Amazon Studios’ popular series Sneaky Pete thrilled fans for three seasons, providing viewers with a mix of cons, drama, family fallouts and a whole lot more.
The show revolved around Marius Josipovic, who assumed the identity of “Pete” – his former jailmate upon release from prison. This thrust Marius into the drama of the Bernhardt family – who had no idea that “Pete” wasn’t really who he said he was.
The first season was critically acclaimed, and ended with Marius and his team of cronies pulling off a “Turk con”, resulting in a big payday for the group, and revenge over criminal mastermind Vince – played brilliantly by Bryan Cranston.
The internet is awash with questions regarding the Turk con – there is actually little, definitive information out there. So we put together this article to provide an answer to one of the internet’s common questions.
A Simple Explanation
The Turk Con is actually a style of con, rather than a specific con. It revolves around a con that doesn’t have moving parts. This helps to explain why the beloved Porter tells Marius at the end that the con wasn’t a “Turk”.
That is a simple explanation, it is a style of con that can be elaborate, but the key is that it doesn’t involve any moving parts. A moving part would include a member of the team not knowing what is happening, or what they are meant to do.
Eddie was not in on the act, and can therefore be called a moving part. He nearly blew the whole operation, with Marius gambling on Eddie’s brotherly love to progress the con. Having Mukhergee (or F***ergee as Vince hilariously called him) unknowingly being an accomplice was another example of a moving part.
It was a high-risk con, while a Turk con is more of a measured con that is carefully planned, with everyone knowing exactly what they are meant to do. So that is a simple explanation – if you want the full story, then read on. The origins of the Turk con come from the game of Chess!
The Origins of the Turk Con
Back in 1770, Hungarian inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen unveiled the “Turk” – a mechanical robot that supposedly had the ability to defeat humans at Chess. The robot appeared human-like in appearance, and would appear in a box at the start of games.
At the start of each game, von Kempelen would open the box, in order to show nothing untoward was happening. The Turk went on a mass winning streak – defeating the likes of US Ambassador to France Benjamin Franklin, and Tsar Paul I of Russia.
But the pinnacle of the Turk’s career would surely be a victory over a certain Napoleon Bonaparte. Legend says that Bonaparte tried some illegal moves in order to gain the upper hand, but still was unable to win.
The Turk continued to go undefeated – eventually making it to the United States. von Kempelen passed away, but the Turk lived on. But the Turk would soon perish in a fire, while on display at a museum.
With the Turk going up in flames, it was believed that the secrets behind the robot would never be known. But this was not the case. Many had pondered how the robot won countless matches – this is of course long before the advent of computers.
Unfortunately, the answer as to how the Turk won so many matches is surprisingly simple, and quite underwhelming. As mentioned earlier, the Turk was opened at the start of each game, but what the opponent saw was effectively an illusion.
A rolling seat was used to help conceal the player, who was carefully positioned in the opening of the box. The player used magnets in order to keep track of the game.
The Turk was operated down the years by some of the most renowned Chess players of the time. Each of the players who had served time as the Turk kept the secret for a long period of time.
Eventually the whistle was blown by one of the players who had been recruited to partake in the con. While it was all an elaborate ruse, the legend lives on over 300 years later – an impressive feat for von Kemepelen!
Essentially, von Kempelen made sure that not everything was as it seemed. As it was just him and the player in the box involved in the con, it was simple, but effective – with no moving parts.
Of course, Marius and his gang tried to plan things as closely as possible, but ultimately, they were relying on outside influences. But as Porter said to Marius, it really was a good con!
Sadly, there was never an opportunity for Marius and co to pull off a true Turk. Sneaky Pete was cancelled after three seasons. But we do have the memories of the show to remember.