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The Turk Chess Automaton Hoax and why it was done - Research Paper Example

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The Turk Automaton Hoax “Tis a deception! Granted, but such a one as does honour to human nature; a deception more beautiful, more surprising, more astonishing, than any to be met with in the different accounts of mathematical recreations” (Karl Gottlieb von Windisch, 1784)…
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Download file to see previous pages Von Kempelen created this machine after attending Maria Theresa’s court, where there was an act of illusion being performed. Von Kempelen promised himself that he would return to the Palace with a creation that would top all of the other illusionists’ acts he had seen. This is exactly what he did. He created a machine with a life-size model of a Turkish man in traditional costume. Its left arm held a long Turkish pipe while the right arm lay on top of a cabinet. Atop this cabinet was the chessboard and the cabinet had three doors, an opening and a drawer, which held a red and white chess set (Standage, 24). The design of the machine was intended to leave observers confused as to how it worked. When opened, it had a variety of gears similar to a clock on one side, while on the other it had a cushion and other brass parts. It was intended that onlookers could see through the machine, which helped to maintain the illusion that von Kempelen was trying to sustain. He further goes on with the presentation with a sliding operator’s seat, which when slid caused the gears of the machine to come into view. This allowed for furthering the illusion, as it kept the operator invisible (Standage, 24-27). To continue the misdirection even further than this, the arm of the Turk could be moved with a lever, opening and closing his hand in suit with the lever’s operation. ...
The Turk debuted in 1770, about six months after the illusionists’ acts that von Kempelen had seen in Empress Maria’s court. He always went through an elaborate demonstration of the machine and all of its parts. He would open the doors and drawers and allow audience members to inspect the machine thoroughly. After this, von Kempelen would tell them that the Turk was ready for a game with a willing challenger. The Turk always used the white chess pieces and had the first move. The Turk had some movements that it could make, those being: nodding two times if he threatened his opponent’s queen, three times if he put the king in check. If the Turk’s challenger made an illegal move, the Turk could shake his head, put his opponent’s piece back, and move his own. To continually maintain this illusion even during play, von kempelen would wander around the room during the game and invited the audience to bring magnets, irons and other things to test if the machine functioned through the use of magnetism or weighting (Standage, 203-204). Another aspect of the Turk’s exhibition was his ability to complete the knight’s tour, a complex and famous chess puzzle. This puzzle required that the player move his knight about the chessboard, landing on each square exactly one time. This was a great phenomenon to even the most experienced players, as most struggled with the knight’s tour but the Turk could complete it easily. The Turk was able to do this because of a pegboard used by the director inside the machine who also had a map of the puzzle, which he could follow (Standage, 203-204). The Turk traveled across Europe as its fame grew. Von Kempelen was more interested in other projects that he had going, thus often lying about the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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