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Alan Turing vs Alick Glennie
"Turing Test" (game of the day Jun-23-12)
Friendly game (1952)  ·  Vienna Game: Falkbeer Variation (C26)  ·  0-1
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Annotations by NN.      [53 more games annotated by NN]

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Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: Indeed, and tomorrow happens to be the 100th anniversary of Turing's birth, may he rest in peace.

The Turing Centenary Conference is being held in Manchester, and part of the attraction for chess players will feature Kasparov speaking about the reconstruction of Turing's <Paper Machine>:

Premium Chessgames Member
  sfm: <elh: sfm's claim that a chess-playing algorithm requires many programmer-years is ludicrous.>

I haven't gone through my 6-year old statements, but wonder where I said exactly that.

There is a world of difference between an "algorithm" that can made legal moves, and one which makes good moves.

<Computer chess is quite simple. At high level the algorithm is basically For each legal move from the current position:
Calculate material balance
Repeat to desired search depth.>

Such a program could just as well play h3,a3,b2 as the first, second, third move.

<If you are unconcerned with optimizations, it could surely be coded in about a hundred short lines.

If you are unconcerned with readability, it could be stuffed into eight or ten lines of obfuscated perl.>

You start your posting with talking about how long _time_ it takes to write programs. Then you talk about compressing/obfuscating them.

Any programmer knows that this takes more time to do, not less - so it appears not to be relevant.

<Such a chess program would be fairly easy to beat positionally>

Such a program would be incredibly easy to beat for a human that had played chess for less than a week. It would not make a single sensible move, apart from saving material if it could see it being lost.

<...since it would ignore important but less tangible factors such as piece activity, pawn structure, etc. While true positional understanding is beyond the reach of computers, a very convincing approximation can be achieved by throwing in a few simple heuristics (like a minus score for backward pawns), and simple brute-force searching.>

Ah, we are going a bit beyond the handful of lines, aren't we?

Trying to make anything worthwhile will take considerable time. Chess programmers have in total dozens of man-years on developing programs.

<Computer chess is considered very old hat by computer scientists.>

An truly odd statement. Can you bring any quotes?

<Everyone and his dog has written a chess engine>

Despite spending 5 years in AU, Denmark, in the Computer Science faculty, I don't know any one who actually carried out this task, despite a number of them being most interested in chess. The general opinion was, that to get it anyway further than legal moves would eat enormous time.

<..and judging by the attitudes of certain posters here, i may have to write one myself to prove the point.>

Which you didn't exactly get done, I assume? Even less so one that actually made sensible moves.

- - -

This thing started with my claim that Turing has not written an algorithm where you'd feed a position into, and that it would return these moves, simply by doing calculations as computers can do.

Anyone who knows the very least about Turing's work, and computer science history, would write it off as, yes, ludicrous.

Should anyone know about just one single other algorithm, published at that time, that would come anywhere near this in complexity, please let me know. We would have world sensation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: Here is part of the algorithm used, dubbed "Turochamp."

<1. Mobility: For the queen, rooks, bishops, add the square roots of the number of moves that the piece can make, counting a capture as two moves.

2. Piece safety: For the rooks, bishops and knights add 1 point if there is one defender and 1.5 if there is more than one

3. King mobility: For the king use the same method of scoring as for the piece, but do not count castling

4. King safety: Deduct points for the king's vulnerability, defined as the number of moves that a queen could make were it on the square of the king

5. castling: add 1 point if castling is still legally possible after this move. Add another point if castling is immediately possible or if a castling move has just been made

6. Pawn credit: score .2 points for each rank advanced and .3 points for each pawn defended by one or more non pawns

7. Check and mate threats. Score 1 point for the threat of mate, and .5 points for a checkmaterial values used to each of the pieces were:pawn =1, knight=3, bishop=3.5 rook =5, queen=10 >

Then apply Minimax strategy to that evaluation. It's far from perfect from a chess perspective (why does it like to see pieces defend pawns, shouldn't it be praising pawns defending pawns?) although I find his definition of "king safety" just delightful.

Jun-23-12  rilkefan: This strikes me as a wonderful game for a pen-and-paper vaguely real-time calculation.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jahhaj: <Sneaky> This is Turing's actual algorithm, or have you just made it up? What's your source?
Premium Chessgames Member
  jahhaj: A quick google provides this link http://chessprogramming.wikispaces.....
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: Sorry for not giving a source, I was copying-and-pasting this link

(It in turn cites the book "Kasparov versus Deep Blue: Computer Chess Comes of Age," by Monty Newborn, page 24.)

Jun-23-12  xreny: it´s remarkable this game was played for an ancient Paper computer !!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: It's also worth quoting: <Champernowne later said 'they were a bit slapdash about all this and must have made a number of slips since the arithmetic was extremely tedious with pencil and paper'. In a CCC forum post, Frederic Friedel mentioned a search depth of up to three plies. > http://chessprogramming.wikispaces....

"They were a bit slapdash about all of this" ... haha, that makes me smile. You gotta love how our friends across the pond talk.

Jun-23-12  himadri: except the queens last kamakazi attack the game is fine. I think Turing still has a draw after 29.Qxb5. This means the algorithm is ok the search ply has to be improved.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jahhaj: <Sneaky> Thanks. Also worth saying that this is a reconstruction of the algorithm, the original seems to be lost.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jahhaj: Reading the above link again, amazingly you can get the Turing algorithm as an engine for Fritz! I love it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: Let us imagine Mr Glennie was in another room, and the only input he received was the moves being bed back to him by some servant.

With the knowledge he had at the time, would he be able to determine whether the W move were chosen solely by an algorithm or was there some human intervention?

Perhaps this question is rather relevent today, and even more in contexts other than chess ;)

Jun-23-12  GlennOliver: The reproduction of this game on Der Spiegel website -

- has additional annotations.

It is not certain if these annotations are provided by Turing himself or by a third party at some later point, although the tone is reminiscent of Turing.

The German chess piece names there used are -

K = König = King
D = Dame = Queen
T = Turm = Rook
L = Läufer = Bishop
S = Springer = Knight

(for completeness, B = Bauer = Pawn)

Jun-23-12  Willber G: @scormus:
Subtle and clever post!
Jun-23-12  LoveThatJoker: GG by Glennie!


Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Do you mean that the first "machine" game didn't involve THE TURK? Was white's move a blunder? Sure looked like it.
Jun-23-12  master of defence: Why 29.Qxd6?? White didn´t see Rd8, pinning the queen or what?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessmensch: Smart Alick.
Jun-23-12  gars: Turing was an acomplished middle and long distance runner and he invented the "round-the-house chess": you make your move, run or jog around the house and if your opponent did not make his move at the time you seat back, then you are entitled to move again.
Jun-29-12  Doctor Aust: The annotations GlennOliver refers to on the Spiegel version of the game are indeed Turing's - they come from the original short article he wrote partly describing his ideas for a chess programme, which is also the source of the game.

The article was in a pretty obscure book, but it is reproduced on a page at chessbase where Matthias Feist writes about programming a 'Turing Engine' for Fritz using Turing's position evaluation rules.

Jun-29-12  Doctor Aust: By the way, Gary Kasparov gave a lecture at a Turing Centenary Conference in Manchester (UK) earlier this week, talking about Turing's chess engine, and played a short game against it. There's a video over here:

Jul-14-12  Doctor Aust: The game between the 're-programmed' Turochamp engine (playing at 2-ply) and Kasparov is now on chessgames here:

Turochamp (Computer) vs Kasparov, 2012

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: I have video annotated this game here:

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: 29 moves at half an hour each is 14.5 hours. I used a slide rule to figure that out.
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