The Turk, Chess Automation

Overview

With all-new research and facts unknown for two centuries, this is a richly detailed and comprehensive account of "The Turk," Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen's amazing but fraudulent Chess Automaton that held the world spellbound for 85 years beginning in 1770. In actuality, the Turk was manipulated by a man housed in a hot box, working by candlelight—but the secret was kept for decades. Besides playing a good game of chess within an hour's time, the manipulator had to keep track of the moves, work the pantograph arm...

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Overview

With all-new research and facts unknown for two centuries, this is a richly detailed and comprehensive account of "The Turk," Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen's amazing but fraudulent Chess Automaton that held the world spellbound for 85 years beginning in 1770. In actuality, the Turk was manipulated by a man housed in a hot box, working by candlelight—but the secret was kept for decades. Besides playing a good game of chess within an hour's time, the manipulator had to keep track of the moves, work the pantograph arm apparatus, nod the head, roll the eyes, cover up sneezes and coughs, and work the sound mechanism. This work contains a detailed discussion of the literature surrounding the Turk along with an analysis of its hidden operation. The complete collection of published games played by the Turk, many, again, unknown for 200 years, is also included.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
fascinating
C&RL News
detailed and thoroughly documented history
Blitz Chess
deeply researched...highly recommended
Booknews
Presenting new facts turned up by recent research, chess expert Gerald M. Levitt offers an account of "The Turk," Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen's amazing but fraudulent Chess Automaton that astounded the world for 85 years beginning in 1770. In three parts, he sets out the complete history of the amazing Chess Automaton, uncovers the mystery of the illusion and the theories advanced to explain it, and offers a collection of original material written about the Turk, including a sizable collection of games played by individuals who served as the Turk's hidden manipulators. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From The Critics
From 1770 to 1855, the European chess communities were held spellbound with Baron Wolfgang von Kemplene's amazing automaton popularly known as "The Turk". It was ostensibly an automatic chess playing machine, but was in reality one of the most successful hoaxes perpetrated on the public. The Turk was manipulated by a man housed in a hot box (working by candlelight). In addition to playing a good game of chess within an hour's time, the hidden director had to keep track of the position, move the pieces with the pantograph arm apparatus, nod the head, roll the eyes, cover up sneezes and coughs, and work the mechanism that spoke the word "Echeck!". Gerald Levitt's superbly researched, written, and presented history of this amazing hoax includes an extensive analysis of how it operated, a collection of published games played by the Turk (several unknown for 200 years), and numerous other games known to have been played by the Turk's hidden directors. The Turk, Chess Automaton is "must" reading for all chess history enthusiasts and students of 18th century hoaxes and popular culture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786407781
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2000
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald M. Levitt has been playing postal and over-the-board chess for many years. He has authored numerous articles for Chess Life and Florida Chess, written a chess column, and made live radio appearances as a chess expert. A retired doctor of podiatric medicine, he lives in Naples, Florida.

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