Paolo Boi

Paolo Boi (1528–1598) was an Italian chess player. He is considered to have been one of the greatest chess players of the 16th century. In 1549, he beat Pope Paul III in a chess match.[1]

Paolo Boi
Paolo Boi.jpg
Paolo Boi in a sketch from a British book (before 1898)
Full namePaolo Boi
Country Italy
Syracuse, Italy
Died1598 (aged c. 70)
Naples, Italy
TitleGM noble

Early lifeEdit

He was born in Syracuse, Sicily (now Italy) and he was brought up for the church under the belief that Paolo would become a pope and a saint, because of a prediction. However, Paolo himself formed different plans; he start to learn chess and a few years later he escaped to Greece, then to Saragossa, and finally returned to Sicily as a well known chess player.[2]


Chess tournament at the court of the king of Spain

He had played several times against Giovanni Leonardo Di Bona in Italy and the two chess players were considered equal. Then Paolo Boi and Giovanni Leonardo Di Bona won the strongest chess player of their time, the famous Spanish grandmaster Ruy López de Segura, at the first known international Chess tournament in the court of Philip II of Spain at Madrid, in 1575. As a result, they became the strongest chess players of the era and henceforth the two were called the "Light" and "Lustre" of the noble game.[2]

The chess treatises created by Boi were not preserved. A small number of his chess games have survived to our time, such as his party’s debut against the chess player Shovara, which gained fame, but only the first fourteen moves have survived.[3]

He was the first who, without seeing the board, played three games at once, and at the same time conversed with other parties upon different topics. In France, Catherine de Medici, who was also an adept at chess, showered favours upon him; and in Portugal he had the honour of having the King Don Sebastian for his adversary.[2]


Basilica of Saint Francisco di Paolo, where the chess player is buried

Boi died in Naples. Historian H. J. R. Murray says he was poisoned by jealous rivals.[4] Other sources say he caught a cold when hunting and died as a result of it.[5] His body was buried in the church of Saint Francisco di Paolo; Prince Stigliano and many of the Neapolitan nobility followed him to the grave.[2]


  1. ^ May 16, 1999. "Boi, Paolo". Chess Encyclopedia. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Lange, Max (1974) [1859], "Paolo Boi and Paul Morphy", The Chess and Genius of Paul Morphy (2nd ed.), Hippocrene Books, Inc., p. 378, ISBN 978-0882541822, retrieved 4 May 2020
  3. ^, Scovara vs Paolo Boi (C53), 1575.
  4. ^ Murray, H. J. R. (1913), "Boi, Paolo", A History of Chess, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-827403-3
  5. ^ Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), "Boi, Paolo", The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280049-3

External linksEdit