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Famed gay computer scientist Alan Turing honored with Monopoly edition

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
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BLETCHLEY PARK, U.K. — Alan Turing, a mathematician and World War II codebreaker widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, and who committed suicide in 1954 after being sentenced to chemical castration because he was gay, has been honored with his own edition of the popular board game Monopoly.

Lynette Webb, Senior Manager for Google’s External Relations in Europe, along with Iain Standen, CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust, announced the whimsical tribute this past weekend.

In the Turing Monopoly edition, the board’s London landmarks, and its Community Chest and Chance cards, have been swapped for places and events important in Turing’s life. Players can move their pieces from his birthplace in Maida Vale to Hut 8 at Bletchley Park.

Google purchased 1,000 of the sets and donated them to Bletchley Park to help raise funds. The board of the special edition is based on a hand-drawn variant of Monopoly created by William Newman in 1950. William was the son of scientist Max Newman, who was a key figure in Turing’s life.

As the box set booklet describes:

“William had drawn the original board to play upon with his brother, basing the squares around important parts of Cambridge. He also added a few unique twists… including a line which went from Go to the Free Parking square, and a ‘turn around’ square which allowed you to change direction…

One afternoon the Newman household phone rang, with Turing on the other end, asking to speak with William. ‘Did he have a Monopoly board?’ Alan asked, and on hearing that he did, raced round. Turing’s mind was fascinated with codes, and there have long been suggestions he thought there were code-based tactics to playing Monopoly to ensure success.

Alas, the hand drawn nature of William’s board (not to mention the unique diagonal straight and ‘turn around’ square) proved otherwise, and the great mathematician was beaten.”

Willliam’s hand-drawn version was thought to have been lost but was rediscovered in 2011 and donated to the Bletchley Park museum soon after.

“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 Standen.

“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!” he said.

This edition is sold by gaming company Winning Moves UK under licence from Hasbro.

Turing who was also honored in June on what would of been his 100th birthday with a Google “Doodle,” a blog post and the opening of a major exhibition sponsored by Google honouring his life and legacy.

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