The Chess Machine

Front Cover
Penguin Press, 2007 - Fiction - 344 pages
14 Reviews
Based on a true story, The Chess Machine is the breathtaking historical adventure of a legendary invention that astounded all who crossed its path

Vienna 1770: Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen unveils a strange and amazing invention, the Mechanical Turk, a sensational and unbeatable chess-playing automaton. But what the Habsburg court hails as the greatest innovation of the century is really nothing more than a brilliant illusion. The chess machine is secretly operated from inside by the Italian dwarf Tibor, a God-fearing social outcast whose chess-playing abilities and diminutive size make him the perfect accomplice in this grand hoax.

Von Kempelen and his helpers tour his remarkable invention all around Europe to amaze and entertain the public, but despite many valiant attempts and close calls, no one is able to beat the extraordinary chess machine. The crowds all across Europe adore the Turk, and the success of Baron von Kempelen seems assured. But when a beautiful and seductive countess dies under mysterious circumstances in the presence of the automaton, the Mechanical Turk falls under a cloud of suspicion, and the machine and his inventor become the targets of espionage, persecution, and aristocratic intrigue. What is the dark secret behind this automaton and what strange powers does it hold? The Chess Machine is a daring and remarkable tale, based on a true story, full of envy, lust, scandal and deception.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: The Chess Machine

User Review  - Josh Sowin - Goodreads

Worth reading (or, like I did, listening to)— it's fascinating material for a historical novel. The reason for 3 stars is the writing is mediocre... but I don't know if it's the translation or/and the original. Read full review

Review: The Chess Machine

User Review  - Terrence Weijnschenk - Goodreads

A great novel about fictional characters surrounded by non-fictional characters, set in the backdrop of 18th century Austria. One of those books you don't want to finish because you want to stay ... Read full review


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3

21 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Robert L hr was born in Berlin and grew up there and in Bremen and Santa Barbara, California. He trained as a journalist at the Berlin School of Journalism, then worked for Sat. 1 news and for the Berlin daily paper Der Tagesspiegel, Berliner Zeitung, Neue Zeit, and Taz, and finally as a correspondent for The Washington Post. After many years writing screenplays, musicals, plays, and short stories, L hr decided to try his hand at a novel. The Chess Machine is his first.

Bibliographic information