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Chess by Shelby Lyman

Once the modern computer entered the realm of chess, mankind’s hegemony was doomed.

Before computers, there existed the Turk, a so-called automaton propelled by a mysterious mechanism which allowed it to play very strong chess.

The secret of its prowess was a skilled player, small in size, cleverly concealed within its cabinetlike structure.

When Napoleon entered Berlin in 1806 flush with several military victories, he asked to publicly engage the mechanical player.

More than two centuries later, we may wonder why?

As Lord Rosebery, wrote in a 1909 London publication:

“At chess he (Napoleon) was eminently unskilled and it taxed all the courtliness of his suite to avoid defeating him: a simple trickery which he sometimes perceived.”

As the match began, Napoleon insisted on overstepping a barrier separating him from the Turk, “I will not contend at a distance, we fight face to face,” he exclaimed, according to a 1950s edition of the New York Chess monthly.

And they did with the Emperor ingloriously suffering defeat after defeat in three consecutive games. Not graciously we may add.

“With a gesture of scorn, he swept the chessmen from the board, and crying ‘Bagatelle’ (a trifle) strode over knight and pawn and so out of the room.”

Below is a win by Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu against Wesley So from the 2015 grandmaster tournament in Dortmund, Germany.