More than 100 chess problems compiled by mathematician Luca Pacioli: possibly with drawings by his friend, Leonardo da Vinci?

De Ludo Scachorum

Italy — Around 1500

De Ludo Scachorum

De Ludo Scachorum

Italy — Around 1500

  1. Famous treatise on the game of chess by the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli (circa 1447–1517)

  2. 100+ chess problems were clarified and depicted in detailed illustrations – possibly by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

  3. Originally dedicated Isabella d’Este (1474–1539) and her husband Francesco II Gonzaga (1466–1519), Marquess of Mantua

De Ludo Scachorum (Special Collection Edition)

De Ludo Scachorum

Checkmate

Outnumbered and backed into a corner, the black king is facing certain defeat. Supported either by bishops or knights (the symbols for each are nearly impossible to discern from one another), the two red rooks have cut off the black king’s routes of escape – his only move now is to concede defeat. Potential moves are identified with the lowercase initials “a”, “b”, and “c”. As we see here, the miniatures of this manuscript are clear, practical, and stripped of artistic embellishment.

De Ludo Scachorum

Alternative Titles:
  • On the game of Chess
  • Schifanoia
  • Über das Schachspiel
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

This special publication of the famous treatise about the game of chess by the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli is a true historical treasure: an original Pacioli manuscript from ca. 1500. Over 100 chess problems were clarified on the manuscript’s 48 pages and were depicted in detailed illustrations – possibly from Pacioli’s friend and colleague Leonardo da Vinci. This treasure was rediscovered in the year 2006, making the history of this work even more interesting!

De Ludo Scachorum

Luca Pacioli (1445–1517) is one of the most famous Italian mathematicians of the Renaissance. The document De divina proportione is considered to be his magnum opus, nonetheless, Pacioli also composed numerous other important works and made breakthrough discoveries. Additionally, he was close friends with Leonardo da Vinci, whom he met in Milan while they were both working for Ludovico il Moro. Pacioli and Leonardo worked closely together henceforth. Therefore, it is not implausible that Leonardo also illustrated Pacioli’s chess treatise with a few sketches of his own.

The Fascination with the Game of Kings

The original manuscript of the treatise De Ludo Scachorum, also known as the Schifanoia, consists of a 48-page booklet measuring 11.5 x 16 cm. It can be dated to ca. 1500 and, alongside the text, contains detailed depictions of chessboards with red and black figures. A total of 117 games are described in this way, sometimes in the new a la rabiosa technique. As a passionate chess player, Pacioli was enchanted by this extremely complex, mathematically logical game, depicting here the solution and explanation for various chess problems and positions.

A Precious Original

This treasure, which can be found today stored under the shelf mark ms. 7955 in the Archivio Crononini Cronberg in Italy, can look back on an eventful provenance. The document was originally dedicated to the important Margravine of Mantua Isabella d’Este and her husband Gianfrancesco Gonzaga. Mentioned by the author in his own writings, the famous manuscript fell into obscurity and was first rediscovered in 2006 at its modern repository. Count Guglielmo Coronini previously acquired the manuscript in Venice in 1963.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
On the game of Chess
Schifanoia
Über das Schachspiel
Size / Format
48 pages / 16.0 x 11.5 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
Around 1500
Language
Illustrations
Over 100 educational positions and chess problems, drawn in red and black
Artist / School
De Ludo Scachorum (Special Collection Edition)

De Ludo Scachorum

Opening Moves

Pacioli’s various chess problems are presented in this manner: a simple grid with red and black pieces. The grid is perfect, obviously made with the help of a table square, and contrasts with sloppily-written commentary in the upper and lower margins that has been crossed out for an inexplicable reason. Here we see the beginning of a game.

The shape of the pawns is immediately familiar, as is the queen, but the rest are not. It takes a discerning eye to differentiate between the rooks, knights, and bishops. Various opening moves are identified with red letters in the field between the opposing sides in this simple, clear, and instructive diagram.

2 available facsimile edition(s) of „De Ludo Scachorum“

De Ludo Scachorum (Special Collection Edition)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
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De Ludo Scachorum (Special Collection Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2007
Limited Edition
999 copies
Binding
Hand-coloured goatskin
Commentary
1 volume (280 pages) by D. D'Elia, D. Contin, A. Bartoli Langeli, E. Mattesini and A. Sanvito
Language: Italian
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
De Ludo Scachorum (Circulating Stacks Edition)
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De Ludo Scachorum (Circulating Stacks Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2007
Limited Edition
not limited
Binding
Covered in artificial leather, embossed like the original
Commentary
1 volume (280 pages) by D. D'Elia, D. Contin, A. Bartoli Langeli, E. Mattesini and A. Sanvito
Language: Italian
More Information
Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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