Die Schachmaschine oder: Geniestreiche über Geniestreiche

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Die Schachmaschine oder: Geniestreiche über Geniestreiche ("The Chess Machine or: Masterstroke on masterstroke") is a comedy in four acts by Heinrich Beck (1760–1803)[1].

Also referred to simply as Die Schachmaschine.

The original text

Written and produced during the Weimar period by Beck. One source (a programme for the Theater in Oldenburg, 1836[2]) suggests that the play was a free adaptation of a comedy by Frederick Reynolds (1764-1841).

According to Richter, the German comedy featured as no 9 (ahead of Schiller's Maria Stuart) on a list of the ten most popular works of the time in Germany.

Performed by the Weimar Court Theatre in 1795 and in Berlin 1798, apparently as Die Schachmaschine and attributed to Heinrich Beck. His dramatic work appeared under the title "Theater" in three volumes in Frankfurt, beginning in 1802.

Performed by the Deutsche Schauspieler-Gesellschaft, Düsseldorf in 1804[3] under the full title, but for some reason attributed to the actor and director Heinrich Becker (1770-1822)[4].

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1802: Performed on 13 February 1802 as Schachmaschine oder Genie Streiche ueber Genie Streiche by the Hoogduitsch Gezelschap van het Liefhebbery Theater ("The High German Company for Amateur Theatre") in Cape Town. According to F.C.L. Bosman (1928) the advert for this production is the first extant formal advertisement for any performance in South Africa.


Programme for a performance by Deutsche Schauspieler-Gesellschaft, Düsseldorf in 1804.ZVDD Digital Collections[5]

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [6]: pp. 78, 111,



Lesley Sharpe. 2007. National Repertoire: Schiller, Iffland and the German Stage. Peter Lang: p. 164. [7]

Programme, Theater in Oldenburg, 1836. Landesbibliothek Oldenburg Digital[8]

Simon Richter. 2005. The Literature of Weimar Classicism. Boydell & Brewer: p.142[9]


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