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Pedro Damião

Pedro Damião

Aug 2, 2014, 1:01 PM 0

Pedro Damiano (in Portuguese, Pedro Damião; Damiano is the Italian form, much like the Latin Damianus) was a Portuguese apothecary (pharmacist) who lived from 1470 to 1544. A native of Odemira, he was generally considered the world's strongest chess player in the early 1500's. 

He wrote Questo libro e da imparare giocare a scachi et de li partiti, published in Rome, Italy, in 1512. Written in Italian and Spanish, It was the first bestseller of the modern game of chess, and went through eight editions in the sixteenth century.

In ten chapters and 124 pages, Damiano describes the rules of the game, offers advice on strategy, presents a selection of 72 chess problems, analyzes a few openings and introduced the smothered mate.

It is the oldest book that definitely states that the square on the right of the row closest to each player must be white. He also offers advice regarding blindfold chess principally focused on the need to master notation based on numbering the squares 1-64.

In this book Damiano suggested chess was invented by Xerxes which would be the reason why it was known in Portuguese as Xadrez and in Spanish as Ajedrez. In fact, these words come from Sanskrit caturaṅga via Arabic šaṭranj.

I could not find any decent games by Damiano; but come back next time and see a notable game in which Bobby Fischer faces R.F. McGregor who scores a draw using Damiano's defence. (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6)

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