Pedro Damiano bigraphy, stories - Portuguese chess player

Pedro Damiano : biography

1480 - 1544

Pedro Damiano (in Portuguese, Pedro Damião; Damiano is the Italian form, much like the Latin Damianus) was a Portuguese chess player who lived from 1480 to 1544. A native of Odemira, he was a pharmacist by profession. He wrote Questo libro e da imparare giocare a scachi et de li partiti, published in Rome, Italy, in 1512; it went through eight editions in the sixteenth century. Damiano describes the rules of the game, offers advice on strategy, presents a selection of chess problems (see diagram), and analyzes a few openings. 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 old Persian chaturanga via Arabic xaţrandj.

Chess problems


Chess openings

In his opening analysis, he suggests that after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 the reply 2...Nc6 is best and 2...d6 (now called the Philidor Defence) is not as good. Damiano rightly condemned 2...f6 as the worst reasonable defence (Black can play 2...Qh4 or 2...Qg5 which is worse), but ironically and deceptively this opening has been given his name (Damiano Defence). He states that 1.e4 and 1.d4 are the only good first moves and that 1.e4 is better. He examines the Giuoco Piano, Petrov's Defence, and the Queen's Gambit Accepted.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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