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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Everything old is new again » » Automated Chess player...a mystery that has survived? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Gede Nibo
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So, did they ever figure out how the "Automated Chess player" worked?? I've read lots of plausible theories, ideas, the one where a man was under the table being the normal response. But even this idea has been thrown away by many a magi...

Wasn't this Houdin's creation? And are there any replicas around today?

Thanks,

Baba
sethb
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Take a look at "The Turk," by Tom Standage (Walker, 2002); it explains the complete history and workings of the effect. It's available from Amazon, see http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/det......;s=books SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Gede Nibo
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Thanks Bro!!!
Pete Biro
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This resides in Johnny Gaughan's collection
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
RiserMagic
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Pete;
Are you thinking of Kellar's Psycho? This is not the same as the chess player.
Jim
hugmagic
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No Pete is correct. John does have the Chess player and the Zither player.

Funny story on the Zither player piece. John and Jim Steinmeyr took it to a music box convention but never tipped that it was not a true autmaton. I don't know how they kept a straight face.

Richard
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Gede Nibo
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Did it really win most, if not all games? any anecdotes? cant afford the book right now!
David Charvet
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John Gaughan's chess automaton is a recreation that he built from contemporary descriptions.
The original was lost in a fire at P.T.Barnum's American Museum in New York.
hugmagic
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Right you are David.

Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
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Clay Shevlin
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Gene, I think you meant to say "automaton chess player" (not "automated," although an appropos play on words!). "Automated" it wasn't, in name or "mechanics". Clay
Gede Nibo
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Thanks...

Just tell me...was it a person??

I wont tell anyone!
Clay Shevlin
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Access to the secret isn't so difficult and is public, but I'll spare the details out of deference to some on this board who may think otherwise. Let's just say the "chess player" sometimes lost when it shouldn't have. Sethb's suggestion to read "The Turk" by Standage should answer this and other questions you may have - easy to find in book stores. Clay
sethb
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Gede -- If you want to know how the "chess player" worked but can't afford to buy the Standage book right now, I suggest you get yourself to your local public library. If they don't have the book on the shelves, they can most likely obtain it from another library through an interlibrary loan -- at no charge to you. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Gede Nibo
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Thanks fellas! I did find a magic History book at the library...read that the certain mechanism that made it work was sometimes dru*k and therefore lost the matches when it shouldn't have...
Jonathan Townsend
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Is the chess player thing described in Milbourne Christopher's Illustrated History of Magicd. I recall the item and some illustrations of its workings including the mechanical gaffs that slid inside the box from my early readings in magic. In all fairness, this sort of stuff makes great reading and offers some perspective on where we are now in magic.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Gede Nibo
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For sure...and it shows the advanced mind of a magician in its full light.

I think that's the same book I came across..full of geat anecdotes from magic times gone by..
The Mighty Fool
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I remember reading about the automaton....it was destroyed in a museum fire I think. The coolest anecdote was when Napoleon Bonaparte (emporer of continental Europe at the time) was watching the mechanical wonder, and asked to play it. The emporer then began to make all manner of illegal moves....moving pawns backward, moving a bishop like a knight, etc.....and finally, after a number of these illegal moves, the automaton made a sweeping motion with it's moving arm, knocking all the peices off the board....much to Napoleon's great delight & everyone's amusement.
Everybody wants to beleive.....we just help them along.
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