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The Adventures of Ajeeb - The Wonderful Chess Automaton

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The Adventures of Ajeeb - The Wonderful Chess Automaton by unknown

From an old description:

Ajeeb, who recently completed a tour across the United States, meeting all state champions and whose record remains undefeated, is now at the Steel Pier, Atlantic City, meeting all comers at checkers.

Ajeeb's wizardry at chess and checkers is world renowned, and its secret mechanism has baffled mankind since 1769, the year in which it was devised.

During its career, this marvelous automaton has humbled in chess not only the masters of the world, but the greatest soldier of them all - Napoleon Bonaparte.

Ajeeb's mysterious mechanism, its uncanny ability to successfully maneuver itself into positions far beyond human mathematical comprehension, intrigued and captured the interest of "The Little Corporal," and he is known to have spent many hours in vain, attempting to fathom its mechanical brain.

Yet the interest and attention from the world's notables did not stop at Napoleon Bonaparte - Ajeeb aroused the curiosity of Edgar Allan Poe to such an extent that he attended many exhibitions of this amazing automaton, endeavoring to solve its motivation, later writing a critical essay upon its uncanny perceptions.

Years later, while on exhibition in Eden Musee, on 23rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, New York, Ajeeb's reputation reached the ears of O. Henry, famous short-story writer and neighbor of the Eden Musee, and it was not unusual to find O. Henry at the side of Ajeeb, his face set in serious calculation. Yet he was fated to join his illustrious predecessors in defeat.

Much has been said and written regarding the modus operandi of Ajeeb. A journalist of 1854 blandly informs his readers that Maezel's chess-player (this was the name by which Ajeeb was known at one stage of its career) was destroyed in a Philadelphia fire. This is not true. Here are the facts of Ajeeb's ownership:

Ajeeb's inventor, Baron M. de Kempelen, a nobleman of Pressburg, Hungary, after many years spent perfecting his invention, amazed Europe with its introduction in 1769, exhibiting it for a number of years later in Paris and Vienna. In about 1817 a Mr. Maezel journeyed to Pressburg, Hungary, and prevailed upon the Baron to sell him his invention.

With Ajeeb in his possession, Mr. Maezel was induced to demonstrate his automaton to the British; and Ajeeb was shipped to London, where it enjoyed phenomenal success until 1820. In that year, Mr. Maezel brought it to America and Canada, baffling everyone fortunate enough to see it. In 1854, Mr. Maezel, then in the twilight of his life, realized that age and travel were not boon companions, and he retired, selling his now world-famous automaton to Dr. Hooper, of London, England. As the new master of this squatting, six-foot Moor, Dr. Hooper made the mistake of dismantling the automaton and causing its exterior appearance to be radically changed, being under the impression that the British public had perhaps tired of it. Strong in his convictions, he set about presenting it as something new and apart from the original. He also gave it a new name, selecting one from the Hindu language. And so it was rechristened Ajeeb meaning mysterious - which is its name today. Perhaps it may be said in the good doctor's defense that his deductions were not altogether wrong, inasmuch as the rejuvenated Ajeeb was received with great enthusiasm by the Londoners, and for years afterward was the feature attraction at Sydenham Crystal Palace, London, England.

In 1886, the Eden Musee authorities cabled Dr. Hooper a flattering offer to exhibit Ajeeb. He accepted and in this same year, Ajeeb was installed in this famous wax-figure institution, where it mystified New Yorkers until 1915, when the competitive new-born movies forced the closing of the Musee's door in bankruptcy. However, in 1895 Ajeeb acquired a new owner, Dr. Hooper, tiring of New York's hustle and bustle and homesick for his foggy London, sold Ajeeb to Mr. James Smith, of New York, and departed for England.

For almost 20 years, Mr. Smith owned Ajeeb; and his fortune was greatly increased through Ajeeb's infallibility at chess and checkers. Before his death, Mr. Smith presented this enigmatic Moor to his co-worker and life-long friend, Mrs. H. Elmore, of 2018 Avenue U, Brooklyn, New York.

After such a long and arduous itinerary, it was but fair that Ajeeb be retired to spend the remainder of its life in tranquil obscurity, and for the past 19 years, while the World War devastated civilized humanity, and prosperity strode confidently across America, only to see Black Depression purge the world of its gold. Ajeeb has rested in Mrs. Elmore's dark Brooklyn attic. Recently, however, I have been successful in persuading Mrs. Elmore to give Ajeeb back to the world once more.

Mr. Frank Frain.

15 pages
word count: 6787 which is equivalent to 27 standard pages of text

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