Yesterday, at the Alan Turing Centenary Conference in Manchester, Garry Kasparov won in 16 moves against the original Turing chess program which was created in 1950. The game, which mostly had historical value, was played during Kasparov's speech on Alan Turing and his 'Paper Machine'.
It must have been one of the easiest games he ever played. In a mere 16 moves, Garry Kasparov checkmated his opponent, and got a decent applause from the audience in the Manchester Town Hall. But it was not about the game, or the moves. This had nothing to do with "man vs machine", like the famous Kasparov vs Deep Blue matches in 1996 and 1997. This was all about the opponent. It was a showcase of the first chess computer program ever written, for the first time in action in public.
Turing wrote the chess program soon after the Second World War and before the computer had even been invented on which to run it. After finishing the algorithm, he had to run the program using pencil and paper and his own brain as the computer. It took Turing 15 to 30 minutes for each move. The game "Turing program vs Kasparov" was played on a laptop with the Chessbase program and the "Turing engine" set to a 2-ply depth. The whole game lasted about two minutes.
The game was part of Kasparov's lecture on Alan Turing and his 'Paper Machine'. Kasparov spoke on Monday morning, June 25th at the Alan Turing Centenary Conference in Manchester. The conference's main theme was Alan Turing's 100th birthday on June 23rd. The conference was hosted by the University of Manchester, where Turing worked in 1948-1954. Here's the intro to Kasparov's speech, taken from the conference website.
"It is an amazing fact that the very first chess program in history was written a few years before computers had been invented. It was designed by a visionary man who knew that programmable computers were coming and that, once they were built, they would be able to play chess. The man, of course, was Alan Turing, one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived. Soon after the war he wrote the instructions that would enable a machine to play chess. Since there was as yet no machine that could execute the instructions he did so himself, acting as a human CPU and requiring more than half an hour per move. A single game is recorded, one in which Turing's "paper machine" lost to a colleague.
Garry Kasparov will sketch the historical context of Turing’s involvement in chess and then go on to describe how the chess computer experts reconstructed the paper machine to run on a modern day computer. In the process they encountered a problem: the chess engine refused to duplicate all of Turing’s moves as recorded in the historical game. The debugging process, in which computer chess pioneer Ken Thompson was involved, left the programmers baffled. Then someone called Donald Michie, a colleague from Bletchley, who advocated debugging not the program but Turing! “Alan did not care about details; he was interested in general principle.” Kasparov’s lecture will discuss the points of deviation from the recorded game.
In the second part of the lecture Kasparov will describe a number of Turing Tests that have been performed for chess. For a while it was impossible to reliably tell computer games from those of humans. However, today the task has become simpler because of the ruthless precision of computer play, which has reached a level of many hundreds of Elo points above the best human players."
Kasparov also unveiled a blue plaque to Turing at Manchester University, with the words: "In the sweep of history, there are a few individuals about whom we can say the world would be a very different place had they not been born." Alan Turing was born in London on 23 June 1912. At the turn of the millennium, 45 years after his death, Time Magazine listed him among the twentieth century's 100 greatest minds, alongside the Wright brothers, Albert Einstein, DNA busters Crick and Watson, and the discoverer of penicillin, Alexander Fleming.
First posted in Chessvibes by Peter Doggers.