DAMIANO, de Odemeira. Questo libro e da imparare giocare a scachi et de le partite, in Italian and Spanish. Rome: Étienne Guillery and Ercole Nani, 1512.
4° (206 x 141mm). Chessboard within 4-part decorative border on title, the upper border with initials "I M" and "I B", and 93 diagrams of chessboards in varying states of play, all with a 2-3- or 4-piece border. (Very small wormholes in final quires touching a few letters only, slight staining, last leaf torn at upper hinge, A1.4 repaired at hinge.) 19-century red paper boards (very slightly scuffed), yellow edges. Provenance: Queléiro Marquez (name stamp, signature).
FIRST EDITION of the first Italian chess book, and one of the first printed books to discuss the new game (alla rabiosa). In the dedication to his friend Giovanni Giorgio Caesarino, which was not reprinted in any later edition, Damiano suggests that the game was invented by Xerxes, thus explaining its Spanish name, Axedrez. He begins his work with an explanation of each chess piece, moves on to describe three games, gives practical advice, outlines 72 problems and studies, and discusses blindfold chess. Chapters 8 and 9 are in both Italian and Spanish. An apothecary from Odemira, Portugal, Damiano has been immortalised in two chess moves, the Damiano Variation in the Petroff defence and Damiano Variation. He was also the first to state definitely the rule that the board is to be arranged so that the square h1 is white (H.J.R. Murray, A History of Chess, 1962, p.788).
The upper title border, bearing the initials "I M" and "I B" presumably comes from material taken over by Guillery from Johann Besicken and Martin of Amsterdam. According to van der Linde, the diagrams illustrating chess moves are printed with moveable metal type. Although Brunet and Palau give four leaves in quire C, Sander is correct in calling for six, as here. Brunet II, 480; Palau 68219; A. van der Linde, Geschichte und Litteratur des Schachspiels (Berlin: 1874) I, 337-340; Sander 2291 (stating that only 3 or 4 copies are known).