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Gioachino Greco vs NN
Miscellaneous game (1620), ?, rd 19
Philidor Defense: General (C41)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jun-14-04  zb2cr: <Catfriend>, Many of these G. Greco games look composed, as if they were fake games used to illustrate opening traps. This impression is compounded by the vast number of miniatures.

Plus, even Morphy lost or drew SOME! The DB has absolutely no losses by G. Greco out of 76 recorded games.

No matter how advanced G. Greco might have been in his knowledge over the opponents he faced, no matter how good or lucky he was, if all of the games were real he should have lost or drawn at least one.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: It may have happened, or it may have been composed. According to Richard Eales, in "Chess, the History of a Game", "Greco made tours of France and England in the 1620's." So he did play actual games against NN's. The game scores, however, come down to us only by way of his manuscripts which were meant to illustrate the latest opening theory.
Jun-14-04  acirce: <No matter how advanced G. Greco might have been in his knowledge over the opponents he faced, no matter how good or lucky he was, if all of the games were real he should have lost or drawn at least one.> That doesn't mean that those games would have been published and so known to the afterworld.
Jun-14-04  zb2cr: <acirce>, Your comment implies that no-one other than Greco would have preserved the game scores or published them. Consider:

1. Greco would have mostly played aristocrats or clerics; peasants wouldn't have had the opportunity to learn chess.

2. Greco was considered the best player in Europe. Anyone who had in fact beaten him would have wanted to brag about it.

3. An aristocrat, or a churchman, would have had the means and the desire to publish the score of a game wherein he beat Greco.

4. Therefore, if Greco played a lot of real games, he should have lost/drawn a few; and so the odds of at least one Greco loss being published would go up.

Taken together, the above items make a good plausibility argument that while Greco did play some real games, he may not have played a lot of them.

I realize that the above is a plausibility argument rather than an absolute proof, but I think it's a good case.

Jun-14-04  acirce: <zb2cr> Sure. Personally I know to little about Greco to really have a clue.
Jul-27-04  PawnBlock: For this discussion on must also consider the state of chess at the time.

Now-a-days anyone can go pickup a book from the local library and be competant enough to beat master if he is tired, distracted, makes 10 mistakes, etc. Back then that was not the case.

Consider: I'm a 1750 player, if I played 100 players who have never actually studied the game- I'd beat 90 of them. Put any level of master in my place and he'll beat all 100 of them. So for Greco (master) to play and win 100% when all his competition is basically clueless (except for what meager skills they've gained playing their buddies), is not such a stretch.

Even if you figure in tiredness, etc. If the master were careful to control the circumstances under which he played those outside factors would be diminished to the point where they'd not factor in.

Jul-27-04  SBC: Well....

here's a brief bio I 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."


Aug-31-04  PAWNTOEFOUR: i see the argument still i've stated before Greco was king of the hill at his time,a pure hustler! and SBC thanks for the info........i say,let the argument die and just enjoy the legacy that Greco left for us.
Sep-13-04  Knight13: 4. c3
White saw the black knight would take the pawn on e4 so white sees the Qa4+ fork.
Oct-12-04  InspiredByMorphy: This must be one of Greco's earlier games. In his other three games playing against the Philidor he played 3.Bc4
Nov-26-05  Chopin: < Pawntoefour><..I say,let the argument die and just enjoy the legacy that Greco left for us.> I totally agree. I guess we'll never know for sure whether Greco's games were fabricated or not. Let's just enjoy his games and learn from them.

Dec-25-05  DeepBlade: 4.c3 is a very silent move, and NN is naive enough to think the e4 pawn is unprotected. I always get scared if someone attacks my center pawns but, as this game demonstrates, ''tactical defence (fork)'' is an good option.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: On whether a game with such an "obvious" blunder could be authentic:

This game reminds me of my shortest ever postal game, which was played in a 1984 Golden Knights semi-finals. (To reach the semi-finals, you needed to score at least 5-1 or better in a prelimary round, so the semi-finalists weren't slouches.) The game went: 1. e4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. e5 Nd7 4. d4 c5 5. Nxd5 cxd4 6. Nf3?? Qa5+ and White resigned.

So there you go... if you think only a rank beginner would ever miss a skewer check like this, here it happens in a postal game between two supposedly decent players. There is one other interesting part to this story: my opponent was Paul Boymel, who was a five-time Jeopardy champion. Last year, I saw Boymel in that Jeopardy Ultimate Tournament of Champions, with a $2,000,000 top prize. I guess he was a lot better at Jeopardy than chess.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: When I was 12 years old and about 1200 or 1300 I had been having some success against the English, playing in imitation of the Modern Variation of the Scandinavian Defense, thus: 1.c4 d5?! 2.cxd5 Nf6. Then one day a fellow by the name of David Kong played 3.e4 against me, and I thought "O.K., he's choosing to give up the e-pawn instead of the d-pawn - fine, I'll take it!" Thus 3...♘xe4?? 4.♕a4+!

I haven't played this opening since.

May-12-06  MagnaPsygnosis: I cant believe Greco gets credit for beating players like this....
May-21-06  Microbe: He doesn't Magna...He get's credit for showing us great chess curiosities like this opening trap. He has laid the foundations of many themes in chess. For example, the first Smothered mate!

Greco seems to have a great ability to make people smile fondly at their poor chess...rather than their good chess...

Jun-09-06  MagnaPsygnosis: <microbe>
....hmmm... you have a point....nice
Jan-29-07  LaSmitedCrab: hahahahahahahah foolish cannot beat Greco!
I know ONE of these NNs are Kasparov...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: A variant that has worked for me is 1.e4 d6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c3?! It's mainly a blitz trick, though: I've tried it in 11 rated games, and only two B-players tried 3...Nxe4.

And it's not even a sure thing when it works. I once showed it to a 1900-player who used it against a 2100-player in his next game. He won the piece OK, but went on to lose the game.

Dec-28-08  YoungEd: Let us not forget the cunning guile behind the waiting move, 3. h3! :)
Feb-24-09  just a kid: I've played this game as Black when I was a beginner.
Apr-11-09  WhiteRook48: 3. h3! 4. c3!! 5. Qa4+!!!
Oct-27-09  midochessmachine: lol funny mini game!!
May-27-10  Polerio: It's not to be taken seriously, but in 2009 I played the following game on internet having the white pieces: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 Nf6 4.Be2 Nxe4 5.Qa4+ and 6Qxe4 Black resigns. My opponent had a rating of 1595, so don't blame Greco's opponents.
Oct-11-13  billyhan: <All>chess games/problems/puzzles were, are, and will be <composed>, by either a "sole" artist (i.e. <Greco>, <Lloyd>, etc.), a "duo" (i.e. <Castellvi vs Vinyoles>, <Lucena vs Quintana>, etc.), or a "team" (i.e. <Lionne/Morant vs Auzout/Maubisson>, etc.). Of course, since the 17th century, the opening moves of most games simply "mimic" prior "compositions", somewhat analogous to the realm of <musical composition>. So, as I see it, "Yes, Greco's games were <composed>, as were (and are) all other chess games. I just <enjoy> them.
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