The Machine Man

The Machine Man‎

GM Julio_Becerra
11 | Chess Players

Isidor Gunsberg (November 2, 1854, in Budapest – May 2, 1930, in London), English merchant, future challenger for the World Chess Championship and chess journalist began his career as the hidden operator of the chess automaton Mephisto! Nowadays the name is used by the consumer electronics company Saitek on its line of standalone chess computers.

The third automaton Mephisto was made by Charles Godfrey Gumpel (c.1835 - 1921) and unlike The Turk and Ajeeb it had no hidden operator and functioned by electro-mechanical means. Gumpel took some 6 or 7 years to build it and it was first shown in 1878 at his Leicester Square home. Mephisto was operated by Isidor Gunsberg in the main but when it went to the Paris Exposition in 1889 it was worked by Jean Taubenhaus. It was shown regularly for ten years and at one time had its own club. After 1889 it was dismantled and its subsequent whereabouts are unknown.

When nine years old he went to England, in which country he resided,thereafter ,competing in numerous chess tournaments as an English representative. In 1885 he surprised the chess world by capturing the first prize at the Hamburg Chess-Masters' Tournament, beating Blackburne, the English champion, and Tarrasch. But mainly his success in match play leaves no doubt that he was one of the strongest competitors of his era: he defeated Henry Edward Bird (+5 -1 =3), Joseph Henry Blackburne (+5 -2 =6), and drew with Mikhail Chigorin (+9 -9 =5). In 1890, he challenged Wilhelm Steinitz for the world championship, but lost (+4 -6 =9).

Arpad Elo calculates that Gunsberg's best 5-year average Elo rating was 2560. According to another assessment system, Chessmetrics, at his peak in July 1889 Gunsberg's play was equivalent to a rating of 2744, and he was ranked number 2 in the world, behind only Steinitz. He was ranked number 1 in the world, albeit with a slightly lower rating, on the February 1889 rating list. His best single performance was his 1887 match against Joseph Henry Blackburne, where he scored 8 of 13 possible points (62%) against a 2744-rated opponent, for a performance rating of 2784.

In 1916 he sued the Evening News for libel when they said that his chess column contained "blunders." He won the suit after the British High Court accepted a submission that in chess matters, eight oversights did not make a "blunder."

He died in May of 1930 at the age of 75. Gunsberg’s obituary in June 1930 was written by Joseph Blake, who wrote that: “An early discovery that chess journalism yielded, with diligence, a better livelihood than chess play, Gunsberg conducted at different times more chess columns, and more at one and the same time, than any other English chess journalist has ever done.” 

Now I propose you guys to try to find the answers in the following Gunsberg puzzles.






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