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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: 80
Years covered: 1620 to 1625

Overall record: +79 -0 =0 (100.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 1 exhibition game, blitz/rapid, odds game, etc. is excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 King's Gambit Accepted (19) 
    C33 C34 C37 C38 C39
 Giuoco Piano (13) 
    C53 C54
 Bishop's Opening (6) 
 King's Pawn Game (5) 
 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, 1620 0-1
   Greco vs NN, 1620 1-0
   NN vs Greco, 1625 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

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   NN Needs Fredthe... Reinfeld, Chernev, Horowitz, by fredthebear
   TJoker's KP Laughed at Fredthebear's Remarks by fredthebear
   Яяoи caяa by CharlieLuciano
   1475-1850 Missouri Compromise by fredthebear
   Il Greco by Halit4
   Il Greco by Runemaster
   riomanati's favorite games by riomanati
   Grecovian Piano by fredthebear
   melhor de Greco by toso51

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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 80  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Greco vs NN 1-0171620Miscellaneous GameC54 Giuoco Piano
2. Greco vs NN 1-071620Miscellaneous GameC53 Giuoco Piano
3. Greco vs NN 1-071620Miscellaneous GameC40 King's Knight Opening
4. Greco vs NN 1-0191620Miscellaneous GameC23 Bishop's Opening
5. Greco vs NN 1-0131620Miscellaneous GameC33 King's Gambit Accepted
6. Greco vs NN 1-0101620UnknownC34 King's Gambit Accepted
7. Greco vs NN 1-0141620Miscellaneous GameC53 Giuoco Piano
8. Greco vs NN 1-0181620Miscellaneous GameC02 French, Advance
9. Greco vs NN 1-0161620Miscellaneous GameC38 King's Gambit Accepted
10. NN vs Greco 0-1121620Miscellaneous GameC40 King's Knight Opening
11. Greco vs NN 1-0121620UnknownC30 King's Gambit Declined
12. Greco vs NN 1-0151620Miscellaneous GameC42 Petrov Defense
13. NN vs Greco 0-1361620Miscellaneous GameB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
14. Greco vs NN 1-0201620Miscellaneous GameC39 King's Gambit Accepted
15. Greco vs NN 1-0321620Miscellaneous GameD06 Queen's Gambit Declined
16. Greco vs NN 1-0141620Miscellaneous GameC54 Giuoco Piano
17. Greco vs NN 1-0171620Miscellaneous GameC57 Two Knights
18. Greco vs NN 1-0221620Miscellaneous GameC23 Bishop's Opening
19. Greco vs NN 1-0241620Miscellaneous GameC33 King's Gambit Accepted
20. Greco vs NN 1-0181620EuropeC34 King's Gambit Accepted
21. NN vs Greco 0-181620UnknownC37 King's Gambit Accepted
22. Greco vs NN 1-0201620Miscellaneous GameC53 Giuoco Piano
23. Greco vs NN 1-0121620Miscellaneous GameC01 French, Exchange
24. Greco vs NN 1-0151620Miscellaneous GameC23 Bishop's Opening
25. NN vs Greco 0-1101620Miscellaneous GameC40 King's Knight Opening
 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 80  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Greco wins | Greco loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 12 OF 13 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-30-17  Christoforus Polacco: My opinion is - almost every Greco's brilliancy can be compilation of a few similar games played before against his not too strong oponents who were defeated by phenomenal Calabrese at real games. For example ten years ago my friend made such typical error like NN : 1.e4 e5 2.f4 ef 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 f6 ??? 5.N:g5 and black's position is lost. The same mistakes are cloned by centuries :)
Jun-30-17  Christoforus Polacco: ANNEX. But one real game (or 'compiled' game) can be a source of a few another compositions. For example the real is my game above and black's real answer was : 5.... fg and next white's 6.Qh5+ with fast mate in a few moves. In such situation Greco usual analysed another sensible possibilities : 5....Nh6 6.Qh5+ Ke7 7.Nf7 Qe8 8.Qc5+ d6 9.Q:c7 etc. That analysis could emerge sooner or later at real Greco's game or ... never :) But I suppose Greco played a lot and also had a lot of occasions to test his theory in practice. I think that is the secret of Greco's method and his games agaist NN. We can say - NN is Greco's 'collective opponent' from quite veritable contests.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Joshka> you seem to be the only person on this site who <always> gets this wrong: <...these are all arranged, faked, ect.>

If you mean ect to be "et cetera" then the abbreviation is etc.

If you are referring to electro-convulsive therapy then you have been right all along and I apologise.

Dec-17-17  DarthStapler: Gioachino Greco facts:

- Deep Mind AlphaZero self-destructed when it heard it had to play against Greco

- Greco can mate with a king and two knights vs a king

- Greco can win against a tablebase from a losing position

- Greco once played a blindfold simul against Morphy, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tal, Fischer, Kasparov, and Carlsen, playing with just his king and one pawn against each. He won each game in under 10 moves.

- Greco can perform a triple check

- Greco can play 1. f3 and 2. g4 and still go on to win

- Greco is actually still alive. Death stopped coming for him because he was tired of being wiped off the board like a rank amateur.

Dec-18-17  DarthStapler: More Gioachino Greco facts:

- Some chess players can play blindfolded. Greco can play blindfolded bound and gagged in a straightjacket hanging upside down in a tank of water with 200 kg weights tied to each of his legs, and still escape before Harry Houdini can.

- Steinitz claimed he could give God pawn and moves odds and win. When asked about Greco, though, he fell silent.

- Greco has completed the Knight's Tour on an infinite chessboard. Thrice.

- Greco has never bothered to win the world championship for the same reason that Magnus Carlsen never bothered to win the championship of your local elementary school - too small scale and not worth his time.

- Greco was already at Grandmaster level when he was an embryo

- The first game of chess Greco played was against the doctor who delivered him, seconds after it happened. He won in 4 moves.

- Greco has only been checkmated once. He went on to win the game anyway.

- Greco was unanimously coronated as the God of Chess. As a romantic gesture, he decided to give the title to his then-girlfriend Caissa instead. Today, he still refuses to return her calls, telling her to 'git gud' first.

- Greco can win a game in -1 moves

- Greco can calculate combinations so many moves ahead that the board loops back to its starting position.

- Greco sometimes gives time odds: his opponents have as much time as they want, while he starts with 0 seconds on his clock, with no delay or increment. He always wins anyway.

- Greco is banned from chess puzzle solving competitions since, in the first one he entered, he ended up solving the entire game

- The only one ever to draw Greco was the guy who did the sketch of him in the upper right of this page.

Dec-23-17  DarthStapler: Yet more Gioachino Greco facts:

- The developers of the successful 'Play Magnus' app planned to follow it up with the release of a 'Play Greco' app. However it didn't make it past the focus groups when they discovered that all it consisted of was a single screen reading 'you lose'.

- A major scandal rocked the computer chess world championship recently when one of the engines was accused of consulting Greco for moves

- The usernotes of the old ICC user 'Smile' were actually accurate. What he doesn't tell you, though, is that he was Greco's student, and his teacher considered him a disappointment.

- Greco once played an illegal move. It then became legal.

- Mr. Spock once played a game of three-dimensional chess with Greco. When it was over, the Vulcan decided to take up 1-dimensional chess instead.

- Scientists once tried to program a computer based on Greco's brain. The result is what we commonly refer to as 'God'. Greco still gives it queen odds and wins.

- Greco can win games by sacrificing his king

Premium Chessgames Member
  PhilFeeley: Hey <Darth>. These belong on the Odd Lie page.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Boy, those Nuns could play a mean game of chess...
Dec-28-17  DarthStapler: And even more Gioachino Greco facts:

- No one ever won a game of chess by resigning. Except for Greco.

- Alekhine once tried to use Alekhine's Gun in a game against Greco. He countered with Greco's Thermonuclear ICBM.

- Greco once published a chess puzzle with a 1500+ move solution that involved white sacrificing all of his pieces, promoting all of his pawns and sacrificing them, and then promoting his last pawn to a knight to deliver a smothered mate to black's king in the middle of the board. When people complained that the puzzle was too complex and could never have been solved in a human lifetime, Greco revealed that he just took it move for move from an ultrabullet game he played the previous night while he was half asleep.

- Greco, like Fischer, once won a tournament with a score of 11-0. The difference is that the tournament Greco played in only had 10 rounds.

- Greco receives a brilliancy prize every time he takes a breath

- NN used to be a famous and world-renowned player until Greco beat him so badly that he erased his name and identity out of shame.

- Greco's opponents kept inventing new types of odds to try to give them a chance against him. Once they got to King and 62 Queens vs. King and still couldn't win, they finally stopped.

Jan-11-18  Christoforus Polacco: <Darth Stapler> You are mistaken Greco with Chuck Norris ;)
Jan-11-18  todicav23: <Darth Stapler> Very good job! We need more facts about Greco.
Jan-26-18  Kaspablanca: <Christoforus Polacco> Chuck Norris and Mcgyver.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <Sally Simpson: It must have been mentioned before but recently I've been reading how poor Greco's opponent were.>

Yes, only two of them even owned a pair of shoes.

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: 'Tis a shame that Gioachino Greco never played Roman Dzindzichashvili

We would have a ready-made pun - Greco - Roman Wrestling!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi Joshka,

"...who did Greco learn the game from?"

This link:

Takes you to an 1819 translation of Greco's Games by William Lewis.

Lewis says on page vii that Greco "...accidently learned the game of Chess."

How does one accidently learn the game of chess?

Start moving the P's,R's, B's, Q's and K's from a Scabble set on a checkered table cloth?

There are not enough P's you only get two P's per Scrabble Set.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Have decided to do a proper and correct 'History of Chess.' because most of which has gone on before has been over elaborated and is quite frankly wrong.

It' all started in 1485, Greco picked up the ball roundabout 1620 and we have been running with it ever since.


Apr-15-19  DarthStapler: Some people claim that Greco's 100% win rate in the database is misleading, as we don't have all of his games. They're right - if we did have all of his games on file, his winning percentage would be even higher.
Apr-15-19  DarthStapler: An attempt was once made to calculate Greco's ELO rating. It failed, but they did discover the largest known prime number in the process.
Apr-15-19  DarthStapler: Chess is a sea in which a gnat may drink and an elephant may bathe. To Greco, though, it's more of a water droplet.
Apr-15-19  DarthStapler: Modern grandmasters try to memorize opening lines from the top chess engines. The top chess engines try to memorize opening lines from Greco.
Jul-26-19  Chesgambit: Overall 100%
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marcelo Bruno: Von Scheve, in his book "Das Geist des Schach-Spielers" informs that Greco died probably in Brazil.
Mar-10-20  sorrowstealer: The Greco Defence (or McConnell Defense), named after Gioachino Greco (c. 1600 – c. 1634), is a chess opening beginning with the moves:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Qf6
Cant find a game here though.

Premium Chessgames Member

Post from User: Ziryab

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #20896)

<There is no reason why this biography should be based on any sources other than the synopsis given by H.J.R. Murray in A History of Chess and J. A. Leon in The Games of Greco (by Louis Hoffmann, 1900). These remain the standard sources. The opening paragraph introduces "supposedly", "is claimed", and "Legend holds" to sow the seeds of doubt. I would favor eliminating efforts to poison the well in advance of the outlandish claims attributed to Sean J. Manross.

"Greco would have published" is inaccurate. However, "recorded" would be accurate. Greco's writings are entirely in the form of manuscripts created for patrons. More than 25 are extant (see J.G. White, Greco and His Manuscripts, 1919) Published books exist by others that are based on a MS now lost, for instance Beale (1656). The statement, "the manuscripts were published by Francis Beale" is inaccurate on several counts. Beale based his text on a single MS according to Murray, so manuscripts should not be plural. Henry Herringman was the publisher; Beale the writer. Beale's 94 games are not representative of what can be found on or elsewhere. I have all of Beale's games in a database, and on Sunday compared them to the 82 available in ChessBase Mega 2020. Nine of Beale's are in the db, and Beale extends three of these further than in the CB db. It was this project that brought me back to this page, as it has many times in the past. I was intrigued and horrified when I saw the claims attributed to Manross and went looking for the "book". It does not appear to exist.

A MS from 1624-1625, likely Greco's own most extensive revision of his games, was compiled in Paris. This MS was the basis for a book published there in 1669. The 1669 French edition of Greco games served as the source for most later texts. In particular the English texts of William Lewis (1819, rpt. 1833) and Louis Hoffmann--a psedonym for Angelo Lewis (1900). Hoffmann's text, in particular, is the source for the database here and elsewhere. It was also the source for the collection of 77 Greco games presented in David Levy and Kevin O'Connell, Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess Games, vol 1 1485-1866 (1981). Levy and O'Connell include annotations, which incorporate some of the vast material found in Beale and Lewis, but still unavailable in databases.

The phrase "academic speculation" is not usually used for unpublished claims by non-credentialed writers unless they have a record of publication.

I fully endorse moving all of Manross's speculation to the kibitzing. For now, I will refrain from addressing it in detail, but suffice it to say the problems with his ideas are many and extensive. Calabria is in Italy, not Greece. The Ottoman Turks were long gone from Italy by 1600, aside from occasional raids. The assertion about Salvio's curriculum is interesting, but does not belong in a Greco biography. The phrase "created only for masters" in reference to Lucena, Damiano, and Lopez is odd in the light of Murray's assertion, "By 1560 Damiano's book can have been of little use to any one but a mere beginner at chess" (Murray 1913, 811).>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Ziryab: <Marcelo Bruno> Thanks for the comment. I'll put Das Geist des Schach-Spielers on my list of books to examine. It stands to reason that he would die in Brasil if he had traveled with a Portuguese nobleman, as that's the primary destination of Portuguese going to the Indies (still a fairly broad term in the 1630s). Alessandro Salvio tells us that he accompanied a Portuguese nobleman to the Indies and died there.

"...he went with a great Signor to the Indie where he died, and left everything to Jesuit Fathers" (from Google Translate of Salvio, Il Puttino... 1634).

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