World War II hero and mathematician Alan Turing had a short-lived interest in gambling, as revealed by a previously unknown letter from him in 1933.
Winning roulette system or beginner’s luck
The seven handwritten page letter to Alfred Beuttell, the inventor of the strip lightning, is being auctioned off at Bonhams, London and is said to find a buyer for around £ 50,000 ($ 69,000) roulette gambling system that Beuttell personally used.
Beuttell, then 88, claimed he used the system in his years as a young man at the Grand Casino Monte Carlo and it turned out to be profitable by allowing him to live on the French Riviera for a month. but the curious 21-year-old Turing student at Cambridge University had his suspicions.
In the letter, which responded to Beuttell’s request for a comment on his system, Turing stated that the longer the system runs, the less chances of winning are. Turing examined the probabilities and concluded that the probability of winning decreases as the number of roulette spins increases from 150 to 1,520, 4,560 and 30,400.
Assuming that Beuttell used the system for a short period of time, Turing’s analysis indicated that success was due to novice luck rather than mathematically defined ones. And that happened more than a decade before he cracked the Nazi-German Enigma Code and made a significant contribution to the outcome of the war.
Contributions to the Second World War
A PhD mathematician from Princeton University, he became the center of a team of cryptanalysts at Hut 8, the division responsible for German naval cryptanalysis at Bletchley Park, and led the UK’s Ultra Intelligence code deciphering efforts during World War II.
Turing and his team played a key role in cracking intercepted encrypted messages between German submarines, ultimately cracking the Enigma machine cipher and hastening the end of the Third Reich and potentially saving many lives.
Turing’s fate worsened in 1951 when he admitted to being homosexual, which was considered a crime in Britain at the time. He was prosecuted for “gross indecency,” which left him one of two options: imprisonment or chemical castration, of which he chose the latter. Two years later, Turing committed suicide.
Alan Turing was publicly apologized by the UK government in 2009 and posthumously pardoned by the Queen in 2013.