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Mephisto (Automaton) vs Isidor Gunsberg
"Don't Bring a Gun to a Mephisto Fight" (game of the day Dec-03-2020)
Leicester Square Exhibition (1878) (exhibition), London ENG, Apr-??
Italian Game: Evans Gambit. Compromised Defense Main Line (C52)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-08-20  Jean Defuse: ...

The Field published the following game in which "the new mechanical chess player Mephisto" defeated Gunsberg, and from the choice of opening variation and strength of play, it seems probable that either Henry Edward Bird or Joseph Henry Blackburne was the operator.

Source: Tim Harding - Eminent Victorian Chess Players, p. 344


Dec-03-20  HiHoHum: Gonzo chess. Bad*ss!
Dec-03-20  goodevans: I seem to recall Bobby Fischer dubbing <7...dxc3> as 'a little too greedy'. I was always happy when it was played against me.

There's a nice irony to the fact that Isidor Gunsberg had previously been the hidden operator of Mephisto.

Dec-03-20  offramp: If one did get into a fight with Mephisto (Automaton), and decided to unloose 9 or ten .45 calibre bullets into its wooden carcase, I strongly suspect that the operator, be he Henry Edward Bird or Joseph Henry Blackburne, would have made a most expeditious exit from that fabtraption, and moreover would not have paused to prolong the argument with fisticuffs.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: I owned a mephisto chess computer 30 years ago. I think it was endorsed by either karpov or kasparov.
Dec-03-20  The Kings Domain: Good game, quite the fight. Well-played by the automaton.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: 11...b6 is just atrocious mistake, and 12...Bb7 is objectively bad too, though I see that black was hoping to get something from his pressure on a8-h1 diagonal against g2. 19.e6 with double threat 20.exf7 and 20.Qb8+ looks more convincing.
Dec-03-20  Ironmanth: Lotsa' fisticuffs here; great old game! Thanks, chessgames. Y'all stay safe out there, please!
Dec-03-20  morfishine: Exciting old fashioned game, thanks!
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Exciting game. For the pun, I would have preferred <Don't Bring Guns to a Mephisto Fight>.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: From part of a letter written by John Keeble:

<I have learned from Mr. Gunsberg further particulars concerning Mephisto. I think it rather fortunate that you opened the subject of Mephisto, for all facts concerning him have never been published and they are all locked up in Mr. Gunsberg's memory. He has always been willing to give me information which he does not to other people. [...]

Two rooms were necessary for Mephisto. By means of magnetism and electricity the moves made on Mephisto's board, were recorded in the other room where Mr. Gunsberg was in charge, and by moving a duplicate arm Mr. Gunsberg could cause his move to be repeated on the board before Mephisto. He could, consequently play in great comfort, which was not he case with the other Automatons. Except for one day Mr. Gunsberg played on all occasions for Mephisto. This conductorship of the figure was supposed to be shrouded in mystery, but a well-known writer, and brilliant player, suggested Mr. Gunsberg as the playing force. He was asked to call and investigate, and when he arrived he found Mr. Gunsberg playing against the figure instead of for it, and in case the brilliant player wanted a game Zukertort had, for this day only, been installed at the other end! Another illustration of the old saying, that there are tricks in every trade. <Our Folder, v11 n8, April 1924, pp181-182>>

Reducing Tim Harding's probability of "either Henry Edward Bird or Joseph Henry Blackburne was the operator" to zero I should think.

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