Giovanni Leonardo Di Bona

Giovanni Leonardo da Cutri (* 1542 in Calabria, † 1597) was an Italian chess master.

Leonardo da Cutri is one of the greatest chess masters of the 16th century. He was named for his lanky stature "Il Puttino " ( the little one ). After his law studies in Rome, he devoted himself entirely to the game of chess and beat all the masters there.

But when in 1560 the Spanish champions Ruy López came to the Italian capital and Leonardo challenged to a chess battle, defeated "Il Puttino ". This devastating lesson spurred his ambition. He went for two years to Naples, where he studied intensively the game of chess. When he returned to Rome, he defeated the Italian master Paolo Boi of Syracuse in a competition and finished more matches against leading Masters in various cities successfully.

He now felt strong enough for a rematch against López. In 1575, he traveled well prepared together with Paolo Boi and Giulio Cesare Polerio to Madrid, where the court of King Philip II of Spain held the first international chess tournament in history. For Spain played Ruy Lopez and Alfonso Seran. The Italian champions were received with great reverence.

It was played at the court directly under the eyes of the king who is interested pursued the games when the affairs of state would allow. For the contest between Leonardo López and three won games he sat out 1000 scudi as price, a huge sum for that time. Leonardo lost the first game with the black pieces in a research King's Gambit after 12 moves. Also in the second game he lost. But then carried the profound advice of his coach and secondary Danten, the great theorist Polerio, fruits: Leonardo won the next three games. Since Paolo Boi won against Lopez and Seran, the Italian triumph was complete. It came to stitch the fight for overall victory between Boi and Leonardo. The first two games went from a draw, then also subject to Boi and Leonardo was the first international tournament winner by today's standards. The king gave him a precious ermine coat and adorned with precious stones salamander. He also received assurances that his hometown Cutro had to pay for 20 years no tax.

Leonardo traveled to Portugal and defeated at the court of the Portuguese King Sebastian in a competition and the Portuguese champions El Morro.

From now on, the Italian Chess dominated in Europe.


  • George Walker: The Light and Lustre of Chess, in: Chess & Chess- player: Consisting of Original Stories and Sketches, London, 1850, (English).
  • Man
  • Chess players
  • Chess Player (Italy )
  • Born in 1542
  • Died in 1597