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NN vs Gioachino Greco
Miscellaneous game (1620), ?, rd 27
French Defense: Advance. Euwe Variation (C02)  ·  0-1



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Nov-15-08  gambitfan: gtm hetero bishop endgame +1

a nice bishop endgame !

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: From

Jeremy Silman (Los Angeles, CA, USA) informs us that he has been studying the games of Gioacchino Greco (1600-circa 1634) with increasing admiration:

‘There are many games which show Greco toying with his hopelessly over-matched opponents, and one gains the impression that he was a master of tactics and of open games, and that he was so far beyond other players of his time that it was, in effect, a case of a grandmaster versus players rated between 1000 and 1800. Once in a while, Greco would face someone who could fight back, which allows us to see Greco’s positional skills. It is possible that some, or even all, of the games were fabricated, but even if they were inventions they still show a chess understanding centuries ahead of his time.

< 11. bxc4>

(Black has to recapture the pawn on c4. Either choice is playable, but one stands out above the other.) <11…dxc4> (Breaking the old “always capture towards the center” rule. This gives Black far more to work with than the pedestrian 11...bxc4. With 11...dxc4, Black creates a home on d5 for a knight, opens up the a8-h1 diagonal for his queen (and potentially for his light-squared bishop too) and, most importantly, creates a queen’s-side majority of pawns. This means that Black, whenever he chooses to do so, can make a passed pawn by ...b4.) ...>

Jan-05-10  David2009: NN vs Greco, 1620: NN played very well (game 73) until he blundered at move 37:

click for larger view

Now 37 g5?? surrenders the white squares: instead 37.Kf2 holds: e.g. 37...Be4 38.Kg3 Kg6 39.Kh4 Bf3 40.Kg3 with a draw.

<Jan-01-05 Milo: How about 37.gxh5? I'm no expert, but 37...Bxh5 38.Kh2 Kg6 (38...Kh6 39.h4) 39.Kg3 seems like it ought to hold, to me>. This line seems to lose: the BK penetrates e.g. 37.gxh5 Bxh5 38.Kh2 Kg6 39.Kg3 Kf5. Alternatively 37.gxh5 Bxh5 38.Kf2 Kg6 39.Ke3 Kf5 40.Bf8 g6 41.Be7 Bd1 42.Bf8 Bc2 43.Be7 Be4 44.Bf8 Bg2 45.h4 Kg4 46.Be7 Bd5

click for larger view

and White (to play) is in zugzwang.

In opposite-coloured Bishop endings, the defender needs to contest the squares covered by the attacking Bishop with his Pawns. To do this safely, the defender should not move Pawns without a clear reason. For example 34 g4! was correct (otherwise the BK marches in) as was 36 h3!. White needs to contest the White squares, posting all white Pawns on Black squares is hopeless.

On-line link to the position at move 37 to explore these variations: You are white, drag and drop the move you want to make. Enjoy!

Jan-05-10  ounos: From a cursory look, it seems that NN missed a win with 27. Be7

click for larger view

Blocking the queen-side pawns. The point being 27. ...Qxe7 28. Qxd3:

click for larger view

May-21-10  Arbiter58: <David2009: NN played very well (game 73) until he blundered at move 37: Now 37 g5?? surrenders the white squares: instead 37.Kf2 holds: e.g. 37...Be4 38.Kg3 Kg6 39.Kh4 Bf3 40.Kg3 with a draw>

NN had no good move at this time any more. 37 Kf2 hxg4 38 hxg4 Bxg4 wins a pawn and black has two pawns left and right running. And the white squares are of course also open.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: Ah, excellent... I'm trying to find examples of modern positional play against the currently fashionable 5...Bd7 in the hypermodern 3...c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 continuation of the Advanced French. Oh, wait, this game was played in 1620.
Jun-22-11  Llawdogg: Nice endgame play by Greco.
Dec-22-11  thomastonk: David2009 wrote that 37. gxh5 seems to lose, but this is not correct. White's plan for a draw is simple: bring the king to e3, and if the black king is close to the white pawns play alternately Be7 and Bd6; both moves prevent a successfull g5. If the black king tries to reach the b-pawn via e1, then avoid this by Bb4 and Bc3. Black cannot make any progress. White's h pawn is not needed for this plan and there is no zugzwang.

Of course, 37. g5 is a mistake, but it is no capital blunder as some people assume. The decisive mistake is in fact 42. Bf8. Instead 42. g6, which could also been played one move before, holds a draw by the method described above.

Feb-04-12  fokers13: Actually I see everyone so far has missed the real blunder which was the cause of all of white's troubles which is none other than 27.Nb3?

Instead i almost immediately noticed a very nice little tactical shot which brings the dark squared bishop to the defense and thus maintains the balance.

27.Be7!! and if the bishop is taken 28.Qxd3! and black can't hope to advance his pawns.

However i got to hand it to both of these players as quite a few have pointed out already white defended valiantly and Greco made a brave intuitive sac.

Feb-04-12  thomastonk: <fokers13> Nice to see that someone looks at this old game! I have analysed all stages some time ago, but only presented the drawing idea for the ending so far.

You write of "the real blunder", but it is only one mistake of many in this game. I give some examples starting with the knight sac, but first let me remark that we do not know who played this game, so I will speak about White and Black, but not of Greco.

21.. Nxd4? is maybe brave, but not very strong against a player with better defensive skills. Instead 21.. Re8, which prevents Be7 is a good preparation move for the sac and for other continuations as well. Black is clearly better then.

23. Kh1? is another mistake. Much better is 23.Qf2, of course.

23... b4 is slightly better than 23... Be4, and 24.Qd2 could be much better than 24.Qc3, but that is all quite complicated.

26... Rc8? is a serious mistake. Much better is 26... Ra8 with good winning chances.

27.Be7! is much better than 27.Nb3? as you wrote, but is White really lost after this mistake? After 27. Nb3 cxb3 we always get an ending with bishops of opposite color, where Black is a pawn up, but, so I think, it is a draw. But nevertheless you could be right calling 27.Nb3? decisive, maybe after 27.. Qa3. I would enjoy to share more ideas, if you like.

Feb-04-12  fokers13: Yes you are indeed correct in both your assessments of Qa3 being superior to the text and probably winning(i posted my comment with that move in mind).I was immensely glad to get a response to my kibitz so soon no less and thus i'd like to add about your other points that after scrutinising the game more deeply these are my conclusions on the game:

While by no means gamebreaking i intensely dislike white's 9.axb5? since the only purpose it serves is opening up the a-file which can only be used by black.A simple developing move like Be2 should be much better. I also fail to see the point of 15..Bxg5 which trades the black squared bishop which could serve in the advancing of the b e stationed in e4 but who really hathreatening once stationed in e4 but who really has no s play 0-0 in his stead.into.I think i'd rather play 0-0 in his stead. 19.f4? as well as the following Q moves are nice(?) little lemons weakening white's castle and wasting time allowing the black knight invasion.19.Qg4 would have been more consistent with white's play and should keep the equilibrium. I find myself mostly agreeing with you on the 21..Nxd4 move.While i still believe it retains a small advantage for black(one that might not be enough for him to win though)Re8 as suggested seems indeed much better.23.Qf2 is also interesting leading to an opposite colored bishop ending in which white should hold the draw.While 23.b4 also seems promising i believe white can once again hold the draw by no means an easy task though i don't doubt this kind of endgame requires a lot of precision. Furthermore,24.Qc3? while seemingly harmless tangles up the white pieces while 24.Qd2 allows a little nice knight maneuver c3-d1-b2 which could serve to blockade the c-pawn once again as well as allow the bishop to return through h4-e1(thanks to the knight no longer being on d2 which would block the aforementioned bishop).

Sadly i have to go for now but hopefully i'll be back soon to share my thoughts on the rest of the game.

Aug-02-16  Frits Fritschy: Arbiter58: You are right, but things aren't as simple as you say. I guess David2009 intended 37 Kf2 hxg4 38 Kg3 and if the bishop plays, 39 hxg4 with good drawing chances. However, black then wins by 38... gxh3! 39 Kxf3 Kg6, for instance 40 Bf8 Kf5 41 Bxg7 h2 42 Kg2 b4 43 Bf8 b3 44 Ba3 Kxe5 45 Kxh2 Kd4 etc. By the way, other kibitzers here give the impression they would consider Isaac Newton a complete moron for not knowing anything about relativity theory...
Sep-28-16  skydust11: I got a 120 score but should have probably been 123 because I put in b1 to queen when I guess I was supposed to keyed it b1Q with a Q representing a queen. Anyways. I don't know what 120 brings me? Novice maybe? :)
May-07-17  Yigor: It's the first occurence of the French defense in this database. 5. Nf3 is called Paulsen attack and 5...Bd7 is the Euwe variation. 6. Be3 is a suboptimal move, the main line is 6. Be2.

PSCC: 2E1e (French defense) -> 2DE1e -> 2DEd1e -> 3E2Dd1e (Advance variation) -> 3E2Dcd1e -> 3E2Dcd1Ce (Paulsen attack and Euwe variation).

Oct-09-18  Chessonly: Do you know plans and ideas in French Defense Advance Variation? Check out:
Jul-30-19  Chesgambit: NN level : expert 100%
he sacrfice knight
Dec-26-19  Marcelo Bruno: Perhaps the longest game of the 17th century: although White moved all his pieces, he lost the game. Black didn't only move his f7 Pawn. Very interesting.
Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: I am impressed by how well this game is played,considering it is 400 years ago.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: <moronovich: I am impressed by how well this game is played,considering it is 400 years ago.>

There is a fair chance this game was never played at all.
Greco`s score is a little too impressive. 79 games played, all won in a brilliant fashion, all presented by himself and all against NN.

<His games, all given with anonymous opponents ("NN", for the Latin nomen nescio), were quite possibly constructs,[3] but served as examples of brilliant combinations.>

Dec-27-19  ndg2: Thanks for digging this game out! Aged pretty well for being 400 old. The end game technique shown is pretty strong considering that systematic endgame treatises only came with Philidor much later. The NN here isn't that patzerish either.
Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: Thanks <Diademas> !

That could explain a lot.

What happened to your avatar ?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Ziryab: The title page of several of Greco's manuscripts states that the games were "composed by ..." (several variations of his name follow in different manuscripts). For instance, the Bodleian MS (London 1623) title reads, "The Ordinary games at Chesses composed by Joachimo Greco an Italian borne in Calabria ..." (continues with the dedication to a person that I cannot quite make out looking at the image in White's <Greco and His Manuscripts> [1919]).

I think is is not a matter of speculation that that the games are composed. Rather, it is a conclusion supported by the original manuscripts.

Even so, it is possible to imagine that some of these compositions could have occurred over the board, too. I have played one of Greco's miniatures three times on chessdotcom in three minute blitz. My opponent varied from those in the database in one of these games, but his novelty is in the collection assembled by Francis Beale (1656). Of Beale's 94 games, only nine can be found on this site (or in the ChessBase database).

Jun-24-20  sea7kenp: One of the few times I've seen Greco play an Endgame.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ziryab: <sea7kenp> Here’s another (recently added): Greco vs NN, 1623
Sep-19-20  Marcelo Bruno: I believe it would be better 40.Bb4 followed by 41.Be1 instead of the text move.
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