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Ajeeb (Automaton)
Falk, New York (photographer)
TCS 1.183, Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University
Number of games in database: 11
Years covered: 1869 to 1901
Overall record: +4 -6 =1 (40.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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(born 1868, died 1936, 68 years old) United Kingdom

[what is this?]
Ajeeb, the second chess automaton to become famous, was built in England by Bristol cabinet-maker Charles Alfred Hooper (1800 - c.1900). Like its predecessor The Turk (Automaton), it was billed as a technological marvel capable of playing chess through purely mechanical means, but in fact concealed a chess master behind its faux gears. It drew tens of thousands of spectators to its games, the opponents for which included Harry Houdini, Theodore Roosevelt, and O. Henry.

After a very successful run in London Hooper took Ajeeb to France, Belgium, Germany and then in 1885 to New York where it was so popular that Hooper made another Ajeeb that performed concurrently in other cities. There were also other unauthorized copies, which makes Ajeeb's history hard to trace.

The best known of Ajeeb's operators was Harry Nelson Pillsbury and after his death in 1906 Ajeeb only played draughts (checkers). Hooper retired to England in 1895 but Ajeeb continued to tour until 1936. The original Ajeeb disappeared during the Second World War and its whereabouts remain a mystery.

The third famous automaton that followed subsequently was Mephisto (Automaton).

 page 1 of 1; 11 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Ajeeb vs H F L Meyer  0-1361869Crystal Palace ExhibitionB30 Sicilian
2. Ajeeb vs F Riemann 0-1251877BreslauC45 Scotch Game
3. Ajeeb vs Lipschutz  0-1311885ExhibitionC50 Giuoco Piano
4. Ajeeb vs Baez 1-081888ExhibitionB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
5. Ajeeb vs NN  1-0151888ExhibitionC51 Evans Gambit
6. Ajeeb vs C Devide 0-1171888Eden Musee ExhibitionC57 Two Knights
7. Ajeeb vs M Bachrach 1-0321888ExhibitionB40 Sicilian
8. Ajeeb vs J Adelson  1-0271888ExhibitionC21 Center Game
9. Ajeeb vs Otto Hesse ½-½501892Exhibition MatchC01 French, Exchange
10. C Curt vs Ajeeb 1-0111901Casual gameC25 Vienna
11. C Curt vs Ajeeb 1-0291901Casual gameC39 King's Gambit Accepted
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Ajeeb wins | Ajeeb loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-28-12  jnpope: Found a B&W photo of Ajeeb from 1935 (second image):

Aug-28-12  jnpope: Showalter,JW - Ajeeb [B23]
USA New York, NY (Eden Musee)
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 a6 4.d4 Nc6 5.d5 exd5 6.exd5 Qe7+ 7.Be2 Ne5 8.0-0 d6 9.Re1 Bd7 10.Bf4 0-0-0 11.Bd3 Nxf3+ 12.Qxf3 Qf6 13.Ne4 Qh4 14.Nxd6+ Bxd6 15.Bxd6 Bg4 16.Bf5+ 1-0 source: Nashville Daily American, 1887.05.22
Sep-03-12  jnpope: Michaelis,OE (Capt.) - Ajeeb [B01]
USA New York, NY (Eden Musee)
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.Nf3 e6 5.d4 Bd6 6.Bd3 b6 7.Be4 c6 8.0-0 Bb7 9.Re1 Nf6 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.d5 cxd5 13.Nxd5 Qd8 14.Nf6+ gxf6 15.Bxb7 Qc7 16.Bxa8 Nd7 17.Bd5 Ne5 18.Nxe5 Bxe5 19.Qf3 Bxh2+ 20.Kh1 Be5 21.Bc6+ Ke7 22.Rad1 Bd6 23.Rxd6 Qxd6 24.Rd1 Qe5 25.Qa3+ (...) source: Nashville Daily American, 1886.07.04 1-0
Sep-03-12  jnpope: Ajeeb - Olly,EN [B01]
USA New York, NY (Eden Musee), 1893.07.23
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.h3 e5 6.Bb5 Bd6 7.Bxc6+ bxc6 8.0-0 Nf6 9.d3 0-0 10.Bg5 Re8 11.Ne4 Re6 12.Nxf6+ gxf6 13.Bh4 Be7 14.Nd2 Kh8 15.Ne4 f5 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.Nd2 Rg6 18.Qe2 f4 19.Kh2 Qg5 20.Rg1 Bd7 21.Nf3 Qh6 22.Qxe5+ Rg7 23.Rae1 Rag8 24.Re4 f6 25.Qxf4 (# in 4) source: New York Recorder, 1893.07.28 0-1
Sep-03-12  jnpope: Ajeeb - Buck,CF [B01]
USA New York, NY (Eden Musee), 1898.10
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.Bc4 Bf5 5.Nf3 e6 6.0-0 Bg4 7.Be2 c6 8.d4 Qc7 9.Bd2 Bd6 10.h3 Bh5 11.Ne4 Bf4 12.Qc1 Bxd2 13.Qxd2 Bg6 14.Bd3 Nd7 15.Ne5 Ngf6 16.Nxf6+ Nxf6 17.f4 Bxd3 18.Qxd3 0-0 19.Qc4 Nd5 20.Qd3 Rfd8 21.Qe2 Qb6 22.c3 c5 23.dxc5 Qxc5+ 24.Qf2 b6 25.Qxc5 bxc5 26.g3 Ne3 27.Rf3 Nf5 28.Nd3 Rd5 29.Re1 Rad8 30.Ne5 Rd2 31.Rf2 Nxg3 32.Nc6 R8d7 33.Nxa7 Rxf2 34.Kxf2 Rxa7 35.Kxg3 Rxa2 36.Re2 Kf8 37.Kf3 Ke7 38.Rd2 Ra4 39.Rg2 g6 40.Rd2 f5 41.Kg3 Re4 42.Kf3 e5 43.fxe5 Rxe5 44.Kf4 Kf6 45.Rd6+ Re6 46.Rd7 h5 47.Rc7 Re4+ 48.Kf3 c4 49.Rc6+ Kf7 50.Kg3 g5 51.Kf3 g4+ 52.hxg4 hxg4+ 53.Kg3 Re2 54.Rxc4 Rxb2 55.Rc7+ Ke6 56.Ra7 Re2 57.Kf4 Rf2+ 58.Kg3 Rf3+ 59.Kh4 Rh3+ 60.Kg5 g3 61.Ra6+ Kd5 62.c4+ Kxc4 source: Manufacturers and Farmers Journal, 1898.11.14 0-1
Sep-03-12  jnpope: Does anybody know how to get games and corrections submitted? I've used the "suggest your correction" link for fixes for several mistakes on this site and to date none of them have been acted upon... at this point I just assume nobody is actually running this site... am I mistaken?
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: <jnpope> your corrections will be processed, but the waiting time is 3-6 months.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <jess> Not necessarily: I've submitted literally dozens of corrections since coming back, with some showing up that very day and many in 24-36 hours. Game submissions usually take a bit longer, however.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: <perfidious> excellent, let's hope Mr. Pope enjoys your success with the corrections he's submitted.
Sep-04-12  crawfb5: <jnpope> First, let me say I quite like your Pillsbury book. With the recent modifications to allow volunteer editors to correct round and date info, it was quite useful in fixing a number of Pillsbury's games. Year corrections still require an administrator, but that may change.

Most of the correction slips are handled by the <CG Librarian>. Here's her latest update on the process from June:

<Hi guys. As mentioned before, I've been processing 500-1000 correction slips a month, not to mention fixing other problems I notice along the way, fixing names on new uploads, etc. The corrections queue is now under 3000, the lowest it's been in a long time, but obviously still a big backlog. I'm trying to address all new corrections as they come (while still working on the backlog) since I know a timely response is important to those of you who are taking the time to submit them.

I'm still somewhat giving priority to the "easy" ones like name corrections, wrong player name in a game, missing checkmate, etc., as opposed to move corrections or wrong result, where I really want to be careful or double check the research. That's not to say they're more important, but while there's still such a backlog I think we get more results per time spent. Of course, NO corrections that are apparently "ignored" are deleted.

Please don't feel like your volunteer work is unappreciated. It's amazing how much you all have been doing on bios and helping me find corrections. I think recently when you do a player search, it's noticeably better: few backward names, incomplete names, or duplicates. Part of the reason I haven't been around my forum is because I have been embarrassed/frustrated that I haven't fully kept up with new corrections. I also don't feel ready to address questions like "Which order should Chinese names be in?" until the backlog is taken care of. But I am around nearly every day (part time :)) and making progress.>

Her user forum is here: User: cg librarian

Games are submitted here: PGN Upload Utility

Administrators other than the librarian handle new game submissions. CG has been talking about putting a new system in place for game submissions for some time. Any of us who submit games can tell you the current system barely works; sometimes the games appear relatively quickly and sometimes it takes months. There isn't any notification feature in place either, so you have to periodically check to see if the game has been added.

If you have any corrections or additions to <Ajeeb's> bio you'd like to suggest, I or one of the other volunteer editors can do that.

Sep-04-12  jnpope: I was just starting to get curious as my first corrections were submitted back in May. I fully understand being bogged down (it happens to the best of us).
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <crawfb5> That explains the games-some I've submitted have gone up that day (in the case of historical figures) and others have taken a while or not at all.

Most of the corrections have involved incorrect/incomplete names, which explains why those get changed very quickly.

In any case, I appreciate what our librarian does.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: <jnpope> You now have Premium Membership, which means you can open your own forum if you want. In addition, you have access to many enhanced search functions and other stuff, listed here:

Premium Membership Help Page

And here is a step by step "tour" which explains each new function in detail:

The Chessgames Premium Membership Tour

To navigate through the tour, just click the "next" arrow in the upper right part of the page.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <jnpope> Congratulations on getting a Premier Membership!!
Sep-04-12  jnpope: <jessicafischerqueen> Thanks. Took me a few minutes to figure out what had changed on me while I was eating dinner.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: <jnpope> It's the least I could do given how much value I've gotten out of your Pillsbury book over the last two years. Now you can also get a snazzy avatar if you want. You can choose one from this page:

Avatar Area

Or you can upload an image of your own choosing to that page.

Jan-01-13  thomastonk: "We would hint to Mr Hooper that unless he wants his maschine to be beaten by Tom, Dick and Harry, he had better secure the services of some eminent player." Gustavus Charles Reichhelm, 1869.

No wins here for Ajeeb?

Jan-01-13  jnpope: Ajeeb - Adelson,J [C21]
USA Boston, MA, 1888.12.21
1.e4 e5 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd4 4.Qxd4 Nf6 5.Qe3+ Be7 6.Nc3 Nxd5 7.Nxd5 Qxd5 8.Qd3 Be6 9.Be3 0-0 10.Ne2 Qxd3 11.cxd3 Nc6 12.Nc3 a6 13.a3 Ne5 14.Be2 b6 15.d4 Nc4 16.Bc1 Nd6 17.0-0 Nc4 18.d5 Bxd5 19.Nxd5 Bc5 20.Bxc4 c6 21.Nc7 Ra7 22.Nxa6 Bd4 23.Nb4 Rc8 24.Re1 c5 25.Nc6 Raa8 26.Ne7+ Kf8 27.Nxc8 Rxc8 source: Boston Herald, 1888.12.22 1-0
Jan-01-13  jnpope: Ajeeb - Baez (Prof.) [B00]
USA Milwaukee, WI, 1888?
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Nf6 7.gxh7+ Nxh5 8.Bg6# source: Galveston Daily News, 1888.04.29 1-0
Jan-01-13  jnpope: Ajeeb - Bachrach,M (Prof.) [B40]
USA Cincinnati, OH 1888?
1.e4 e6 2.d4 c5 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.N1c3 Nf6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Na3 Be6 10.Bc4 b5 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.Qh5+ Kd7 13.Ne2 Nc6 14.c3 Rg8 15.Qf7+ Be7 16.0-0 Qb6 17.Rad1 Raf8 18.Qh5 Rg5 19.Qxh7 Rfg8 20.Kh1 Rxg2 21.Ng3 R2xg3 22.hxg3 Qd8 23.Kg2 Qf8 24.Rh1 Rg7 25.Qh6 Qf7 26.Qh5 Qg8 27.Qh8 Qf7 28.Qa8 Bd8 29.Qb7+ Bc7 30.Rh8 Qg6 31.Qc8+ Ke7 32.Qxc7# source: Galveston Daily News, 1888.08.19 1-0
Jan-01-13  jnpope: Ajeeb - NN [C51]
USA New York, NY (Eden Musee), 1888
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Bc5 6.d4 exd4 7.0-0 d5 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 Na5 10.Bg5 Nf6 11.e5 Nxc4 12.exf6 g6 13.Qa4+ Qd7 14.Rfe1+ Kf8 15.Bh6+ Kg8 (# in 2) source: Columbia Chess Chronicle, v3n7-8, 1888.08.18, p59 1-0

Ok, here are four wins by Ajeeb. Happy New Year. :)

Jan-01-13  thomastonk: Thank you <jnpope>! Happy New Year.
Feb-14-13  Caissanist: The New Yorker published an article about the history of Ajeeb, <The Pride of the Eden Musee>, which is now available online, courtesy of Batgirl: .
Jun-12-14  zanzibar: Seems a little bit of a shame not to have added <jnpope>'s submissions by now.

I have a question about Ajeeb's demise, i.e. date of death. It's given as 1936 here on <CG>, but from what source?

Maybe the same reliable source that stated Pillsbury drank a quart of whisky/day... ? Hmmm...

Actually, the bio actually states that the original was lost track of in WWII - which would imply no dod is known.

Well, Ajeeb is perhaps a good case of the dilemma future (and maybe not even that far future) biographers will face... what is the exact death date of a being which gets cloned?

BTW- Wiki gives Ajeeb's demise as a 1929 Cooney Island fire. Which matches this source:

<The Arts of Deception: Playing with Fraud in the Age of Barnum By James W. Cook>

"But like the Kempelen original, Ajeeb perished by fire in 1929."

And actually, this site gives an exact date 1929.03.15

Apr-03-15  gauer: Perhaps powered by The Turk (Automaton) or Mephisto (Automaton), it seems such a shame that last Wednesday's player of the day never got the chance to spar with rival Borislav Ivanov (as well as purported box of interior built-in gearing mechanisms).

Should the ChessBookie Game have allowed such a wager (hurry, ends tomorrow...), it might've been the bet-of-the-leg to determine the site champion!

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