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The Turk

In 1770 Wolfgang von Kempelen invented the Turk. A wooden automaton which proved to be virtually unbeatable at chess for the next 84 years. It was not until after the Turk had travelled the world and played thousands of matches (including challenges from Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin) that the true secrets of its inner-workings were revealed.

Carriages approaching Schönbrunn Palace could be seen approaching almost a mile away, this before they even crossed onto the massive forecourt enclosed by a semi-circle of imposing rococo palace buildings. The forecourt itself was over 300 meters long and waiting for a carriage to cross it, even in the fairly mild summers of Vienna, could be an exhausting prospect. For this reason only the most exalted of visitors received a royal welcome in the bright Austrian sunshine, and even then rarely. This is why, save for the guards on post, few people, if any witnessed the arrival of a balding Hungarian mathematician on horseback, leading a heavy wagon carrying something covered by a thick tarpaulin.
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