Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Imitation Game, Hugh Alexander and Jack Good

David Boyle blogs about The Imitation Game, the new film about Alan Turing that stars Benedict Cumberbatch.

Looking at the IMDB entry for the film, I am drawn less to the names of the actors than to the names of the real figures they are playing.

Harry Golombek, who mentioned Turing to me when I met him 30 years ago (in the days before everyone had of Turing), does not feature, but two of his fellow chess players who were at Bletchley Park do.

One of the leading characters is Hugh Alexander. I once quoted an article about him by Dominic Lawson.

Following a short spell in civvy street after the war, Alexander became head of cryptanalysis at GCHQ. He was also Britain's top chess player for much of the period between 1933 and 1958, all but held his own against Soviet grandmasters and would have done even better
were it not for the fact that Britain would not allow Alexander to play either behind or even anywhere near the Iron Curtain, so valuable did they believe the contents of his brains would be to our Cold War foes.
And you will also see I.J. "Jack" Good, a strong player who emigrated to America.

I remember preparing a letter from him, containing deep analysis of Andressen's Immortal Game, for publication during my first post-university job with Chess of Sutton Coldfield.

But enough about me. Here is the trailer for the film...


Frank H Little said...

> 30 years ago (in the days before
> everyone had of Turing)
Some of us who read the late Donald Michie's column in Computer Weekly in the 1970s (largely dealing with artificial intelligence) were well aware of Alan Turing. Michie reckoned that Turing was a lousy chess-player, by the way.

Frank H Little said...

I can match your degree of separation with Turing, too. My late father-in-law supplied what would now be called a peripheral for Turing's Pilot Ace computer when both worked at NPL.