The Turk

the turk

The Turk was a fake chess-playing machine constructed in the late 18th century. From 1770 until its destruction by fire in 1854, it was exhibited by various owners as an automaton. Constructed and unveiled in 1770 by Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734–1804) to impress the Empress Maria Theresa, the mechanism appeared to be able to play a strong game of chess against a human opponent. The Turk was in fact a mechanical illusion that allowed a human chess master hiding inside to operate the machine.

With a skilled operator, the Turk won most of the games played during its demonstrations around Europe and the Americas for nearly 84 years, playing and defeating many challengers including statesmen such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. Although many had suspected the hidden human operator, the hoax was initially revealed only in the 1820s by the Londoner Robert Willis.

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One Comment to “The Turk”

  1. I remember reading about this years ago. While it was a fake, it’s still a remarkable piece of technology!

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