15 November 2012

Tracking Down Greco's Games

Footnote to Lesson of the Week

In the "Lesson of the Week" posted for this week, reference was made to a line attributed to Gioachino Greco. A search of the ChessBase database fails to turn up this game. The absence of documentation in Garry Kasparov's My Great Predecessors renders my source text useless for tracking its sources.* Fortunately, a well-known English edition of Greco's games is readily available through Google Books, which digitized a copy that is held in the Harvard University Library: Professor Hoffmann, trans. and ed., The Games of Greco (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1900).**

Skimming through Hoffmann's book, I was able to locate a diagram bearing resemblance in several particulars to the position on the board in the variation given by Garry Kasparov in his notes to Paul Morphy's opera game. The checkmate motif in the line given by Kasparov is present in Greco's game, but the moves differ. Hoffmann presents Game 18 with one variation (54-55). The main game is in the ChessBase database, but the checkmate is in the variation and not available in that five million game reference.

Here, I present the game complete as found in Hoffmann with additional notes that I have added. The game also is present in William Lewis, Gioachino Greco on the Game of Chess (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1819) as the third variation of game nine (35). This text is digitized by Google from the Frank J. Marshall Collection at the New York Public Library.

Gioachino Greco

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4

Morphy's game at the Paris Opera continued with 3.d4.

3...Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 Qf6

Lewis and Hoffmann both comment that Qd7 is better.

6.Qb3 b6 7.Nc3

Black to move

ChessBase has Greco's game continuing 7...c6 8.Nd5 Qd8 9.Nxb6 Qxb6 10.Bxf7+ Kd7 11.Bxg8 d5 12.exd5 Qxb3 13.dxc6+ Nxc6 14.Bxb3 1-0. Greco presented each variation as a separate game. Later editors of his work arranged the games by opening and treated similar games as variations. There is very little reason to believe that any of his games were from actual play, but that all were created for instructive purposes. Whether ChessBase should include any is as important as questioning why some are excluded.

7...Ne7 8.Nb5 Na6 9.Qa4 Nc5

White to move

10.Nxd6+ Kd8 11.Qe8#

This game is a worthy addition to the database, and merits memorization for those inclined to the study of miniatures.

*The first three volumes of My Great Predecessors contain no footnotes, bibliography, nor any other references to source material beyond the abbreviated attributions in the text itself. Volumes IV and V each contain a two page bibliography listing Russian sources and non-Russian sources. No text of Greco's games appears in either list.

**Professor Hoffmann was a pseudonym used by Angelo Lewis who wrote books on a variety of topics, including magic. See Edward Winter's Chess Notes 5620 and 5716.

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