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Minds, machines, and monsters
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A chess-player is not simply one who plays chess just as a chess piece is not simply a wooden block. Shaped by expectations and imaginations, the figure occupies the centre of a web of a thousand radiations where logic meets dream, and reason meets play. This book aspires to a novel reading of the figure as both a flickering beacon of reason and a sign of monstrosity. It is underpinned by the idea that the chess-player is a pluralistic subject used to articulate a number of anxieties pertaining to themes of mind, machine, and monster. The history of the cultural chess-player is a spectacle, a collision of tradition and recycling, which rejects the idea of the statuesque chess-player. The book considers three lives of the chess-player. The first as sinner (concerning behavioural and locational contexts), as a melancholic (concerning mind-bending and affective contexts), and as animal (concerning cognitive aspects and the idea of human-ness) from the medieval to the early-modern within non-fiction. The book then considers the role of the chess-player in detective fiction from Edgar Allan Poe to Raymond Chandler, contrasting the perceived relative intellectual reputation and social utility of the chess-player and the literary detective. IBM's late-twentieth-century supercomputer Deep Blue, Wolfgang von Kempelen's 1769 Automaton Chess-Player and Garry Kasparov's 1997 defeat are then examined. The book examines portrayals of the chess-player within comic-books of the mid-twentieth century, considering themes of monstrous bodies, masculinities, and moralities. It focuses on the concepts of the child prodigy, superhero, and transhuman.

Locating monstrosity in representations of the Automaton Chess-Player
John Sharples

6 ‘Everything was black’: locating monstrosity in representations of the Automaton Chess-Player Encounters Continuing the inquiry into the forms that these figures could take in cultural representations that attempted to resist the implications of a mechanistic intelligence, this chapter considers the idea of chess-playing machines as statues. While the statue shares some Gothic tendencies with the automaton, considering the chess-player in this way foregrounds a material presence in the world in a way the chess-player as automaton, or magical object (secular or

in A cultural history of chess-players
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IBM’s Deep Blue and the Automaton Chess-Player, 1997–1769
John Sharples

4 Future shocks: IBM’s Deep Blue and the Automaton Chess-Player, 1997–1769 I, who have felt the horror of mirrors Not only in front of the impenetrable crystal Where there ends and begins, uninhabitable, An impossible space of reflections1 Appearances The introduction to this book suggested the potential for the term chess-player to be greatly expanded and capable of covering a wide variety of physical forms. The previous chapters have discussed the chess-player as sinner, melancholic, and animal, imbricating issues surrounding social utility, emotional values

in A cultural history of chess-players
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Kasparov and the machines
John Sharples

Automaton Chess-Player1 And, whoa! <Garry Kasparov exits room> Commentary for Garry Kasparov vs. Deep Blue, 19972 Closer The cultural power of chess-playing machines was confirmed or denied by a variety of methods under the banner of resistance. Such readings denied any potential for the machine to escape the boundaries of secular magic. That is, they failed to acknowledge the way chess-playing machines function as examples of supernatural magic within culture, taking on aspects of science-fictional discourse and possessing an uncanny impact due to the mimetic qualities

in A cultural history of chess-players
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‘Of magic look and meaning’: themes concerning the cultural chess-player
John Sharples

literary topic, and the emergence of celebrity players, such as François-André Philidor, the Automaton Chess-Player, and Paul Morphy.28 This period saw the chess-player firmly established as a cultural figure, even a distinct cultural type. The game became viewed, in part, as respectable and embodying characteristics of a rational recreation as international tournaments were held and chess-play became spectacle. Twentieth-century chess appeared as something of a coda to the nineteenth. The era of ‘sports chess’ saw it supposedly develop into a ‘sedentary sport’ with ‘a

in A cultural history of chess-players
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Exploding heads and the death of the chess-player
John Sharples

-player was seen in Chapter 4 as various strategies of resistance were considered to the challenge of the Automaton Chess-Player and Deep Blue. The absent body of the chess-player was discussed in Chapter 5 in the construction of Garry Kasparov’s adventure with Deep Blue. Further discussion of posthuman chess-players was touched upon in Chapter 6, considering the machine and human as statue. Chapters 7 and 8 considered images of Bobby Fischer which sought to domesticate his performance, confining his talent and affirming his human-ness, in spite of his anti-Soviet superhero

in A cultural history of chess-players
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Absence and presence in Reykjavik, Iceland, 1972
John Sharples

; the virtuoso at a distance from his audience; the virtuoso playing ceaselessly, to death, playing themselves out of existence; the visitor to the spectacle stepping outside familiar social procedures; the automaton chess-player with its hidden secrets; the automaton chess-player inside a locked room; the automaton chess-player as a black box holding in a swirling violence of historical forces; the chess-player in isolation perfecting his craft; the chess-player in isolation losing his mind. This chapter takes up the issues of absence and presence once more within

in A cultural history of chess-players
Three lives of the chess-player in medieval and early-modern literature
John Sharples

medieval medical structure related to the body. The four humours (or tempers) of melancholy, choleric, phlegmatic, and sanguine were each raised in association with the chess-player at various times. This chapter predominantly considers melancholy, on account of its foreshadowing of the features of the human and non-human automaton chess-player considered in later chapters. Chess-play was thought to affect players in specific ways related to the improvement and worsening of both behaviour and cognitive ability. Melancholy, as an aspect of sadness related to ‘just about

in A cultural history of chess-players
Respectability in urban and literary space
John Sharples

Return’, quotes 50 Minds one Histoire des cafés de Paris (1857): ‘Chess players at the Café de la Regence: It was there that clever players could be seen playing with their backs to the chessboard. It was enough for them to hear the name of the piece moved by their opponent at each turn to be assured of winning.’79 This arrangement of facing away from the chessboard disturbed a fundamental component and orientation of the chess game performance, namely, the two protagonists facing each other – considered below in the context of automaton chess-players – which allowed

in A cultural history of chess-players
John Sharples

illustrations of the Automaton Chess-Player (in which surface and interior were drawn at the same time) and caricatures of the appearance of chess-players such as Bobby Fischer in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s (in which the character of the chess-player could allegedly be read). The strategies of bodily representation of the comic-book chess-player were also made to reflect emotional and behavioural norms. In the selected tales, these norms related to the improvement of health, personal and national prestige, personal profit, and the promotion of right values – the same principles

in A cultural history of chess-players