London: Printed for Henry Herringman, and are to be sold at his shop at the sign of the Anchor, in the lower walk of the New Exchange, 1656.
Octavo: 14 x 9.4 cm. , 120,  p.,  leaf of plates. Collation: A8, a2, B-H8, I4, K1 (lacking blank A1). With an added engraved portrait of King Charles I. Complete. In this copy, the leaves in the first part are ordered as follows: leaf A2 (t.p.), leaf K1, lvs. a1 and a2, lvs. A3-A8.
FIRST ENGLISH EDITION.
A very good, crisp, complete copy of this rare book, bound in contemporary English sheepskin, ruled in blind, rebacked, boards heavily worn. Metal-cut t.p. rule shaved on two sides, portrait leaf with small repair to lower left corner, just entering the blank corner of the plate mark (no loss to image), blank corner of leaf B6 excised (no loss), a few tiny repairs to marginal tears. The book includes a woodcut chess board on p. 14. The portrait of King Charles I is by Peter Stent (fl. 1640-1667). The book includes a poem by Richard Lovelace (1618–1658). In this issue the poem begins “Sir, now unravell’d is the Golden Fleece” and is unsigned. In another issue (no precedence), the poem is titled “To his Honoured Friend on his Game of Chesse-Play” and is signed “R. Lovelace.”(See Leon, “The Games of Greco”, p. 234).
“Gioachino ‘the famous Italian’ Greco was a masterful chess analyst, head and shoulders above his seventeenth-century contemporaries… Greco’s great service to chess lies in the fact that he had made this material known to a wider circle of players than Polerio and his contemporaries had ever reached. In this way his MSS. became one of the most important productions in the literature of chess.”(Murray, p. 830)
Greco's book consists of 94 chess gambits. For this English edition, the translator-editor, Richard Beale (d. ca. 1666) has included a discussion of the origins of chess and a chapter of rules ("The Lawes of Chesse"). These rules, which include "If you touch your man you must play it," reveal the still inchoate state of the game. The book includes the first known use of the verb "castle".
“Known as Il Calabrese, Greco was born around 1600 in Celico, Calabria. Already in 1619, Greco started keeping a notebook of tactics and particularly clever games; and he took up the custom of giving copies of his manuscripts to his wealthy patrons. In 1621, Greco left Italy to test himself against players in the rest of Europe. He apparently met with success while traveling for, on his way from Paris to England, he was waylaid by robbers who divested him of 5,000 scudi, a princely sum. Finally making it to London, he beat all the best players.
“While in London, Greco developed an idea to record entire games, rather than positions, for study and inclusion in his manuscripts. He returned to Paris in 1624 where he rewrote his manuscript collection to reflect his new ideas. He then went to Spain and played at the court of Philip IV. There he beat his mentor and the strongest player of the time (other than himself), Don Mariano Morano. He finally returned to Italy where he was enticed to traveling to the New Indies, the Americas, by a Spanish nobleman. He seemingly contracted some disease there and died around 1630 (possibly 1634) at the young age of 30 (34). He generously left all the money he earned at chess to the Jesuits." (David Hooper, in The Oxford Companion to Chess)
This English edition begins with a dedication to Montague, Earle of Lindsay, who appears to have extended his protection to the publisher of the text. The editor/publisher proceeds by addressing "the industrious chess player" wherein he compares chess with warfare. He also that chess play enlightens mysteries covered by the Arts and Sciences and "in the most grave and serious professions."
“Greco's name is given as "Biochimo" on the title page - "either the original translator, or the copyist of the M.S., or the editor of the printed edition, appears, first, to have misread the Italian of Greco's Christian name; and then, secondly, (like a good Cavalier,) to have had Shakespeare's Cymbeline running in his head. In this way, Gioachino Greco Calabrese, (with a lopping off of what served at least for a surname,) came to take the odd shape of plain Biochimo" (Chess Monthly, May 1861, p. 135).
ESTC R23418; Wing G-1810; Murray, History of Chess, p. 828-9