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Mephisto (Automaton) vs NN
"Nobody's Business But the Turk's" (game of the day Nov-27-2014)
? (1770)
Scotch Game: Fraser Variation (C45)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The usual way of sacrificing two rooks, the bog-standard way, is to leave them on their starting squares. The Turk is much more interesting and gives them away on g7 and h7. There is a similar "active" two-rook sacrifice in the analysis of Kasparov vs Anand, 1999.
Sep-28-13  mjenne6: I would love to get my butt kicked by The Turk
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Istanbul not Constantinopol.
Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: This is really an excellent game. Thanks for posting this.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: A funny story has Napoleon, a strong player in his own right, being enticed to play the "Turk". After quickly losing, Napoleon, not suspecting a thing, demanded a re-match. The lil general then pulled out his handkerchief, wrapped it around the head of the "Turk", and with his unflappable opponent now blindfolded, snickered and said "Okay, now move you dummy"

Bonaparte got a better game, but the "Turk" maddeningly always "found" the right moves, and again NB met his Waterloo

Infuriated, Napoleon drew his sword and cried out "Take this you pompous puppet!" and all in one motion, whacked off the head of his imperturbable opponent

Napoleon then walked over to the head, which had awkwardly rolled and come to rest in the corner, sightless eyes staring at nothing, and muttered "Care for another game you Headless Hack?"

And the head replied with the only word it was programmed to say:



Nov-27-14  Immortal Gambit: I'm not completely sure, but I feel like I was looking yesterday and this was already a GOTD.
Nov-27-14  Amarande: Black is only a pawn down at move 24 and might lose in the long run because of that fact (there does not appear any other way but the text to regain the lost material in the short term ... on the other hand, if he exchanges the Knights he's probably OK, as heavy piece endings with only one pawn ahead tend towards a draw), but still has a game to play. After he opens the file, 24 ... Nxb4? things suddenly go to pieces.

"Pawn-grabbing, like sin, cannot be abolished by fiat." -- Chernev & Reinfeld (originally in reference to Nimzowitsch vs Alapin, 1914)

Interesting that the song GOTD quote plays on came out in 1953 originally - I didn't know that bit, but it happens to also be that was the 500th anniversary year of the fall of Constantinople. A nice little touch there, I have to wonder if the song writers thought of that too, or if it was just 'hey here's a catchy little tune' ...

Premium Chessgames Member
  MJCB: Looking at the date, curious that the Turk never played Philidor.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: It may indeed have been 'Nobody's Business But the Turk's', but the Corleone Family settled accounts with Virgil Sollozzo, the executioner.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <MJCB> -- < Looking at the date, curious that the Turk never played Philidor.> I can think of two possible reasons. One, Philidor spent much of his career in England, while the Turk was touring Europe. And two, they would have been in economic competition with one another: the Turk played exhibition games against princes and nobles, while Philidor made a living playing English aristos. There were no tournaments in those days, nor regular matches, and travel was difficult - so strong contemporaries often never met.
Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: 3. Possibility: Philidor spent to much time inside the turk.
Nov-27-14  MindCtrol9: 11....f5 brought all the problems.That Turk had a really good concept on how good was to have the pieces in action.Zanchin says that Turk was about 1800, and I don't think so.That guy was good.There was no elo at the time, but those people were strong players.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheBish: <rich187113: The turk looks about 1800 Elo.>

I would say much higher. How many 1800 players have you seen play a game like this? Most would not even consider a double rook sacrifice, and therefore would not likely finish a game this way.

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <john barleycorn: 3. Possibility: Philidor spent to much time inside the turk.>

possibility 4: Philidor knew the difference between too and to.

Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <thegoodanarchist: ...

possibility 4: Philidor knew the difference between too and to.>

That, too. :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Brutal attack by the Turk...
Dec-16-14  Christoforus Polacco: probably better for black is 14... B:c6
Feb-22-17  Sally Simpson: vonKrolock: back in 2004 asks a couple times about this games authenticity.

The Turk vs NN, 1770 (kibitz #16)

I think he is right to question it. A Scotch Game in 1773, the Steinitz is possible but Black is not too bad a player for the N.N. tag. certainly way above your usual 1700's N.N. fodder.

He develops, castles, gives back the pawn, He is still in the game on move 14 (when most N.N's by now have been mated) he starts to go astray with 14...Nxc6 lured by the developing tempo Bf8-c5+ and then got caught trying to exploit a pin.

But if that is not a good enough reason to doubt it how about....

On page 77 of 'The Chess Player's WeekEnd Book' by R. N. Coles (published 1950) the exact same game is given except White in that case is Mephisto (Automaton) operated by Isador Gunsberg and played in London in 1883.

I think the latter is the better candidate

Feb-24-17  Sally Simpson: "The Modern Chess Instructor" By Steinitz published 1889 has this game in it saying it was played by Mephisto and operated by Mr. Gunsberg.

it is looking very much like this game should go to Mephisto and be dated 1883.

Premium Chessgames Member
  vonKrolock: Sally Simpson: You solved the riddle! Gunsberg alias Mephisto anno 1883 - It was from start a matter of attribution; not of authenticity: thanks for the research.
Feb-24-17  Sally Simpson: vonKrolock

I am going to check with a higher authority, Steinitz may have got it wrong and R.N. Coles copied him though I think the game is too good for circa 1700 and this looks like the work of Gunsberg.

(unless Mephisto really was just a machine with nobody inside.)

Feb-27-17  Sally Simpson: The 'higher authority' has come through.

Tim Harding, John Saunders (Editor of CHESS) and Chess historian/author Hans Renette all expressing extreme doubts this was circa 1770 and finding the original source of 4...Qh4 in the Scotch.

George Walker in his 'New Treatise' (1841) states it was suggested by the London 1830's player Wellington Pulling (so now we know)

I think we should trust Steinitz and R.N. Coles on this one and give, as they say, the game to Mephisto (Automaton) with Isidor Gunsberg hiding inside.

Tartakower in his ''A Breviary of Chess " does not actually say this game was played in 1770 by the Turk. Though one can be forgiven for thinking this is what he means.

He gives a brief essay on Chess Automatons where he mentions the Turk and finishes it with this game.

Mar-01-17  Cibator: Amazed it was all of thirteen years before anyone noticed Mephisto was being confused with The Turk!
Mar-01-17  Sally Simpson: Hi Cibaro,

vonKrolock had his doubts back in 2004. I stumbled here by accident and something in the 4...Qh4 variation (with 5.Nf3) made me seek out a game I had seen with this line. I hammered my chess library and eventually found it in the Weekend Chess Book by R.N.Coles.

From there and with a lot of help from my friends it has been rectified.

It must also be noted that C.G. themselves had their doubts (see note after move one).

The other good news it has unearthed 11 games played by Wellington Pulling who was often described as a brilliant amateur player from London.

I'm off to the Bio section to see what we can do with them.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: 1770. The enigmatic NN comes out with a TN! 4...Qh4! A move which has not been refuted for 247 years.

One would think that in so old an opening as this, the Scotch, that TNs would be thin on the ground. But to my amazement a computer came up with a TN in this very line on <move 5>! Gandalf vs XINIX, 2001

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