancier Maurice de la Taille."- pg. 183

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: I regret that the game seems not to be genuine, according to the meticulous Edward Winter :

3705. Popes (C.N.s 3696 & 3701)
Peter Anderberg (Harmstorf, Germany) reports that the game allegedly played by the future Pope Leo XIII in the mid-1870s was in fact published in the Deutsche Schachzeitung, May 1850, page 175, as having occurred between Shumov and von Jaenisch: 1 e4 e5 2 ♘f3 ♘c6 3 ♗c4 ♗c5 4 c3 ♘f6 5 d4 exd4 6 e5 d5 7 exf6 dxc4 8 ♕e2+ ♗e6 9 fxg7 ♖g8 10 cxd4 ♘xd4 11 ♘xd4 ♗xd4 12 ♕h5 ♕f6 13 O-O ♖xg7 14 ♕b5+ c6 15 ♕xb7 ♖xg2+ 16 ♔xg2 ♕g6+ 17 ♔h1 ♗d5+ 18 f3 ♗xf3+ 19 ♖xf3 ♕g1 mate.

When was the game first associated with the name of Pope Leo XIII?"

Indeed, Chessgames gives this game but says it was played in 1845, and White resigned one move before mate Shumov vs Jaenisch, 1845

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Winter's page below also says:

Pages 790-791 of A History of Chess by H.J.R. Murray (Oxford, 1913) stated that Leo X (1475-1521) was ‘a keen chessplayer’, and we also note a feature ‘Popes as Chessplayers’ on page 272 of Lasker’s Chess Magazine, October 1906, taken from the Johannesburg Sunday Times. This mentioned not only Leo X but also Leo XIII (1810-1903), described as ‘a constant player for over 30 years’ whose ‘skill at the game was by no means mediocre’. Wanted: some facts.


3721. Popes (C.N. 3696, 3701 & 3705)
David R. Sands notes in the Washington Times of 23 April 2005 that we have cast some doubt on the authenticity of the game ascribed to Pope Leo XIII [as below], but he also points out that Francis J. Wellmuth gave various specifics when including it in The Golden Treasury of Chess (New York and Philadelphia, 1943). We quote below Wellmuth’s exact words, from page 63 of the book (and page 47 of a subsequent paperback edition):

‘Played in Perugia, about 1875. The following game, played by Joachim Cardinal Pecci (afterwards Pope Leo XIII) was obtained during my visit at Vatican city in 1925-26, from my old colleague Rev. Maurice de la Taille, S.J., Professor of professors at the Gregorian University, Rome Italy, and author of Mysterium Fidie [sic – Fidei] – F.J.W.’

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Don't be fooled by W Zartobliwy vs K Wojtyla, 1947 either. Another purported "pope" game. The present game is candidate for Game Collection: The dirty dozen

<sneaky pete> , R U there?

Jun-04-08  grasser: So we can't even trust a Pope?
Jun-04-08  newzild: Well, it doesn't matter too much whether or not it's genuine. The rook sac is pretty enough.
Jun-04-08  arnaud1959: <newzild> I agree. In this kind of situation, most of the time, the religios and anti-religious people will try to find an opportunity to defend their ideas, so let's only see the beauty of the game and nothing else.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Black springs a mating attack with 15...Rxg2+! in a well played Italian game. If 16.Kh1 to try and decline the sacrifice, then 16...Rxh2+ 17. Kxh2 Qh4+ 18. Kg2 Qh3+ 19. Kg1 Qg3+! 20. Kh1 Bd5+ 21. f3 Qh3# is the finish.

White could improve in the opening with 7. Bb5 =, which is the standard opening move here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: An outstanding game by black! It is hard put to come up with a better game by a world leader.

His Holyness sure can handle a bishop well-I guess it takes one to know one.

Jun-04-08  jovack: I definitely could have had the black pieces in this game. I really like how black played... he realized when he had enough pieces to go for the kill and finish. White should have realized he had no defenders... yes, the pawn was free, but he should have waited for another move to bring out a defender over to his kingside.
Jun-04-08  aldehyde: hmmmmmmm
Jun-04-08  Peter Nemenyi: <Played in Perugia, about 1875. The following game, played by Joachim Cardinal Pecci (afterwards Pope Leo XIII) was obtained during my visit at Vatican city in 1925-26, from my old colleague Rev. Maurice de la Taille, S.J.>

I'd like to believe that Leo XIII played this game; but whether it's a poem, a painting, or a game of chess at issue, a fifty-year gap between a work's alleged creation and its first attestation is a powerful argument against its authenticity.

Jun-06-08  arnaud1959: <Peter Nemenyi:...a fifty-year gap between a work's alleged creation and its first attestation is a powerful argument against its authenticity.> Not sure. In 1875 I don't know if being a "player" would be good for a pope's reputation. In fact the popes wouldn't have the problems in their lives like any average citizen and it would give them more time to develop their skills in other areas. Despite that we don't know too much about popes who had other interests.
Feb-28-09  WhiteRook48: he works his Catholic bishops well because...
Nov-20-14  Ke2: 7.exf6?

Black played completely perfect, so it's a fitting game for the pope to play or steal.

Nov-20-14  Ke2: Not that it's hard to play Black's moves.
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