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Kasparov plays in a match against Turing's chess program

28 June 2012

Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov has completed a game of chess started more than 60 years ago by Alan Turing. For the first time in public, Mr Kasparov played a match against Turing’s chess program live on stage at The University of Manchester’s Alan Turing Centenary Conference. Although he won in just 16 moves, Mr Kasparov praised the prototype program called Turochamp, which was created by Turing without using a computer.

Turing, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday last Saturday, is considered to be the father of the modern computer. The conference was held as a celebration of his life and to show how his legacy has endured in the fields of computing and computer science.

As part of his lecture at the conference, Mr Kasparov, playing in black, took on the program that Turing had painstakingly written out by hand more than 60 years ago.

Turing designed his program to play semi-intelligently using rules of thumb to pick smart moves. He tried to implement his program in 1950 as soon as the Manchester Ferranti Mark 1 computer was constructed at the University, but never managed to finish the work.

Turochamp was designed to play two moves ahead, calculating the hundreds of potential moves available, whereas Mr Kasparov is more used to thinking at least ten moves ahead – which explains his simple victory.

Nevertheless, the Russian grandmaster was full of praise for Turing’s research. He said: “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.

“He wrote algorithms without having a computer – many young scientists would never believe that was possible. It was an outstanding accomplishment.

“Although it’s only thinking two moves ahead, I would have thought it would give the amateur player some serious problems.

“Alan Turing is one of the very few people about whom you could say that if he had lived longer, the world would be a different place.”

Mr Kasparov unveiled a plaque commemorating Turing on the building at the University where he used to work.

The video clip above is reproduced courtesy of

Further information about the Alan Turing Centenary Conference can be found here.

A complete video of the lectures from this conference will be available from

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