During a speech at a prestigious conference to mark the centenary of Alan Turing, one of the fathers of modern computing, Garry Kasparov played a game of chess against Turing’s “paper machine” – a chess playing algorithm that Turing had “operated” himself using pen and paper and taking half an hour a move. It had been converted into a ChessBase compatible engine, with the former World Champion delivering mate in 16 moves.
Alan Turing was a British mathematician born a hundred years ago on 23 June 1912. His seminal breakthrough was in 1936 when he published a paper outlining what came to be known as the Turing machine – a hypothetical linear device that was capable of carrying out any mathematical computation that could be represented as an algorithm. The theory was soon put to the test when Turing became central to the efforts to break German codes during World War II, while after the war he saw his ideas realised in what we would already recognise as modern-day computers. He died tragically early in 1954. The accepted story has long been that he committed suicide due to depression caused by hormone treatment he underwent to “cure” homosexuality (the alternative was a prison sentence). It’s recently been argued, however, that the death may well have been accidental.
In Garry Kasparov’s speech on Monday 25 June, entitled “The Reconstruction of Turing's ‘Paper Machine’”, he praised Turing and his works profusely, with quotes including:
You can watch part of Kasparov’s speech below:
On Saturday Kasparov also unveiled a plaque commemorating Turing on the Manchester University building where the mathematician used to work.
Kasparov takes on Turing’s “paper computer”