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Alan Turing
A Turing 
Number of games in database: 1
Years covered: 1952

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(born Jun-23-1912, died Jun-07-1954, 41 years old) United Kingdom

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Alan Mathison Turing was born in London, England and during World War II, he contributed greatly to the defeat of Hitler using his remarkable insights into the science of cryptanalysis to crack most of the Nazis' encrypted communications.

He is widely regarded as the father of modern computer science, largely due to his mathematical contributions which formalized the concept of the computer algorithm, and hypothetical computation engines (now known as Turing Machines), even before computers were a technological reality. According to Jack Copeland:*

"At a time when the term 'computer' meant nothing more than a human clerk who sat at a desk doing calculations with paper and pencil, Turing envisaged a 'universal computing machine', whose function could effortlessly be transformed from word processor to desk calculator to chess opponent—or anything else that we have the skill to pin down in the form of a program. Like many great ideas, this one now seems as obvious as the wheel and the arch, but with this single invention, the stored program universal computer, Turing changed the world.

In 1945 Turing went on to design a vast stored-program electronic computer called the Automatic Computing Engine—or ACE. The name was an homage to 19th century computing pioneer Charles Babbage, who proposed giant mechanical calculating 'engines'. Turing's sophisticated ACE design found commercial success in the English Electric Company's DEUCE, one of the earliest electronic computers to go on sale. The DEUCE became a foundation stone of the fledgling British computer industry, and, together with a small handful of other mark 1 computers—all in one way or another profoundly influenced by Turing's ideas—the DEUCE propelled the nation into the Computer Age. Turing also contributed to the triumph at Manchester, where Tom Kilburn and Freddie Williams built the first computer with memory stored programs, which can be considered as a universal Turing machine realised in electronic hardware. Their 'Baby', the world's first modern computer, came to life in June 1948, the same year that Turing joined the Computing Machine Laboratory at Manchester. He remained at The University of Manchester for the rest of his life."

In 1948, working with his former undergraduate colleague, D.G. Champernowne, Turing began writing a chess playing algorithm. In 1952, lacking a computer powerful enough to execute the program, Turing played a game against Alick Glennie, in which he simulated the computer, taking about 30 minutes per move. The program lost that game, although it is reported that it scored a victory against Champernowne's wife.

In the early 1950s, Turing was persecuted for his homosexuality, and prosecuted under British law. In 1954, Turing died from cyanide poisoning*, his death being ruled to have been suicide. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown released a statement on 10 September 2009 apologising and describing Turing's treatment as "appalling".

The 100th anniversary of his birth was celebrated at The Alan Turing Centenary Conference.**

Sources * **

Wikipedia article: Alan Turing

 page 1 of 1; one game  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. A Turing vs A Glennie 0-1291952Friendly gameC26 Vienna

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <hemateme>

<It all changed when the Enigma code was broken. Rommel was in the habit of sending out hourly messages to Berlin and Italy, regarding his situations and timetable for battle and supplies. Suddenly the British knew exactly where and when he was going to attack. They knew the delivery times of oil tankers and spare tank parts from Italy, and those boats were duly sunk by the RAF. Without ammunition and enough oil to maneuver, Rommel was slowly ground down,>

That sounds like a load of crap, frankly, Two things happened before Rommel started getting beaten: Montgomery took over the army, and the British got hundreds of new tanks. I suspect that had a lot more to do Rommel losing than Enigma -- particularly the new tanks.

I don't think Rommel even knew when tankers were coming in.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Well, I'm mostly quoting from British historian David Irving's book about Rommel. I've read two other books about 'Hitler's favorite general.' All the books concur in that Rommel was winning against the British 8th army, even when he was outnumbered in men, tanks and planes, until a few things happened: 1)the enigma code was broken, and now his advance battle plans were known by the British high command and 2) The RAF air force was strong in the Mediterranean, and their navy outclassed anything Italy had in the area. This meant that increasing numbers of German supply ships to north Africa were being captured or sunk by England. This occurred on an accelerated basis. You can't fight a war without supplies.

But, the key point that we seem to be debating is why Rommel was winning--he was simply a better general than Montgomery. Monty was the bonehead who forced Operation Market Garden down the throats of the allied high command, a poorly conceived strategy that got 10,000 men killed or captured, with all of their equipment lost. Rommel was the one whose tank division ran wild in France, during the 40 day defeat of the Third Republic, before being promoted to general.

It might also be that Germany had better tanks for sand use in the early desert war, better than what England had. Maybe the new British tanks were better than what Germany was using, better for warfare on hard sand? Hard to say. I've never heard anyone say that American or British tanks were better than what Germany was using during WWII. Perhaps there was some aspect of desert fighting that made the Brit tanks better for desert fighting? I don't know.

I wasn't implying that cracking enigma was the only factor in Rommel's defeat in North Africa, but it took away his ability to attack with surprise, which had carried the day for a year in North Africa, and drove the Brits almost all the way to Cairo.

You omit to mention that the American landings in north Africa put Rommel in a tight squeeze, and gave him even less room to maneuver. There was a point in North Africa where the Germans were outnumbered 20-1 in manpower. Subsequent victories are really nothing Bernard Law Montgomery should hang his hat on, IMO.

Perhaps the Windsors should have asked their Hohenzollern cousins to let up a bit?

Apr-19-15  devere: <Sneaky: And the kicker was the scene where Turing and his colleagues had to make a decision as to whether or not to act on decoded message regarding an attack on a English city. The dilemma was that if the Allies prevented the attack the Germans would know that their code was broken, but on the other hand one of the team had family in that city. These were real problems that the British military intelligence had to cope with, but they certainly weren't left up to Turing's group to decide. Once Turing's group was able to decode the messages their job was done.>

You are correct. That kind of decision was probably made by Winston Churchill.

Alan Turing was one of the primary innovators of computer science, and his name has been memorialized by the Association for Computing Machinery's A.M. Turing Award, which since 1966 has effectively served as the "Nobel Prize" in Computer Science.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Troller: <British historian David Irving> is a known WW2-revisionist. He also denies Holocaust. Luckily for him "historian" is not a protected title, as he never completed any education AFAIK.

He is knowledgeable on the Nazi Regime, but I would take his analysis with a grain of salt.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Willem Wallekers: His hobbies included chess and running.
Did nobody yet mention his other great invention: <Chess around the House>? You play chess at a table in the garden of a free standing house. After each move you run around the house.
Your opponent has to make his move before you're back in your seat.
May-30-16  wrap99: In a very extensive bio by Hodges, we read that Golombek could give Turing queen odds and win or when Turing had resigned in a position turn the board around and win. The latter is hard to believe but losing at queen odds I think mean Turing was like a 1500 player or worse.
May-30-16  Sally Simpson: Hi Sneaky,

Regarding the film yes the bits you mentioned were wrong although the analysts did have some input.

They asked that in some cases that warnings of a coming raid be delayed till after radar picked them up so the Germans would not suspect Bletchley were reading their messages.

The location of the Bismark was known to Bletchley. They asked the Navy to play a charade by sending up spotter planes in the known area so Bismark would message back they had been spotted by luck.

(Page 113. 'The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park')

A good nit pick in the film is Alexander saying he was twice British Chess Champion. True. He won it in 1938 But he did not win his 2nd title till 1956.

But the real sin of the film was having Turing not revealing who the spy was for fear that the spy (as he said he would) would tell the authorities that Turing was gay.

Turing would have been in deadly hot water for not outing the spy. He would certainly have been kicked of the project for being unreliable and unpatriotic. (He would have to do his mandatory two years for King and Country.)

That part of the film and it's dramatic license was a load of baloney.

Regarding the Pardon.

A lot of men were jailed for that 'crime'....where are their posthumous pardons?

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <niemzo: Ruben Fine's remarks make you realize what nonsense even intelligent people used to believe in the past. I wonder if things we now hold as common sense will seem so bizarre to future generations.>

Yes, of course. Unfortunately it will be the wrong things that will be seen as bizarre.

<sneaky> <sally>. I'm sure there was a lot of nonsense in the movie. I really doubt Alexander tried to take an axe to Turing's computer.

May-30-16  wrap99: <keypusher> read the book movie was based on, didn't see anything about an axe and given that they were both on a top-priority military project, damaging equipment like that might have gotten you hanged.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Were the prospective employees really quizzed by seeing how fast they can do the London Times crossword puzzle?
May-31-16  offramp: They were shut in a room with a complete set of Where's Wally books.

First one out got the job.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Well heck, even I could have ended up with an MBE.
May-31-16  Sally Simpson: Tommy Flowers, son of a brick layer, his name should really be more well known. Without him Turing & company would never have got very far. He built the first computer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: I thought the original machine that could break codes like Enigma was built by researchers in Poland, five years before Bletchley Park got to work?
Jun-01-16  Catfriend: <HMM> You're talking about the Bomba:

This was indeed built in Poland - but it wasn't a computer. It was a special-purpose machine, as opposed to the programmable Colossus.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: There's a TV show, maybe done by the BBC, that chronicles a fictional Bletchley Park type group, I think largely female, code breakers, set in the 1940s or '50s. It is available on Netflix. Does this show originate in England? Has anyone seen it? I saw an ad for it, but never looked at any of it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing has been revealed as the face of the new £50 banknote.>

He only got it because he was a homo!

Should have been Howard Staunton.

Jul-16-19  Sally Simpson: ***

They could have put him on the back of a nine bob note.


Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Historical figures on the reverse of British bank notes dates back to the 1970s. Before they put <Elizabeth Fry> on the £5 note in 2002, nobody knew who she was. Now all these years later, everybody's none the wiser.

But if it was a homo they were looking for, what about <William Shakespeare> as featured here?

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < MissScarlett: <World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing has been revealed as the face of the new £50 banknote.>

He only got it because he was a homo! >

Looks like Monopoly money. Perhaps there won't always be an England.

Jul-16-19  Sally Simpson: ***

<He only got it because he was a homo!>

No change there [a pun!], they usually have a picture of a queen on the notes.


<Elizabeth Fry>

Scotland will have the same trouble next year when they put Nancy Cranston (who she?) on the front of the new Scottish £20.00 note.

Apparently she started tea rooms...

(won't bother me I'm a married man I'll never be allowed to see or hold a £20.00 note.)


Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: <MissScarlett: <World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing has been revealed as the face of the new £50 banknote.>

He only got it because he was a homo!

Should have been Howard Staunton.>

Why not Daniel Gormally?
He took a blow for Britain and is definitely straight!

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Touring deserves a public apology from England's government, it should be delivered on the floor of Parliament, if this hasn't already been done. How many more British boats would have been sent to the bottom of the Atlantic without his cracking the German cryptography machine? They should make a public apology to all people who lost government jobs or were locked up for being gay.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: <HeMateMe: Touring deserves a public apology from England's government, it should be delivered on the floor of Parliament, if this hasn't already been done. >

Your activism comes too late. It has already been done.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: That's a relief! Maybe Brian Epstein can get his own coin or paper bill?
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