'Please don't touch my hippothingy!'

4/2/2003 – That was the kind of rejection we got from some readers to yesterday's news story on a bionic chess interface (which was repeated in Slashdot). The report was not completely true. First of all the release date ("the beginning of the next year") was inaccurate – Fischer and Ivanchuk are already testing implants. And apparently there are a lot of rats playing chess already – on the chess servers. More feedback.

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Reader feedback

Derek Grimmell, Ph. D.
You guys and your April Fools' jokes! I am a neuropsychologist, and pretty quickly I realized you were "pulling my leg," but it was a fun article to read nonetheless. I especially enjoyed the cleverly-spliced photograph, with the little rats. Do you stimulate the pleasure center each time they play a good move? Keep us smiling -- we in the USA have little enough to laugh about these days!

Brian Stewart
Ver-r-r-r-y funny! I fell for the retractor thing last year, but this time I had my defense shields up. Entertaining reading, nevertheless. Do you spend all year thinking these things up?

Robert C Gerber
And a pleasant April 1st to you too!

Telemachos
good one :) The picture with the Fritz board was a great touch.

Pete Cilento
Nice April Fool's joke. This section, however, really gave it away: "However it is interesting to note that animals that have the interface installed and are connected with the external chess chip will show a clear interest in a chess board placed within their range of vision (see picture above). This does not apply to rats who have not been so treated.

Jon Fred
Mr. Friedel, Explain, please, how you can be so sure that "we [won't] have the first working prototypes for human subjects ready before the beginning of the next year." Fellow down the street works for DARPA; says he's a janitor but he would, wouldn't he? I tried to play chess with him a couple of years ago but gave it up when he insisted he'd taken my queen en passant. Then last week I run into him at the mall. We stop to chat and he suddenly becomes strangely agitated.

"Could you please not stand on that particular tile?" he asks, pointing to the floor. "Why?" I ask. "Because," he says, "if the old lady in the Dolly Parton wig takes one step backwards while you're still there, I'm mated in forty-two." Since then there have been further indications. Just this morning, he telephoned to ask if I would move my car twenty feet forward or back: it didn't matter where, "so long as it's not pinned by that mailbox." Waiting his next move with mounting foreboding.

Daniel
Good. But not as good as "The Fischer Move".

Logallo
Very good joke! Better than the one of the last year (the one about Fischer new innovation of replay the mistake move)!

Victor Graham
Is the chip going to be programmed to play games with the new Fisher Retractor Move rule?

Carlos Adán, Madrid
Hi, nice report on bionic chess, but I'm afraid you have obsolete information: A couple of years ago, Rumanian scientific doctor Cagan Porelanu succesfully experimented with bio-chess by inserting an specific chess chip into his assistant's brain. The project was named Chess Rational Interface Supporting Auxiliar Neurons, a.k.a. C.R.I.S.A.N. It was succesful for some months until the performance of the prototype was forced to very tough environments, resulting in a overcharge that destroyed most of the implanted chip circuits.

Immanuel Singuillo
dear chessbase, its interesting to know that the idea of chess chips being possibly imbedded to human intelligence is being explored. However, people should stop this... or any other similar artificial gadgets that makes humans semi-machines or something... i strongly disagree in amalgamating humans or even animals w/chips such as what you had just described. It is so appalling for the chessbase web site to be kind of encouraging this inhumanity. I'm so disappointed that you have written a whole long article about this and still be so unconvincing even from your title alone and your first lines.

Patrick Neal
After intensive study of your hypothesis, I have only one thing to say: April Fool's But I must admit that you really had me going until that rat reference.

Lu A. Tahmazyan, Los Angeles
Extremely interesting and thought provoking article but it does not say what the status of the Brutus is. Also, you forgot add "April Fools: " prefix to the title of the article l ;-)

Carl Bicknell
It's a shame they abandoned the first project, I was really looking forward to owning a powerful chess card - this new one looks rather pointless, what am i surposed to do turn into the Borg or something?

Gerard Smith
Haha. It would be cruel to name those who fall for it :-)

Lucio Luigi Vitagliani
A good Avril fool's ;-)

Gabi Julien, Montreal, Canada
No way! You got me last year about the Fischer takeback move, you wont get me this time! Please don't touch my hippothingy.

Richard Maclannan
Interesting... Though my attention was rather too absorbed by the date at the top of the article. Perhaps there should be a "Rat vs. Human" challenge soon.

Jack L. Thomas
I was into the fourth paragraph before I realized it was April 1. Great gag story!

Graham Sorgard
Hmmm. You had a full year to come up with a great April Fool's column and that was the best you could do? You guys are slipping.

Michalis Kaloumenos, Athens
It is quite interesting to continue experimenting with rats in order to create chess playing rodents. I'd like to encourage Mr. Donninger to this aspect, because I can see potential profit in this field too: pet shops selling our chess rats to every family that wishes to hire a chess trainer for their little genius. Chess rats cost almost nothing for keeping them alive and we could make up a fortune. Chess tournaments among rats and the creation of the R(at)ELO rankings, could also rise the price of certain rodents to unexpected heights. We can advertise our enterprise with TV spots, using the King of Mice theme from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, or even attract the Disney company as a potential investor or strategic shareholder to our plans. In the end, imagine Mr. Kasparov changing faces in a crumbed position against a rodent opponent.

Henri Arsenault
I disagree with the statement that the rats with the implants cannot play chess - I have played against some of them on the Intenet...

Gary S.G. Bryant
I already have one implanted.

Jonathan Bone
Happy April 1! Perhaps next April Fools Day, the interface can be implanted in Mig Greengard. This will finally allow him to play Internet chess at GM strength and chat wittily at the same time, something he's only half accomplished to date :-)

Dave Bland, London
April Fools. Very nice ;-)

Osmosis Jones
Good one! :-D Maybe next year you should try claiming Kasparov is an alien! :-)

Piotr Nestorow
Great prima aprilis stuff!!! Good article ha ha ha...

Wolff Morrow, Denton, TX
When I read the part about rats being "attracted" to chess boards after the chip implant, I began to actually "smell" the rat in question. Still, I can see the chip implant being a possibility at some point in the future. They've already made chip implants for eyes, so it's not a huge leap to start thinking about chess chips in the brain.

Paul Siegel
Hilarious April Fools

Stephen Sienczyk, Wales
Thanks for your very interesting and amusing article. Very nicely done. Happy April fools day.

Michel Devathaire
I wonder why they make so much effort to make it work with a rat. They should look inside Fisher's hippocampus, I'm sure they could find a well tested version of this type of chip and electrodes...

Jes Knudsen, Denmark
As usual a very nice 1st of April joke. By the way: When will the rats participate in tournaments ?

Jens Stein
What a giveaway! I mean, putting this very interesting article right next to the one about Chucky: he must have been secretly beta testing this thing for years! It just figures: The inward, withdrawn stare, the usually exceptional blind play (although last firmware update didnt seem so successful)... the humming of Ukrainian folk songs (rather strange that, but then my windows always pops up unwanted messages too).

On the market next year, you say? I'm game! I heard, beginning of April is a good time to do the implant (must've something to do with the testosterone, it being spring and all). I'd be a fool not to do it. No more terrible blunders, no more stepping out to the john every other move to consult PocketFritz- just blazing victories (plus a huge reservoir of Ukrainian folk songs). Can't wait.

Thanks so much for keeping me up to scratch on the latest developments in chess and computers,

Frank N. Stein
I am writing in regard to a disturbing article my research staff has recently brought to my attention, published on Chessbase.com on 4/1/03. Apparently, Dr. Donninger and other employees of Chessbase have been engaging in rodent testing of a hippocampal interface for chess software. Regrettably, I am obliged to inform you that this work most likely infringes on patents held exclusively by my company, Hairy Chess Ltd., for the application of wetware-hardware interfaces to the ages-old problem of effective cheating in chess. I am hoping this matter can be resolved informally through consultation between our higher-ups, but I have asked our legal staff to prepare motions of extreme grace and prejudice should that prove necessary. Who knows, perhaps some cooperation can be established between our two fine business entities? In any case, a pleasant April First to you!

Torstein Hall
April 1. is a very nice day for people with a creative mind... Nice try, but a bit obvious?

Antonio Prados, Sevilla, Spain
A good April 1st joke!

Stephane Goerlinger
Nice funny April fish! What chessbase did not know is that some IGM already have similar chips
actually implemented in their brain!

Stéphane Desnault
How very impressive! How great! Soon we'll see bionic chess players engaging in Super-blitz 10-seconds games that will have all the hallmarks of a Tal-Petrosian game! The speed of electronics coupled with the pattern matching prowess of our biological brain, what an achievement. I volunteer for human trial, once experiments on animals are successfully completed. Is it reasonable to expect that about a year from now, around April fool's day 2004? Best regards, and thanks for an entertaining read!

Stephen Connor
I was very interested to read your article about the special chess playing chip. I am though a bit worried that this sort of technology could have adverse side effects. It is a well known fact that an earlier primitive version of this technology was what drove Bobby Fischer mad and is also responsible for the dramatic mood swings (facial grimaces etc) of Gary Kasparov. With this in mind I would strongly advise you that this product should come with a government health warning. Just look at what happened to H.A.L when he was taught how to play chess!! One minute he is a docile on board computer, the next thing he wants to kill the entire crew. I am also deeply suspicious that if someone were able to encode a virus into such a programmable chip you could have tens of thousands of chessbase customers wandering around muttering the latest openings variations to themselves whilst inexplicably humming the Britney Spears tunes. Who knows though perhaps by next April 1st the technology will have been perfected and we will all be wearing them. God only knows I need one !!! :-)

DAlSault
Cute April Fool joke. I read the story with fascination before it struck me that nobody would try such a thing seriously. Very well done though.

Guillaume Adenier
thanks for the joke. Last year joke was far more convincing, I doubt anyone will buy that one. I far more prefer the article on Ivanchuk! Keep up the good work.

Matthew Tapp
I predict a great future for the bionic chess interface - in fact I think it will capture the imagination of the chess world in much the same way as the Fischer Retractor move did last year! Not terribly subtle, is it guys?

Jonathan O'Connor
May I wish you a bionic April 1,

Omid David Tabibi
LOL! Happy April Fool's Day folks :-) "Bionic interface"...! Couldn't you come up with a crazier idea?!

Simon Kirk
Well, I thought it was funny anyway! :) No April fool here!

Arifur Rahman, Sweden
Haha, April Joke. Very well worked and serious joke indeed. I will tell you what made me think that it was a joke without reading the article fully. It was the last sentence: "Mail us....". Skip that next time, then you will fool even more people! People will bother you with their smart ass comments anyway, :-). We chessplayers are smart you know, ;-).

Guy Haworth
Nice try, Frederic - I wonder what the date is?!

Derek Jones
Another excellent April 1st joke in what is becoming a Chessbase tradition!

Timp Saddle
Hi I find this study very interesting. Could it be that people can use this chess chip to become grandmasters? If so I will be glad to do human testings on myself for free!

Chris Taylor, Notts, England
I think this article is looking a little dated, like todays date!! The Borg have been there, done that, wore out the tee-shirt.

Michael Alderson, Derby UK
I must admit I read the whole article BEFORE realising what the date was...

Bas West, Netherlands
What a great advance in computer technology! This date will be remembered by generations to come as the day that this technology was first revealed to the world. April 1, 2003 will be... uhm... now wait a minute! :-)

Javier Marcelo
Lol. I always enjoy April 1st. Very good joke, folks. Although I've dreamed of having Fritz implanted in my brain a lot of times. It'd be great!!!. LOL.

Aldert-Jan Keessen
April fools, I gess? Nice one, but a little obvious... Connecting a computer to the human brain, that will still take a while!

Matt Rose, Oxford
I have recently replaced my pet hamster's straw bedding with torn up copies of BCM and New In Chess and have rigged up their pellet dispenser so that they only get fed when they press the button on a Digital Game Timer. Obviously this is early days but I am already noticing a certain listlessness in their behaviour which, in my experience, is typical of strong chess players.

Leontxo García, Spain
Congratulations! That’s extremely interesting. Please, keep me updated. If understand well, the combination of a powerful interface installed in the brain and some special glasses would allow us to be permanently connected to Google, a powerful calculator, etc. Is that right?

Goeff Marchant
Is it an April Fool?? I hope not! My compliments to you on your fantastic website, which I visit almost every day.

Arie Haenel
ROFL, nice 1st april joke. I print it immediately and put it on my desk cupboard!

Max Devereaux
Nice April Fool's day joke guys... A little bit too far out there though I think... not sure I would have fallen for it even if I hadn't already been sat at my computer thinking about what jokes I was going to play on my work colleagues this morning...

Icebear
Good one. I was believing this. You should not have run the article on last year's joke regarding taking back moves so recently. Then I would not have had a clue.

Phillip Bond, San Francisco, CA
Not nearly as good as last year's April Fool's Day story. Last year you had me fooled for a while! Thanks for maintaining the best chess site on the web. Mig is awesome - a very clever, very entertaining writer. Great tournament coverage. Comprehensive chess news and rumors. You're my home page.

Scott McCargar
Frederic, this article is a fine piece of work. It's much more ambitious than last year's piece, yet despite its size and complexity, it still retains the internal consistency that is critical for this sort of story. Very clever.

Timmothy Lannister
Hahaha. Nice joke guys. Even better then the 'fischer move' of last year. I' m waiting for the one of next year.

Aydin Parmaksiz from Turkey
Very good April's fool story. Your imagination is wonderful but story is unbelievable. In my opinion The most funny part is: "Obviously the rats are not able to play chess, or even execute a single legal move... However it is interesting to note that rats that have the interface installed and are connected with the external chess chip will show a clear interest in a chess board placed within their range of vision."

Joanne Pittaway
Oh, you wags. I don't know what I find the funniest. The chess-interested rats or the fact that: "We expect the total information flowing through the interface for each 'seek' will be about 32 bits, at the very most 64." However, if some brainy boffin ever really does take it upon themselves to come up with a chess chip, I will happily volunteer for the clinical trials. But only if I can take on Garry Kasparov and whip his hairy bottom. Hope you have lots of fun with this today guys. And if such a phrase exists then, 'Happy April Fools' Day' to all of you.

Luc St-Laurent, Montreal, Canada
You will never change. April First. April fools day. Not subtle enough. Nice try...

Eugene Curtin
Excellent April fools! I enjoyed it very much.

Jerry Snitselaar
Hehe, one of the better April Fool's jokes I have seen in a while. :)

Ashwin Phatak
Happy April Fool's Day!!! :-) Please do remember that people who visit your site are not all that stupid.

Stephen W Gordon
AHHHHH. April's fools again?!

Dr. Miguel Zialcita, Milledgeville, GA
I think I like last year's April Fool's joke better - but then again, I wasn't expecting it last year. I love your site anyway and visit it everyday. More power to you guys. You add a lot of fun to chess - as if it is not a lot of fun for me already!

Terry McCracken
Not bad! April Fool's to you too! It's almost believable;-)

Dave, Oregon, USA
This is why April Fool's Day is one of my favorite holidays. Nice job!

William Hoggarth
Sorry Chessbase, I wasn't convinced for a moment. Nice try though. I think an article on the real progress of the Brutus project would be far more fascinating.

Philip Dunscombe
A bionic chess interface or cheat master 8000, Nice Joke guys.

Louis Stoeger, USA
Ha! its still March 31st where I live, and I caught this for what it is before I was 1/4th of the way through! Good try though, I'll be interested to see how many people wail in anguish that this will kill chess. Very well thought out, and if I were not a medical professional I may have fallen for it. I truly enjoy you website always something interesting.


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