Kasparov Versus Turing!
Written by Alex Armstrong   
Wednesday, 04 July 2012

No the headline isn't an error. The well-known Russian Chess Grand Master took on Alan Turing's TurboChamp chess program at a recent live event at the University of Manchester's Turing 100 Celebration. What happened next...

                             ...is unfortunately predictable -

Garry Kasparov beat the program in just 16 moves.

It is predictable because Turing started work on the program over 60 year ago and it only uses a two-move look ahead. Kasparov estimates that he looks around ten moves ahead - but probably with a lot of heuristic pruning. The game lasts a remarkably short time:

 

 

Given that Turing never finished the program, this is a chess match from beyond the grave - similar to hearing long gone composers playing their own music on a player piano.

Turing was a chess enthusiast and stories of him inventing different ways to play the game to combine it with his love of running are well-known. He invented a game where each move had to be completed after running around the building. As a proponent of computing and the early stages of AI, it seems only reasonable that Turing should have considered chess an ideal testing ground.

He wrote the program without the help of a computer, by hand. He even managed to run the program - without a computer. A game was played where Turing read the program to simulate the computation. The game lasted three hours and ended in a checkmate for the human player after 29 moves.

Eventually a computer large enough to run TurboChamp was available and he attempted to implement it on a Ferranti Mark I at Manchester in 1950 The program used a two-move look ahead with heuristics to pick likely moves to concentrate on.

Kasparov commented:

“I suppose you might call it primitive, but I would compare it to an early car – you might laugh at them but it is still an incredible achievement.

Later Kasparov unveiled a plaque on the Manchester University building where Turing worked. 

 

turingchesskasparov

 

Related Articles

Alan Turing Year Events

The Manchester Computers

 

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 July 2012 )