Game makers to release Alan Turing Monopoly game

By Keith Stuart, The Guardian
Monday, September 10, 2012 11:17 EDT
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Life-sized Monopoly protest via Gwoeii / Shutterstock.com
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Alan Turing, it turns out, had a theory about Monopoly. Fascinated by data patterns and algorithms the father of modern computing was convinced that there was a code-based tactic to playing and winning at the board game.

When he discovered that the son of brilliant mathematician Max Newman had drawn his own version of the board, Turing rushed round to test his theories. And promptly lost. Even the man who helped crack the Enigma machine couldn’t ensure victory at this most capricious of family games.

To commemorate this moment, and to celebrate the life of Britain’s computer science and technology hero, custom board-game maker Winning Moves has produced a special Alan Turing Monolopy set.

Devised by the Bletchley Park trust and by Max Newman’s Monopoly-loving son, William, the board replaces houses and hotels with huts and blocks, the names given to buildings within the Park complex. Spaces on the board will all feature locations import in Turing’s life, including his birthplace (Warrington Crescent in Maida Vale) and Sherborne school, which has just opened an Osborne Turing Suite in its mathematics department. Community Chest and Chance cards have also been revised, while utilities are replaced by the Enigma Machine and Bombe, the device used to decipher Engima codes. Turing’s face appears on all the money in the game – a nod toward the current petition to get him on the £10 note.

“Bringing this board to life has been one of the most exciting and unique projects we’ve been involved with here, and we’re thrilled to see it finally available for others to enjoy,” said Iain Standen, CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust. “This edition really completes the fantastic story of the board, from it being played on by Turing (and his losing on it), to it going missing and then being rediscovered and donated to the museum here. Of course, we’re also very proud that Bletchley Park adorns the ‘Mayfair’ square.”

Google, which marked what would have been Turing’s 100th birthday with a code-inspired Doodle has paid for the production of the first 1,000 boards. The set will also include a reproduction of William Newman’s modified version, complete with a channel of squares crossing the centre from the Go square to Free Parking.

The game is being released this November, and will initially be sold via the Bletchley Park store, which is taking pre-orders here. A Christmas present, perhaps, for the cryptographist in your life.

© Guardian News and Media 2012

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