Monday, 21 September 2009

The first computer game?

Before there were chess computers, there were chess 'Automatons'. These supposedly were machines that could play chess, although these days we know that they had a human operator hidden inside. The most famous of these was "The Turk" but others like "Mephisto" were also exhibited across Europe and North America.
Such were their popularity that there even books of their games were published. If you click on this link you will find such a book from 1820! The notation used is quite fascinating as it is a hybrid of English Descriptive and what I would term 'motion descriptive' (ie pawn moves are described by the number of squares the pawn moves forward). Also the gender of the squares are female, which I guess was the fashion of the time.
The game I've chosen is the first in the book. Black gave the odds of pawn (KBP) and move, but White was doing OK until the last move where they simply dropped a piece.

Mr C***E v Automaton
London, 1820

1.e4 e6 2.d4 c6 3.f4 d5 4.e5 c5 5.c3 Nc6 6.Bb5 Qb6 7.Bxc6+ bxc6 8.Nf3 Ba6 9.Kf2 cxd4 10.Nxd4 c5 11.Nf3 Nh6 12.h3 Be7 13.g4 0-0 14.Qb3 Qc6 15.Kg3 Rae8 16.Qd1 Nf7 17.h4 Bd8 18.Qc2 Bb7 19.Ng5 Bxg5 20.hxg5 g6 21.Qh2 h6 22.gxh6 Kh7 23.Qg2 Qc7 24.Qe2 d4 25.Rf1 Qc6 26.cxd4 cxd4 27.Rf2 Qxc1 0-1

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