The Italian Anderssen


     After the defeat of Ruy Lopez at the hands of Leonardo da Cutri in 1575, the Italians dominated Chess. But after the Modenese chess players of the mid 18th century - Lolli, del Rio and Ponziani - there were regrettably very few notable Italian players all the way through the following century. Part of the reason was the Italians' hesitation to accept the more generally accepted modern rules of play shunning  en passant while embracing free castling.
In free castling, the King and Rook switch sides, just as
                 in regular castling, except the King may land on  any
                 square in between including the Rook's square - and 
                 the Rook may land on any square including the King's.

    Playing, studying and practicing under different rules made even the best Italian players reluctant to test themselves against mainstream players in their own waters. Two exceptions were, perhaps, Serafino Dubois and Ignazio Calvi.

     A few years ago I stumbled across a superlative Italian player from the mid-19th century who was probably second in Italy only to Dubois during his time.

     All this information is but a tiny summation of a much more detailed article by Alessandro Nizzola called The Discart-Bonetti Chess Match,1863.

     Francesco Discart-Galli was born in Modena in 1819 where he worked as "the secretary of the late Duke of Modena."  Apparently, Discart, like Adolph Anderssen, lived for chess and eventually moved to the more chess-friendly Vienna where he died from a heart condition in 1893.
     Although he was invited to the 1862 London tournament by John Löwenthal, he declined. He was also invited to play in Paris, 1867 and in Baden, 1870, both of which he declined.  It's speculated that because of his adherence to the old rules, he may have felt at too serious a disadvantage to participate in tournaments using the latest rules, but it's also speculated that he was prohibited from traveling during that time due to his father's illness.  However, just having being invited to participate in such tournaments is an indication of Discart's strength.

     Discart had beaten many Italian players in matches, drew against Jules Arnous de Rivière in 1863, convincingly beat his arch-rival, Cornelius Bonetti in 1865 but lost a series of off-hand games with Dubois in 1867.

     Discart was also a notable chess problemist and journalist who edited chess columns in the Illustrazione Universale (of Milan) from 1864 to 1868, and in the Settimana Illustrata (of Milan) from 1866 to 1868. He also wrote, though never published the treatise, composed a splendid treatise,  Trattato Sopra il Giuoco degli Scacchi del Cavaliere Francesco Discart di Modena.


 Below are two casual Evans Gambits Discart played against Bonetti.







                 According to Nizzola, "the Italian chess player and promoter
                 Count Francesco Ansidei once styled him in a letter,
                                'the Italian Adolph Anderssen'."