Turkish Delights

Jun 30, 2012, 1:45 PM |

     Before the last quarter of the 18th century, past the first quarter of the 19th century, chess was dominated by and promulgated through an artificial machine, a supposed automaton or robot known eventually as the Turk. The only serious competition for chessic attention the Turk had in the 18th century was Philidor who gave his blindfold demonstrations. During the 20th century, the Turk became  the toast of American chess circles.  Oddly  relatively few games played by this marvel have been preserved.  The Turk, of course, was really operated by a concealed master.  During its 84 years of existence, the Turk had a string of operators of directors as they would be later called, including Johann Allgaier, Aaron Alexandre, Boncourt (whose first name is lost forever) and Weyle (whose name is also unknown), Jacques-François Mouret, Peter Unger Williams, William Lewis, W. Hunneman, William Schlumberger and Lloyd Smith.
     Fortunately, W. Hunneman, one of the above directors, published the score of 50 games played by the Turk, offering Pawn & Move odds to all comers at a 1820 exhibition given at No. 29, St. James's Street London, with Jacques-François Mouret operating the Turk. 

The book is encumbered with the weighty title: "Selection of fifty games, from those played by the Automaton Chess-player, during its exhibition in London, in 1820; taken down, by permission of Mr. Maelzel, at the time they were played."

The Preface reads:
     The present work may not prove unworthy public attention, as connected with so extraordinary a machine as the Automaton Chess-Player; and displaying specimens of skill in a Game universally esteemed the noblest and most scientific of amusements.
     The Automaton itself is now so well known, that a description of it here is unnecessary; it will not, however, be improper, to say a word or two relative to the present selection.
     Since the commencement of its exhibition in February last, the Automaton Chess-Player has played, (giving the Pawn and Move) nearly Three Hundred Games, of which it has lost about Six. This fact is decisive; and the reader will find in many of the following games, proofs of consummate skill.
     The Automaton invariably giving the King's Bishop's Pawn and the Move, this selection forms a complete analysis of the Pawn and Move Game, a variation which has not hitherto been so fully treated on as the regular openings and gambits.
     Without wishing to shock the admirers of Philidor, it may be asserted, that the Automaton Chess-Player. has, in the course of its present exhibition, played Games
which that great Master might have equalled, but could not have excelled.

N. B. The reader will not omit to take off the Automaton's King's Bishop's Pawn, previoutsly to beginning a game.

Below are the first ten games given by W. Hunneman.  Curiously enough, the Turk/Mouret used an opening system that he tried to adopt in each game:

Game I

Game II

Game III

Game IV

Game V

Game VI

Game VII


Game IX

Game X

W. Hunneman is a rather elusive character.  I've found his name given as W. J. Hnneman, William Hunneman and, as he refers to himself, W. Hunneman.

I was able to find someone named W. Hunneman who lived in London during the same time frame - whether or not it's the same man, as likely as it seems to be, I can't say for certain.  This W. Hunneman had a peculiar distiction of having invented a nursery rhyme character through the following poem published in "An English Garner" vol. VIII and edited by Edward Arber:

Old King Cole, his life and death.
              by W. Hunneman
   (written between 1830 and 1837)

Old King Cole was a merry old Soul,
And a merry old Soul was he:
He called for his Pipe, and he called for his Glass,
And he called for his Fiddlers three.
There were Pa-gan-in-i and SPAGNIO-LETTI,

And to make up the three, MORI:
For King Cole he was fond of a Tri-
O, fond of a Trio was he.

For old King COLE was a merry old Soul,
And a merry old Soul was he:
He called for his Pipe, and he called for his Glass,
And he called for his Fiddlers three.

Old King COLE kept Court at the " Hole
'o the Wall " in Chancery
lane, near the street which is termed " Fleet"
(A queer name for Chancery!):
So his subjects to cloak from the very provok-
ing Bills of an Attorney;
Old King COLE turned his eyes to COKE,
and a very good Lawyer was he.

For old King COLE, &c.

Old King COLE, though a merry old Soul,
Not read nor write could he;
For to read and write, 'twere useless quite
When he kept a Secretary.
So his mark for Rex was a single " X,"
And his drink was ditto double:
For he scorned the fetters of four and twenty Letters,
And it saved him a vast deal of trouble.

For old King Cole, &c.

Old King COLE was a musical Soul,
So he called for his Fiddlers three;
And he served 'em out a dozen pounds of best German resin,
And they played him a Symphony.
Spagnioletti and MORI, they play an Oratori;
While the great Pa-gan-in-i
Played God save the King, on a single string;
And he went twelve octaves high!

For old King Cole, &c.

Old King COLE loved smoking to his Soul,
And a Pipe hard, clean, and dry;
And Virginny and Canaster, from his Baccy Box went faster
Than the " Dart" or the Brighton " Fly."
With his Fiddlers three, and his Secretary,
He'd kick up such a furious fume;
You'd think all the gas of London in a mass
Had met in his little back room.

For old King Cole, &c.

Old King CoLE was a mellow old Soul
And he loved for to lave his clay:
But not with water; for he had in that quarter
An hy-dro-pho-bi-a.
So he always ordered Hemp for those that joined a Temp-
erance Society;
And he swore a Drop too much, should always finish such
As refused for to wet t'other eye.

For old King Cole, &c.

On old King Cole's left cheek was a mole,
So he called for his Secretary;
And bade him look in a Fortune-telling Book,
And read him his destiny.
And the Secretary said, when his fate he had read,
And cast his nativity,
A mole on the face boded something would take place;
But not what that something might be.

For old King COLE, &c.

Old King COLE, he scratched his poll;
And resigned to his fate was he:
And he said," It is our will, that our Pipe and Glass you fill,
And call for our Fiddlers three."
So Pagan-in-i took Viotti in G;
And his Concerto played he:
But at page forty-four, King COLE began to snore:
So they parted company.

For old King COLE, &c.

Old King COLE drank so much Alcohol
That he reeked like the worm of a still;
And, while lighting his pipe, he set himself alight,
And he blew up like a gunpowder mill.
And these are the whole of the records of King COLE
From the COTTON Library;
If you like you can see 'em at the British Museum
In Russell Street, Bloomsbury.

For old King CoLE was a merry old Soul,
And a merry old Soul was he:
He called for his Pipe, and he called for his Glass,
And he called for his Fiddlers three.