April 3rd: Malcolm Pein not running for FIDE President

by Frederic Friedel
4/3/2017 – It was an April Fools' prank, as most of our readers quickly recognized. Pein, a harsh critic of the current FIDE leadership, had no role in the power struggle that is taking place in Athens. And no intention of running for FIDE President, as was claimed in the wholly invented interview we published on April 1st. Although: the idea is not completely out of hand. With his connections and organisational skill... But that is just a dream.

Fake interview with the presidential candidate

The cover of the April 2017 issue of CHESS (left) was not completely accurate. The real April issue, which has just been released, is shown on the right.

Similarly the picture with Malcolm sitting behind the FIDE Presidential Board, "pulling the strings", was deviously Photoshopped.

Here is the relevant section of the orignal, published on Ilyumzhiunov's Twitter page.

We apologize for the fake news – the April Fools' joke has a long tradition on our news page. – here's what we did last year. As we said there:

We are close to abandoning our April Fool's pranks in the future. Over the years – over close to two decades, actually – it has become progressively more difficult for us to construct stories that do what they are supposed to do: fool as many people as possible and be entertaining. Of course it is trivially easy to fulfil the first criterion: "ChessBase to manufacture bottled drinks" is something nobody can easily check. But it is not funny.

We believe we have succeeded in the second criterion fairly well in the past: we produced a gaudy, blinking news page (for a full day) in 2011, and told of the discovery that Matt Damon was the second cousin of Magnus Carlsen in the year before that. However, the task of actually fooling people has become progressively more difficult. On April 1st armed insurgents, equipped with advanced Google searches and massive forum discussions, attack our news page and post forum messages telling everybody what the April joke was and how easily they had recognised it.

So we started hiding the prank behind fake jokes, i.e. publishing reports that sounded fairly outrageous but were perfectly true. Take for instance April 1st 2010: we started with an article telling about how grandmasters were worried about the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland/France. Later in the day we reported that authorities in Reykjavik had decided to exhume Fischer body to extract DNA in a paternity suit. Both reports were perfectly true. Then finally the Carlsen-Damon report mentioned above. It was interesting for us to see the successive tsunamis of letters strike our mail box after each report appeared on the news page.

This year we decided to keep it simple: just funny, with little attempt to actually fool anybody. Except maybe a few FIDE officials who probably felt their coronary arteries for a moment when they opened the news page. Apologies to them. Remember, we are not the only ones engaged in the pagan practice. Here are a few examples from this year, some of which are seriously funny.

2017 April Fool pranks

Alamo's Self-vacationing Fleet: Autonomous vehicle technology, as envisioned by this rental car company, shows us how your vacation in the future will be planned and organized by the car that takes you there.

Quilted Northern's uSit: The toilet paper has a device that keeps track of your bathroom habits ("uSit records all your sits, including frequency, duration and exertion levels"). And because nothing is real until it hits social media, uSit lets you share the information with friends, even compete with them ("Sit socially, and tell your friends about badges you earn meeting daily goals").

T-Mobile Onesie: After Google Glass, Smartwatches and Snapchat Spectacles, T-Mobile is introducing the next Wearable, a combination of technology and fashion, the "complete fitness tracker ever created". Reminds us of our own Google Tooth report two years ago.

IKEA's new Småland: IKEA Singapore posted on Facebook that it is upgrading its in-store playground, getting rid of the run-around activity in favor of sitting pods with tablets. "Studies of children's play habits reveal that today's kids prefer tablets to physical activity."

End of YouTube: Google announced this four years ago. Apparently YouTube was a gigantic contest to find the best video, and an eight-year submission period that has finally ended. People are encouraged to watch as many videos as possible "before YouTube deletes everything tonight." It goes dark for a period to give thousands of judges time to go through all the uploaded material and find one winner. That video will be the only video on the site when YouTube relaunches in 2023.

Google Maps Ms. Pac-Man: Originally a prank, launched in 2015, Google Maps stuck with it: click the little icon on the bottom left, which currenly reads "Insert coin", you can play the game Ms. Pac-Man in the location of your choosing (the streets around your house?).

Hu – TV appreviated: The human attention span has dropped to eight seconds, less than a goldfish. Hulu, the American subscription video service (similar to Netflix) is offering current series episodes, originals, exclusives, news in eight to fifteen second bites.

Triwa DIY watch: To minimize freight and production cost, and offer a competitive retail price, the company has launched a series of DIY watches called YNGVE. The DIY (Do It Yourself) package includes quartz movement parts, watch case, battery, glass, dial, hands, crown and strap. It also includes the tools needed for assembly such as Allen key and loupe.

All Google April Fools Day pranks: It is not easy to keep track of the ones that are worthy of your attention. Google, in particular, is known for rolling out a ton of different pranks. Most of them are actually pretty funny, and they are localized to each Google product or regional team. Check out Google Wind (Holland), Google Bubble Wrap keyboard (Japan), the Chromebook selfie stick, Google Gnome, Google Translate can now handle Heptapod B (from Arrival). Those are our favourites – there are more, and the page is being constantly updated.

And if you can't get enough, here are dozens and dozens more in this Telegraph collection.


Editor-in-Chief of the ChessBase News Page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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KevinC KevinC 4/4/2017 01:55
Sorry, this one was not even remotely funny, and considering it was the only story that day, not hard to pick out.
Salimu Salimu 4/4/2017 02:18
Got me Fred!
calvinamari calvinamari 4/4/2017 04:51
Obviously too good to be true. I mean, a FIDE leader who is devoted to chess, has succeeded in garnering legitimate private sponsorship, and not a puppet of the Russian federation? Pure fantasy.
fons fons 4/4/2017 05:47
These examples are a scary reflection of the times.

Massive invasions of privacy. Humans reduced to passive sacks of "organic material" along for the ride. No need to think. Everything decided for you. Addicted to technology. Monopoly of Google and YouTube conditioning you into an obedient ADHD afflicted drone slobbering for the next 8 second fix.

The Triwa DIY watch was cute though.
chessta chessta 4/4/2017 01:42
I agree with KevinC. Not remotely funny and stupid in the extreme....if you want any good one's for next year get in touch with me!
Matthias Matthias 4/4/2017 11:22
I fell for it because I believed Malcolm could pull it off.
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