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Gioachino Greco
No authentic image of Greco is known to exist.
This fanciful rendition appeared in Julio Ganzo's
Historia general del ajedrez, 3rd ed.
(Madrid, 1973), p. 88.
Number of games in database: 90
Years covered: 1620 to 1625

Overall record: +88 -0 =0 (100.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 2 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 King's Gambit Accepted (19) 
    C33 C34 C37 C38 C39
 Giuoco Piano (16) 
    C54 C53
 Bishop's Opening (10) 
 King's Pawn Game (6) 
    C40 C20
 Philidor's Defense (4) 
With the Black pieces:
 King's Pawn Game (6) 
    C40 C20
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Greco vs NN, 1623 1-0
   NN vs Greco, 1625 0-1
   NN vs Greco, 1620 0-1
   Greco vs NN, 1620 1-0
   Greco vs NN, 1620 1-0
   Greco vs NN, 1620 1-0
   Greco vs NN, 1620 1-0
   Greco vs NN, 1620 1-0
   Greco vs NN, 1620 1-0
   Greco vs NN, 1620 1-0

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   NN Needs Fredthe... Reinfeld, Chernev, Horowitz, by fredthebear
   y TJoker's KP Laughed at Fredthebear's Remarks by fredthebear
   1475-1820 Missouri Compromise & Compromise 1850 by fredthebear
   Яяoи caяa by CharlieLuciano
   Grecovian Piano Lessons for Fredthebear by fredthebear
   Il Greco by Runemaster
   Il Greco by Halit4
   riomanati's favorite games by riomanati

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(born 1600, died 1634, 34 years old) Italy

[what is this?]

Gioachino Greco, also known as Il Calabrese, was born around 1600 in Celico, Italy near Cosenza in Calabria. In 1619 in Rome, Greco started keeping a notebook of tactics and games, and he took up the custom of giving copies of his manuscripts to his wealthy patrons. These manuscripts offer the most definite facts about his life. There are four Roman manuscripts, two of uncertain date, but the other two clearly dated to February 1620. 1621 finds him in Nancy, France where he dedicated a manuscript to the Duke of Lorraine. He may have visited Paris in 1622, as most histories claim, but the evidence is thin. By 1623, he was in London, where his manuscripts begin to include longer games. In 1624-1625, Greco was in Paris, and his manuscripts from this visit show the continuing refinement of his game.(1)

Details concerning the rest of his life are speculative, relying almost entirely upon a brief account by Alessandro Salvio. According to Salvio, Greco ended up at the court of King Philipp IV in Spain, and from there followed a Spanish nobleman to the West Indies, where he died. As Salvio's text was published in 1634, that is given as the year of his death. Salvio also reports that he bequethed his fortune to the Jesuits. It is also possible that he was robbed to or from his visit to London, and restored his fortunes in Paris. There is speculation contrary to Salvio's claims, based on a 1734 description of a manuscript that is no longer extant, that Greco was back in London in 1632. If true, it gives credence to the long discredited assertion of William Lewis that he died at an advanced age.(2)

Greco published his analysis of the contemporary chess openings (Giuoco Piano, Bishop Opening, King's Gambit, etc.) in the form of short games in manuscripts 1620-1625, but several extant manuscripts are of uncertain date. In 1656, Francis Beale transcribed 94 of Greco's games into a text that was published by Henry Herringman in London.(3) Whatever manuscript was Beale's source no longer exists. A French edition of Greco’s games, based on still extant manuscripts, was published in 1669. This text formed the basis of the collections published by William Lewis (1819) and Louis Hoffmann (1900), which in turn formed the sources for today's databases. Both Lewis and Hoffmann offer many variations that are not yet collected in databases. Lewis found 146 variations, which he reduced to 47 games. Hoffmann expanded the number of games to 77, reducing the number of variations appended to each one. Greco's games are regarded as classics of early chess literature and are often taught to beginners.

(1)Wikipedia article: Gioachino Greco
(2)Peter J. Monté, The Classical Era of Modern Chess (McFarland 2014)
(3)Wikipedia article: Francis Beale (writer)

Last updated: 2020-06-23 15:41:30

 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 89  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. NN vs Greco 0-1181620Miscellaneous gameC37 King's Gambit Accepted
2. Greco vs NN 1-0181620Miscellaneous gameC54 Giuoco Piano
3. Greco vs NN 1-041620?C20 King's Pawn Game
4. Greco vs NN 1-0181620Miscellaneous gameC54 Giuoco Piano
5. Greco vs NN 1-0131620Miscellaneous gameC33 King's Gambit Accepted
6. Greco vs NN 1-0201620Miscellaneous gameC33 King's Gambit Accepted
7. Greco vs NN 1-0131620Miscellaneous gameC33 King's Gambit Accepted
8. Greco vs NN 1-0241620Miscellaneous gameC33 King's Gambit Accepted
9. Greco vs NN 1-0191620Miscellaneous gameC33 King's Gambit Accepted
10. Greco vs NN 1-0181620Miscellaneous gameC33 King's Gambit Accepted
11. Greco vs NN 1-0241620Miscellaneous gameC34 King's Gambit Accepted
12. Greco vs NN 1-0181620Miscellaneous gameC34 King's Gambit Accepted
13. Greco vs NN 1-0201620Miscellaneous gameC39 King's Gambit Accepted
14. Greco vs NN 1-0111620Miscellaneous gameC28 Vienna Game
15. Greco vs NN 1-0141620Miscellaneous gameC37 King's Gambit Accepted
16. Greco vs NN 1-0161620Miscellaneous gameC37 King's Gambit Accepted
17. Greco vs NN 1-0151620Miscellaneous gameC38 King's Gambit Accepted
18. Greco vs NN 1-0161620Miscellaneous gameC38 King's Gambit Accepted
19. Greco vs NN 1-0151620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
20. Greco vs NN 1-0231620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
21. Greco vs NN 1-0241620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
22. Greco vs NN 1-0151620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
23. Greco vs NN 1-0191620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
24. Greco vs NN 1-0221620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
25. NN vs Greco 0-181620Miscellaneous gameC20 King's Pawn Game
 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 89  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Greco wins | Greco loses  

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Post by User: just some NN

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20888)

<Well of course, once you've composed a game, it's just a matter of finding some NN who will fall into your trap. At which point it becomes 'real', I guess? So I've never entirely understood that debate. (But thanks everyone for your time!)>

Premium Chessgames Member

Post by User: jessicafischerqueen

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20890)


<Here's a post by User: Alpinemaster from May 3, 2015 which mentions the Sean J Manross book:

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #10603)

No bibliographical details are given in his announcement about "Mastering Chess: Through the Ages."

If we edit the <Greco> bio, I think it's important to involve <Annie K> in this conversation, because User: Alpinemaster is a editor, and we want to avoid an "editing war."

If we change the biography, I think the admins should send an email to <Alpinemaster> advising him what we plan to change. Possibly he would like to weigh in or supply additional information, which we can then evaluate further.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Ziryab: Sean J. Manross offers an intriguing thesis, but he should seek to publish it in a manner that allows others to examine both its claims and its sources. Posting a summary of his unpublished book in the biography of Greco here is not the appropriate way to give his ideas a fair hearing.

I, for one, would like to see some evidence that Polerio did not die as reported in 1610, but somehow was traveling incognito in France and England in his 70s, leaving behind a trail of manuscripts from which scholars such as J.A. Leon and H.J.R. Murray reconstructed elements of Greco's biography.

Premium Chessgames Member

Post by User: jessicafischerqueen

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20891)

<<Paint my Dragon> excellent.

Might you post a summary of the relevant information from the <Olsen> and <Purdy> sources? I have the other two books you mentioned. Be sure to include the bibliographical information in full, as well as page numbers. This will help us properly document what other historians are saying about <Greco's> games. Or "games.">

Premium Chessgames Member

Post by User: Paint My Dragon

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20892)

<Okay, from the Purdy book (Thinker's Press, 2006) p.67: <Greco's manuscripts purported to show his own games; but it is generally thought that the games were, in fact, modified (i.e. composed) to show brilliancies.>

From the Olson book (Trafford, 2006) p.20:

<Even though Greco is known to have played some of the best players in Rome, France and England, it is questionable whether any of the games he preserved are actual games. They appear to be mostly a collection of opening traps. The short and precise nature of the games and the lack of any known opponents lead me to speculate that they were analysis invented for his publication. The work may have initially derived from actual games but the precision and economy of these traps give the appearance of having been sanitized for publication. This seems reasonable since a large proportion of Greco's income appears to have come from the sale of his manuscript to wealthy patrons and chess opponents.>


Incidentally, Eales' <Chess: The History of a Game> also contains relevant material, but it is sprawled over a dozen or so pages and I haven't got the patience to sift through! If you have that book it may be worth a look.>

Premium Chessgames Member

Post by User: Paint My Dragon

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20893)

<If the Alpinemaster material is removed, then one option is to simply move it into Kibbitzing. An Alpinemaster will be familiar with skiing off-piste!>

Premium Chessgames Member

Post by User: jessicafischerqueen

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20895)

<Thank you <Paint My Dragon>!

I think it's a good idea to move at least the Manross book material to the kibbutzing. I will do some work on sourcing in the next few days and then try to improve the bio after that.>

Premium Chessgames Member

Post by User: Ziryab

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20898)

<I have been following up this claim, "the key primary source, Alessandro Salvio, remains ENTIRELY NOT AWARE that some chess phenom named 'Gioachino Greco' ever existed." Greco is mentioned on page 47 of Alessandro Salvio, Il Puttino, altramente detto: il Cavaliero errante del Salvio, sopra il gioco de scacchi con la sua Apologia contra il Carrera ... (1634).

(Unfortunately, I do not read Italian.)>

Premium Chessgames Member

Post by User: Ziryab

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20900)

<Nonetheless, Google Translate gives me the gist of the passage, which appears to be a source for assertions that Giacchino Greco (Salvio's spelling) went to the Indies and died there. William Lewis incorrectly asserts that Greco died at an old age in the East Indies, but most writers assert that he died as a young man in the West Indies. As Salvio's text was published in 1634, that is the date given for the end of Greco's life. I have read that claim elsewhere. Greco may have died some years earlier. Salvio also appears to be a source for the assertion that Greco bequeathed his money to the Jesuits (Padri Gesuiti is the name Salvio employs).>

Premium Chessgames Member

Post by administrator User: Annie K.

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20903)

<I sent an email to User: Alpinemaster asking him to visit and offer his input on Greco. Hope he gets the mail. :)>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Ziryab: J. A. Leon's assessment of Greco's games from a biographical article published in <British Chess Magazine> 15 (March 1895).

“Greco’s celebrated collection of games does not, as v. d. Lasa points out, form a text-book. It consists of a number of variations without any proper connection, and is entirely unaccompanied by notes. Very weak moves are found accompanying the most hazardous attacks, while the plain straight-forward game is frequently overlooked. Nevertheless, these games are highly instructive, and according to Ponziani’s correct judgement, are well calculated to stimulate new ideas in a young imagination. They are artistically arranged, and are, as it were, taken from life, containing as they do those very errors apt to be committed by weak, and occasionally even by the strongest players. They abound in numerous suitably selected traps and notwithstanding the absence of notes, contain many highly ingenious combinations.” (110-111)

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Gioachino Greco, also known as Il Calabrese, was possibly born..>

I'm insistent that he was definitely born.

Premium Chessgames Member

Post by User: Ziryab (edited)

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20925)

<I have my own writing (and database) projects in the works concerning Greco, which is what led me back here a few days ago.* I could help if I can guard against the errors Alpinemaster made (pushing his own work). I do hope that we hear from him. Although I find Manross's claims a little far-fetched, they intrigue me.

*I now have a database that contains all 94 of Greco's games as presented in Francis Beale's 1656 text. Nine of these are in ChessBase Mega 2020 (but Beale carries three of these further). I suspect that the selection here is quite close to what is in CB Mega, and am currently cataloging the differences.>

Premium Chessgames Member

Post by User: Lossmaster

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20941)

<<Ziryab> and anyone interested in Greco and, more generally, in the first 150 years of modern chess (roughly, 1490-1640) should get a copy of the late Peter J. Monté’s book "The Classical Era of Modern Chess" (McFarland, 2014). It’s an impressive 600-page work of scholarship and an indispendable reference book. There’s an entire chapter about Greco (pp. 318-354), his life, his manuscripts and their later printed editions, his sources (like Polerio), his games, openings, problems, etc., with references to the latest literature on the subject. In the biographical section you’ll find, among other things, the Italian text and English translation of Salvio’s book passage about Greco (p. 318). editors might especially be interested in part II of Monté’s book (pp. 439-530), where all known games and opening lines of that pioneering era are presented (not as individual gamescores, but as one huge tree of line variations, with translated annotations and source references, usually at the end of each branch of the tree). I’m well aware that many of the "games" were probably composed rather than played against a real opponent, and that many are short incomplete games, but in my mind, the very first documented instance of any opening variation should deserve to be in a chess game database, if only for its historical value, at least for those earliest and least documented centuries of the modern game.

I may be wrong, but the book doesn’t seem to be widely known around here. I used it once as a reference to debunk the spurious game Lucena vs Quintana, 1515 (see my 2017 comment under the game), but with little effect.

Publisher’s page:

Review by the Chess History & Literature Society:

Edward Winter’s Chess Note: C.N. 9716

Author’s page in CG: Peter Monte >

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: More posts from Bistro:

Jun-13-20 Ziryab: <lossmaster> Monte's book looks terrific. Unfortunate that no one has answered Edward Winter's query. The most extensive review of the book I find in a quick search is While I wait for a copy to arrive, perhaps you could fill in two details that I suspect he addresses in the book.

1) Do we have a source other than Salvio for the end of Greco's life by 1634 and his bequest to the Jesuits?

2) What source, if any, establishes the approximate year of his birth?


Jun-14-20 Lossmaster: <1) Do we have a source other than Salvio for the end of Greco's life by 1634 and his bequest to the Jesuits?> Here’s how Monté puts it: “Apart from the peculiarities from his manuscripts (see below), some data of his short lifetime are exclusively derived from Salvio’s report in 1634, written shortly after Greco’s alleged death.”

This is the last part of Monté’s translation of Salvio’s report: “Thereupon the said Giacchino departed, accompanying a great lord to the Indies, where he died. He left all his belongings to the Jesuit Fathers as I was told by the great doctor Mr. Paulo Emilio Ferrero, the Neapolitan, who was then the physician to the Queen of France and later the Queen of Spain. Nowadays he is Protomedico in Naples on behalf of His Majesty, Philip IV.”

Monté goes on: “In view of Salvio’s suspicous records on López, Leonardo and Boi, as described in previous chapters, his report on Greco needs to be compared to other sources in a close analysis, involving chess literature as well.”

Concerning the specific matter of his death, Monté further says: “Greco’s death is pushed out to an advanced age by Lewis. In ‘Le Palamède’ it is added that he was a Jesuit when dying old in the East Indies. More recent literature dates his Madrid encounter to 1625(-1627) and Greco’s early death to 1630-1634, having joined a (Spanish) nobleman going to the West Indies. According to Chicco (1983), Greco’s still being alive ca. 1640, as given in the catalogue of the Cleveland Public Library, seems erroneous; however, in view of Beyer’s information it should not be excluded.” Monté here refers to a still unidentified Greco manuscript which, according to August Beyer (in a 1734 book), mentions that Greco was living in London in 1632.

Elsewhere, Monté adds: “Whereas Salvio’s account can be doubted, two questionable major events, Greco’s sojourn in Paris in 1622 and his death in the Indies before 1634, might be attested to or refuted by a closer examination of the biographies of his French opponents and by a fortunate discovery of hitherto unknown manuscripts (particularly Beyer’s MS and the source for the printed French edition of 1669).”

<2) What source, if any, establishes the approximate year of his birth?>

Monté says “probably in or shortly before 1600” with no source given. Maybe it’s based on the fact that, in Salvio’s report, Greco is said to be a youngster (“giovane”) during events of his life occurring in the 1620’s. As Monté puts it: “Actually, all approximately dated facts of Greco’s life are exclusively provided by his manuscripts: In 1619-1620 he was in Rome, in 1621 in Nancy, in 1623 in England and in 1624-1625 in France.”

His birthplace is better established. Plate 84 of the book is the title page of the “Libretto manuscript” (ca. 1620), with the mention, probably written in Greco’s own hand: “giochino greco / calabrese di la tera di celico”. Celico is a little town about 10 km from Cosenza, in Calabria. Cosenza is also mentioned in another of his manuscripts.

Sep-19-20  Marcelo Bruno: Theodor von Scheve, in his essay "Der Geist des Schachspiels" (1919), speculates that Greco probably died in Brazil.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: batgirl's biography of Gioachino Greco, reposted from game kibitz to this biography page:

Jul-27-04 SBC: Well....
here's a brief bio I [batgirl] wrote on Greco for another site:

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. From his writing it's apparent the he wasn't educated and likely came from a lower class family. Already in 1619, Greco started keeping a notebook of tactics and particulary clever games and he took up the custom of giving copies of his manuscripts to his wealthy patrons. In Rome Monsignor Corsino della casa Minutoli Tegrini, Cardinal Savelli and Monsignor Francisco Buoncompagni all received copies (of which there are extant copies, dated 1620 in the Corsiniana library in Rome, under the title, "Trattato del nobilissimo gioco de scacchi").

Despite his popualarity in Rome, in 1621 Greco took off to test himself against the rest of Europe leaving this paper trail as he went. In 1621 he left a fine copy of his manuscripts with Duke Enrico of Lorraine in Nancy. He traveled to Paris where he played Arnauld(Isaac) de Corbeville, Enrico di Savoia (the Marquis of St. Sorlin and the Duke of Nemours and Geneva) and others. He had apparently been quite successful because in 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 (as was the custom of the times), for study and inclusion in his manuscripts. He returned to Paris in 1624 where he rewrote his manuscipt collection to perfect 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.

Gioachino Greco stood head and shoulders above his comtemporaries, a feat seldom duplicated. David Hooper, in The Oxford Companion to Chess, states that Greco probably made up the games in his manuscripts. The question of whether he actually played the games or invented them is rather moot since, if he invented them, he was perfectly capable of playing them.

" of the most important productions in the history of chess." written by Harold James Ruthven Murray in his book, A History of Chess, referring to the 1656 publication by Francis Beale of Greco's work under the title, "The royall Game of Chesse-play."


Premium Chessgames Member
  Korora: Come on. No player has ever been 100% undefeated. Even reigning World Champions still make the occasional howler.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: Studying Greco, I wonder who taught him?
Dec-09-20  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi Joshka,

Apparently no one. It appears he sat down and made up these games inventing all the combo's and tactics that are now stock in trade to every player.

This site and everywhere else uses his name v N.N. but Greco himself did not claim they came from his own games, he tagged them as White v Black.

They are works of analysis to aid players and show what the chess pieces could do.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: <Sally Simpson> But he had to start from a frame of reference? Unless he made up the game of chess all by himself, and we know he did not. Oh well they are instructive games for sure.
Dec-10-20  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi Joska,

I think he did make up a majority of the games by himself. Was he not selling them off a few games at a time. A partner would have split the profits.

There was very little before him with the 'new' 1490 rules. (Pawns can move two squares. Increased powers to the Bishop and the Queen is a 'new' Bishop and Rook combined.)

History adds 1620 to these games but that it is just a rough guess.

He knocked them together in between 1620 and approx 1635, possibly from ideas in his own games - unplayed combo's he spotted.

It's possible he used them as instructive demo's for his students.


Dec-20-20  DarthStapler: More Gioachino Greco facts!

- Capablanca wrote "My Chess Career". Greco wrote "How I ended this man's whole career'. Capablanca then retired.

- Greco sometimes gives his opponents infinite takebacks in a single game. It inevitably ends when they decide to take back the choice to play against him in the first place.

- Greco considers Fischerrandom chess to be boring since he knows all of the opening theory for all of the starting positions

- Beth Harmon calculates variations on the ceiling. Greco calculates them on the roof.

- Washington Square park in NYC used to be a popular spot for outdoor chess. The reason it's not anymore isn't because of COVID-19, but because Greco showed up and beat everyone blindfolded with queen odds, and they were too depressed to return.

- The Giuoco Piano is actually so named because when its inventor played it against Greco, he lost, Greco called the opening a joke, and his opponent quit chess to take up the piano.

- A knight in the corner controls only 2 squares. A knight in the center controls 8 squares. A knight used by Greco controls all 64 squares, and then some.

Dec-20-20  DarthStapler: And even more Gioachino Greco facts!

- Greco is reported to have learned chess 'accidentally'. What they don't tell you is that he also invented it accidentally.

- Every chess master was once a beginner - except for Greco

- They say there are 10^120 possible games of chess. Greco has played them all and more.

- The Greco Attack doesn't actually count as the Greco Attack unless white wins with it.

- Greco was once banned from online chess because the cheat detection algorithms rated his moves as too good. He then played against the algorithms themselves, won, and overturned the ban.

- Chess teachers often teach beginners how to mate with a queen and king vs. a king. Greco has taught people how to mate with a king vs. a king and queen.

- Greco has also played many chess variants. In Atomic, he once blew up the whole board, and the player at the other end of it. In Horde, he can start with just one pawn and still win. In Three-Check, he can win in only 2 checks. In Bughouse, he can win using only one board and no partner. The only one he's no good at is Anti-Chess.

- Greco once beat Von Bardeleben. It's reported that, at the end of the game, instead of just getting up and leaving, the latter simply faded out of existence. He was never heard from again.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: If he played Giuoco would it be a <Greco Roman wrestling> match?
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