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This is an auction for THE SECRETS OF THE CHESS MACHINE by Robert Lohr.

"German writer Löhr resurrects a chess-playing automaton in his generously imagined novel. Set in 1770, Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen of Hungary, anxious to win the favour of Empress Maria Theresa, builds an engineering marvel: the Mechanical Turk, a chess-playing automaton. The Turk, though, isn't exactly as it seems; hidden inside is Italian chess prodigy (and dwarf) Tibor Scardenelli, hired by Kempelen to control the contraption during its match in front of the empress. Tibor is hesitant to partake in the scam and insists he will quit after the match. The game goes off without a glitch, but Court Mechanician Frederich Knaus is suspicious of the Turk and convinces his lover, Galatea, to spy on Kempelen. Tension mounts as the Turk gains notoriety. Löhr's eye for period detail and cast of eccentrics create an immersive and mirthful experience."
- Publishers Weekly (US) review:

"In 1770, Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen introduces Vienna to the Mechanical Turk - an unbeatable chess-playing automaton that, unbeknownst to an astonished Europe, is in fact nothing more than an illusion. The Turk is actually operated from within by a God-fearing dwarf named Tibor, whose chess-playing abilities and diminutive size make him the perfect accomplice in this grand hoax. Based on a true story, this celebrated debut is a daring piece of storytelling, brimming with lust, scandal, and deception."

More very favourable reviews on

Large format (trade) Penguin paperback 2007.

341 pages.

Very good condition.

The cost of shipping is $4.95, or $6.95 (tracked mail). If you are on rural delivery and want tracked mail, the shipping cost will be $9.95.

There is of course no charge for shipping if you collect this book from my shop in Palmerston North following the auction.

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Shipping options

  • NZ Post$4.95
  • tracked mail$6.95
  • tracked mail for Rural Delivery (RD)$9.95
  • Seller allows pick-ups
  • Seller location: Palmerston North, Manawatu, NZ

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