Naples: Giovanni Domenico Montanaro, 1634.
Quarto: 20 x 14.6 cm. Pt. I. , 71, p. Pt. II. , 64 p. Collation: Pt. I. a4, A-I4; Pt. II. a4, *4, A-H4.
FIRST EDITION of the first work. SECOND EDITION (1st ed. 1604), with updates, of the second work.
Bound in contemporary limp vellum, moderately soiled. Internally very good copies: I. (‘Il Puttino’): Free end-paper a little ragged, upper blank margin of first few leaves slightly nibbled, mild foxing, gatherings G-I lightly browned, occasional small stains. II. (‘Inventione’): Small dark stain in upper blank margin throughout, not affecting the text; gathering G lightly browned. Large woodcut printer’s device on both title pages.
Alessandro Salvio (1575-1640) was one of the foremost Neapolitan chess-players. A student of Michele di Mauro, Salvio cemented his international standing in 1598 when he defeated the Sicilian master, Paolo Boi. He established a chess academy in his native Naples (in the house of jurist Alessandro Rovito) and was a frequent player in the chess houses of the city, where he also demonstrated his skill at blindfold chess.
Salvio was considered the unofficial international chess champion from 1598 until he was eclipsed, around 1620, by Gioachino Greco. But Salvio’s theories and practice remained foundational in Italian chess into the 18th century. “Italian players were generally content to rely on Salvio for their openings, and made no attempt to advance the theory of play until the rise of the Modenese masters in 1750.” (Murray, A Short History of Chess, p. 56).
Salvio’s first work on the subject of chess, “Trattato dell' Inventione et Arte Liberale del Gioco di Scacchi”, “contains thirty-one chapters with openings, eleven with games at odds, and twenty-one ‘giochi di partiti’, or problems, some being supplied from actual play.”(Murray, History of Chess, p. 825).
This edition also contains the first edition of Salvio’s ‘Il Puttino’. The book comprises a biographical romance of Giovanni Leonardo (called “Il Puttino”), the leading Italian player in the period just prior to Salvio’s ascendancy (1560–1590), and the aforementioned Paolo Boi; large extracts from Jacobus de Cessolis’ medieval chess classic, “Liber… super ludo scacchorum”, thirteen chapters of gambits, seven chapters of ‘giochi piani’(by which Salvio and his contemporaries meant games that are not gambits), and thirteen containing problems.
Although Salvio is rather free with his details and dates, “Il Puttino” is also of importance for preserving information on leading figures of Italian chess culture in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, including records of famous matches, such as Geronimo Cascio’s 1606 win over Giulio Cesare Polerio; and a match between Salvio’s teacher Michele di Mauro and Tommaso Capputi.
Murray, History of Chess, p. 825, number 3