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del Rio, Lolli and Ponziani


For almost 100 years, books based on Greco's (Greco was nicknamed Il Calabrese) manuscripts - these books, the first one printed in 1656, were called Calabrians - were the prime printed chess influence. Very little else of great significance or influence was printed until Philidor's L'Analyze des Echecs in 1749.

However, there were some noteworthy exceptions.

The first was Philip Stamma's book, Essai sur le Jeu des Echecs, published in Paris in 1737 and reprinted in Hague 1741. Stamma was a native of Aleppo, Syria. His pitch was that chess spread into Europe from the Arab world, but that the Arabs possessed secrets they had never passed on to the Europeans. Of course, only he knew the secrets - which he might reveal, little at a time, if properly compensated. The fact was that the "eastern method of playing", as he referred to it, was stunted in comparison to Europe. But Stamma wrangled a government job (Interpreter of Foreign Languages to the British Government), moved to England and played chess at Slaughter's Coffeehouse (est. 1692) in London. The members there encouraged him to reprint his book again. He greatly expanded it and reprinted it in London 1745. Unfortunately for Stamma, in 1747 he agreed to a match at Slaughter's against a relatively unknown player named François-André Danican Philidor who was so foolish he agreed to let all drawn games count as wins for Stamma. Philidor won 8 - 2 (one of the losses was a draw). In one match, Stamma's chess career was over and Philidor's was begun.

Philip Stamma, who at least was ahead of his time by using algebraic notation, died around 1755.

Carlo Francesco Cozio (born around 1715 - died around 1780) was the Italian Count of Montiglio and Count of Salabue. He wrote Il Giuoco degli Scacchi around 1740. The book was in 2 volumes. The first volume contained more openings and variation than any book prior -228 openings with 200 variations - many of which had never been seen in print before. The second volume covered the various and different chess rules used in Calabria at the time as well as endgame and middlegame studies (201 endgames where examined) and chess problems.
Cozio's Mate

There was still in Italy a chess movement to rival that in France, though the Italian influence was almost finished. Around 1750, as Philidor was coming into prominence in France and England, a trio of chessplayers/writers sprung up in Modena, a town in northern Italy. They've come to be known as the Modenese School.



The first of these was Domenico Ercole del Rio - born in 1718 and died in 1802.
Del Rio was a lawyer by profession. Because he published his first book, Sopra il Giuoco degli Scacchi Osservazione Pratiche d'Anonimo Autore Modenese, anonymously as the title suggests, he has been referred to as the Anonymous Modenese. His book was 110 pages and later expanded by his compatriot, Lolli.






Del Rio's other book, La Guerra degli Scacchi (The War of the Chessman) was only published in translation in 1984 by Christopher Becker.





Giambatista Lolli was born in Nonántola, near Modena in 1698 (he died in 1769). A reader of law by trade, he was the student and competitor of del Rio. He wrote Osservazioni Teorico-Pratiche Sopra il Giuoco degli Scacchi in 1763. This was a huge extension of del Rio's work filling 632 pages. The first part deals with openings, but all most half of the opening theory deals with the Italian game. The part dealing with endings was probably the best treatment to date, particularly in R+B vs B and Q vs B+B endgames.
Lolli's Mate #1
Lolli's Mate #2

Domenico Lorenzo Ponziani - 1719 to 1796 - was a law lecturer and a priest whose book, Il Giuoco Incomparabile degli Scacchi, 1769, deals with strategy as well as such openings as the Vienna game and the Ponziani gambit and countergambit. Ponziani's chapter dealing with chess authors excited the interests of Baron Tasillo von Heydebrand und der Lasa and steered him towards his lifelong pursuit of historical research and book collecting.

The Modenese School advocated the open game, particularly the Italian game, favoring quick development above anything else. Del Rio had read Philidor's book and disagreed with his approach even to the point of including a criticism of Philidor's ideas in Lolli's book. Because of the type of open game that the Modenese School encouraged, they failed to grasp, or at least discounted, Philidor's ideas of building a stronger center supported by pawns.
The Modenese School was the model for the players of the early 19th century. Quick in developing, quick in attacking, their combinative style set the benchmark for direct attacks on the king.




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