Allan Scarff

With regret we report that Allan Scarff, pioneer Go programmer, died from cancer on 9th December 2011, aged 65.

Allan first came across Go in 1969, when working as a programmer with NCR in Dundee, from a Pure Science student friend, Phil Bristow. Go immediately captured his interest and he was soon teaching it to anybody and everybody, including his family, of whom son Christian still plays regularly.

In 1970, with a wife and three children to support, he got a job with ICL in Reading, and joined the existing Go club which he helped run for some years whilst reaching dan level. He left ICL in 1983 to work for himself, but stayed in Reading.

Allan had what he called a cellular automaton idea to produce a Go program which could run on a small PC like BBC Acorn. Microgo1 came on the market in 1984 and Microgo2 followed; it won places in various competitions between 1985 and 1989. BPS IGO for the Nintendo sold 140,000 copies in Japan.

In 1990, Allan and his wife Liz moved to Newcastle upon Tyne, where he continued to play Go, at Newcastle Go Club, and continued to research Go theory, publishing his Global Connectivity Strategy in 2000, and to investigate artificial intelligence and how a Go-learning program might operate, working on the specification for an Acolyte Neural Net System.

Last updated Thu May 11 2017. If you have any comments, please email the webmaster on web-master AT britgo DOT org.