Which was our April Fool's prank?

by ChessBase
4/4/2010 – On the first day of this month our readers expect us to produce a fake news report. We published three stories on April 1st, one about the Large Hadron Collider and the concern it has raised in some grandmasters; the possible exhumation of Fischer's remains; and the discovery that Magnus Carlsen was the second cousin of Hollywood actor Matt Damon. Did you guess right?

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Our first story brought us a wealth of interesting feedback letters, some of which are so detailled and so interesting that we are holding them back for later publication. As always we bring you a selection of letters, chosen by a semi-automatic process that is not dependent on the quality of the messages – so don't feel insulted if your well-worded and content-filled message does not appear below, while a number of trivial ones do.

We start with the first report on April 1st and the readers' feedback immediately after it appeared.

LHC goes online – chess grandmasters worried
01.04.2010 – On Tuesday, at 13:06h CEST, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland/France achieved the world's first seven tera electron volt collisions. It was a great moment in physics, but also a topic of discussion in GM circles for some years now. There is reason for their concern: could the LHC generate micro black holes that destroy the earth? Theories and explanations.

J.C., California, USA
Good one. Now I AM curious how the latest Deep Rybka would play on the CERN mainframe.

S.H., Kabul, Afghanistan
The LHC story was certainly something for an April 1st joke on a chess scale!!!!

J.L., Puchong, Malaysia
Grandmasters concerned about the Large Hadron Collider? Yeah, April Fool to you too.

V.S., Delhi, India
This definitely is April Fools special!!

K.M.L, Pune, India
Early in the morning on 1st April I wanted to see what spoof you had for today, and I was a little disappointed. Chukky with his queen variation on chess last year almost got me! This one is not at all convincing.

M.G., Perth, Australia
LoLs. C'mon ChessBase, the jig is up, I smelt this April Fools a mile away.

M.I., Sydney, Australia
I really liked your article on the LHC – it had me in stitches from start to finish! Happy April Fools!

D.F., Essen, Germany
You guys gotta be kidding. This (the LHC article) is so obviously an April 1st hoax. The Russian wooden bit is just a total giveaway too. But why on earth should such stuff appear on a CHESS news site, for goodness' sake?

A.S., Iasi, Romania
GMs concerned about CERN collider: hihi, nice April Fool's day joke!

Kishore, India
April Fool? Nein! How I wish you had a more deceptive and interesting story!

P.D., London, UK
Hahahaha. Good one! Happy April Fool's day.

E.B., Laguna, Philippines
LHC is a joke, har-har! Happy Fool's Day anyway...

E.M., Prague, Czech Republic
I certainly didn't know that April Fools has such a strong tradition in your country. Nice one tho, I liked the wooden CERN mostly.

J.N., Lesmahagow, U.K.
Hmmmm! wonder what today’s date is?

A.C., Singapore
Is this the most elaborate mixture of fact and fiction you have ever turned out for the tradition 1 April celebrations? I used to think that the British were elaborate hoaxers...

J.A.G., Bangor, UK
Ha Ha - Just realised your LHC article is April's fools. Yawn.

V.L., Poland
Fine joke. Only lack of GM Malakhov, the winner of the last European rapid chess championship, who is also a physicist.

G.K., Chicago
Visiting my father. Woke up early, and as he's still sleeping tried to keep quiet. BUT: burst out laughing at the Russian wooden collider. Another masterpiece! Keep up the bad work!

N.S., Swansea
Hi Fred and team! You have surely tried harder this year. I seriously don't know which one is a hoax! Fischer or LHC? Well done!

M., Saint-Maur, France
You know what? You guys should go fishing the first of May, for a change... Good try anyway. Keep it up!

L.K., Chester, NY USA
Those who fear that the LHC will produce black holes that destroy the earth should simply avoid equity. That way when the end comes, they will have lost no property. Do not be an owner, just be a renter.

So was it the April Fool's prank?

No it wasn't. Everything said in the article was perfectly accurate: the details of the LHD experiment and the first collisions, watched live by our group of friends and associates; the micro black hole discussion amongst grandmasters; the concern expressed by them; the proposed solution to Fermi's Paradox; yes, even the wooden Russian collider.

This is Magnus Carlsen, on the way from Biel, Switzerland, to Mainz, Germany, on August 1st 2008. We were rushing from the 41st Biel Chess Festival to the Mainz Chess Classic, and Magnus was supposed to catch some sleep on the train. But he took such keen interest in the question of the Large Hadron Collider creating micro black holes that could destroy the world that he stayed awake for most of the journey. We described the trip and the first round of the Rapid Chess World Championship in our report.

The above picture was taken on September 11th 2008 at 4:38 p.m. in a restaurant in Bilbao. At the table you can see Marina and Boris Spassky, Armenian GMs Levon Aronian and Gabriel Sargissian, Boris Radjabov, GM Teimour Radjabov. The subject of discussion at the end of the meal, when the picture was taken, was indeed the Large Hadron Collider and the danger of the micro black holes it might create.

Teimour Radjabov was the person who showed the greatest concern for the possible dangers of black holes being created and endangering the earth.

The above picture of physicist Vera Spillner talking to Aruna and Vishy Anand was taken at the Champions Dinner at the Mainz Chess Classic on August 2nd 2008 at 22:08h (thank heavens for the Exif information stored in these pictures). Vera was explaining how micro black holes could be created by hedron collisions, but that these posed no danger to mankind. In the meantime she has grown more critical, but after redoing all her calculations very carefully still thinks the chances are exceedingly remote.

Yisel Martinez, the girlfriend of Cuban GM Leinier Dominguez, is indeed a physicist and has, since the reported conversation we had with her at the closing dinner in Wijk aan Zee on February 1st 2009 at 9:15 p.m., actually worked for another term at CERN in Switzerland.

The Russian wooden Hadron Collider is real, as you can see in many pictures provided on this site. Its builder, Nikolay Polissky, is an artist who trades primarily in giant, incomprehensibly weird wooden sculptures. His intention in building this Large Wooden Hadron Collider wasn't to create something that captures its essence of the LHC at CERN. It is all explained in this video:

You need to speak Russian to understand all the details of planning and execution for the LWHC

So that was not the April Fool's joke. How about the second report.


Fischer’s remains to be exhumed?
01.04.2010 – After his death on January 17, 2008 an Icelandic court awarded Bobby Fischer's estate to his wife Miyoko Watai. Then Marilyn Young, Fischer's "Filipina live-in partner", filed a claim on behalf of her eight-year-old daughter Jinky, who she says was fathered by the former World Champion. Now it appears the case will be settled by the disinterment of Fischer's remains for DNA testing. Press release.

R.A., Neodesha, Kansas, USA
I think this joke was in extremely poor taste. Do you really believe Mr. Fischer's relatives think this is funny?

E.P., France Paris
I hope it's not again on Fischer... Can't you leave the man in peace after his death?

J.G., Huddersfield
This better not be April fool! Digging up the dead? That's no joke to his friends and family. Even if it's true, you should've delayed the report for a later date. Or at least put up a red label saying 'NNot an April Fool'. Take it down quick! Otherwise you're in for a torrent of angry mail.

D.J., Aylesbury, England
You were lucky to have the Fischer story as a distractor for your Fools Day offering. Vera Spillner is real and was at the Kramnik-Anand match and ChessBase reported her conversations with GMs. I doubt whether the after dinner conversation of Spassky et al was about the Collider and it is improbable that Radjabov is "quite concerned" about it, but the real spoof element is the wooden collider at the end of the article. It does indeed exist but is actually a work of art.

S.B., Osaka
Please do not simply publish a press release as if it is news. If it is April Fools stuff, it is in bad taste. And do not simply call someone 'the Japanese' as with Ms Watai. This is deeply offensive and borderline racist. Watch your step.

Another joke on April 1st about Fischer? Is your sense of humour so retarded that you can joke only about dead people? You didn't manage to create a story about Smyslov, but hey, maybe next year...

C.C., Lagos, Nigeria
Your article on the exhumation of Fischer's body reeks of the old 'April Fool' trick!

Was this a tasteless April Fool's joke?

No it wasn't. We received the letter from Samuel Estimo, the lawyer and Counsel of Jinky Young, who claims to be Fischer's daughter, on March 31st, during a time when our Internet provider, the German T-Online, had in its infinite wisdom chosen to take us offline for a period of 42 hours. We were only able to retrieve and publish Estimo's press release the next day.


Magnus Carlsen's cousin in America
01.04.2010 – Two weeks ago we published an interview by the German magazine Der Spiegel with Magnus Carlsen, with a picture that one of our readers found familiar. "He looks remarkably like my son," thought Professor Nancy Carlsson-Paige of Lesley University of Cambridge, Massachusetts. After a little research we discovered that the two are second cousins. Guess who the American relative is.

Douglas Wiggins, Lowell
Nice April Fool's Joke on Magnus looking like somebody in America, and the possibility of Fischer body being exhumed! Good one!

Pankaj Daga, London, UK
Geez! Another one! You guys are on a roll. So two stories this year: LHC worrying the chess players and Magnus & Matt!

Jake C., California, USA
I'll call the bluff. It's another well-worded prank article. Close... but that's it.

Ching Kim Lye, Malaysia
Magnus & Matt? What an obvious joke! lol.

Roger Bharath, Toronto, Canada
"April Fool's" right?!

Teng Soon,Lim, Malaysia
A real cute one. Too much of coincidence in story but not reflected that much in their face. Nearly passed by me until April 1 came to mind.

Sergiu Chirila, USA
This is a really good April 1st article. Magnus Carlsen related to Matt Damon LOL. I bet a lot of people will get fooled. Congratulations ChessBase. This was a good one. I'm looking forward to reading people's comments on this. Please publish them, it makes me laugh so hard every time.

James Conway, Christiansburg, USA
Nice try. Nancy Carlsson-Paige is the daughter of John Walter Paige and Margaret Johnson. Her maternal grandparents are Carl and Cecelia Carlson Johnson – here the exact genealogy [http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~battle/celeb/damon.htm]

Christian Sasse, Vancouver
I love it, well structured! So convincing for April fool's, LOL!!!! Thank you!

Marco Lantini, Italy
WOW! This is an incredible coincidence. was watching this film, "Good Will Hunting" just last week and said: "OMG, this actor seems to be the twin brother of Magnus Carlssen!" And now everything is clear thanks to ChessBase!

Vishaal Bhat, Udupi, Karnataka, India
Wow, didn't know they were going to make a film together. I mean Magnus Carlsen and Matt Damon, with Fischer's Remains no less in a Hadron Collider at that.

Wade Caughlin, Grande Prairie, Canada
HAHA I almost fell for this joke, only took me two minutes to realize it was April Fools!! Nice One!

Demetrios, Gatziolis
I have to admit it looks more truthful that the other April 1st stories you have published in the past.

Bibek Shrestha, CT, USA
Matt Damon is Magnus Carlsen's cousin? More like father. Hahahaha!!! What a feeble attempt at April 1. Bobby Fischer's news is genuine though.

Momchil Nikolov, USA
Hahaha, that's a good one. Happy April 1st.

Bhaskar Somanchi, Tampa, USA
I've been waiting for the April fool article. The LHC fears and Fisher's remains are genuine. So that leaves "Magnus Carlsen's cousin in America" as the hoax.

Pal G., Avondale, AZ
You had me going for awhile... Good one.

Kemal Budak, Houston, USA
Today, I logged on ChessBase with the expectation of a good April 1st joke, and as soon as I saw the news about Magnus and Matt I said to myself, "That is it." An April Fool's Joke should have a convincing aspect. This year you failed to do this. Next year I will be awaiting a better one. Bring it on!

Donovan van den Heever, Cape Town
April 1st hoax? Almost got me...

Luki Rocamora, NC, USA
It is indeed April's Fool Day, but nicely done!

Dr. Hilmar Alquiros, Aachen, Germany
Bravo! One of the best April Fools ideas ever – hahaha! Wonderful joke.

Andrew Plunkett, Orillia, Ontario, Canada
LHC, Fischer and Magnus and Matt all must be this year's rendition of the April Fools ChessBase blitz attack. I was ready for you this time.

John Bispham, Cambridge, UK
Nice selection guys!

Rémy Artinyan, Saint Etienne, France
Even if it were not 04/01 it would be hard to believe! Great one!

Shiv Mathur, Mumbai, India
Okay ... last year I guessed them all wrong. Today I'm guessing the wooden LHC and the Carlsen story. The Fischer one seems to be reported all over ... unless they all picked that up from your site!

Bret, Normal, IL, USA
A very interesting article that really Provokes a lot of thought. Really, who would-a thunk that Magnus is really the second cousin of the famous actor? Lots of people must be shocked over such a revelation HAD to be unexpected. Of course, we cannot quickly dismiss official-looking articles that make us laugh out loud, when we take into account suspicious findings that are published on April 1.

Helcio Pacheco, Campinas, Brazil
This year seems like the news about Magnus Carlsen and Matt Damon is the one. I actually believed in it when I first read! Then I remembered the long ChessBase tradition on this day.

Indeevar, Bangalore, India
Nice attempt guys:-) Keep the tradition going!!!

Robert Asmussen, Neodesha, KS, USA
Sorry for my mistake. I couldn't believe this story was real. I should have done a little googling first.

Mike Jaqua, Denver, CO, USA
Tough call this year. Which story is the joke? GMs worried about the LHC? Fischer to be dug up? Magnus the Magnificent related to Matt the Moronic? I'm gonna call the last one. The amount of genetic drift needed to have Matt and Magnus in the same family tree seems too great. But just in case: when they dig Bobby up, ask him how he feels about the LHC.

Pierre Noizat, Paris, France
It took me the full length of a millisecond to realize that this was your April Fools' day prank: nice try anyway.

Dean Arvidson, Los Angeles, CA
I thought wait for it, it's sure to come. The physics details in the LHC story are all accurate, and they wouldn't joke about exhuming Fischer's remains. But Magnus and his second cousin Matt! A perfect April 1 story, particularly since Matt's mother's name is indeed Nancy Carlsson-Paige! Well done!!!!!!

Zaki Niaz, Fresno, California, USA
Wow. Chessbase you did it again. This time you almost fooled me with this prank. Even giving the history of how the two brothers separated and one (Matt's grandpa) ended up in the US. I have to admit that there's some resemblance between Carlsen and Damon. Love your site. Keep up the good work. Perhaps next year you can fool me. Can't wait to see what you guys would come up with.

James Robertson, Seattle, WA
Happy April Fools! At first I couldn't figure out which of your news items was the joke - Magnus Carlsen being related to Matt Damon, or Fischer's body being exhumed? After a little thought though, I realized that the Carlsen/Damon story had to be the joke. Fischer being dug up as part of an intercontinental legal spat involving hidden gold is obviously more plausible. Nice try with the Carlsen story, though. Next April I'm sure we'll learn the truth that Fischer actually retired from chess to become a secret agent and then lost his memory, a la Jason Bourne. But that won't be quite a shocking as the revelation that his second cousin was Anna Nicole Smith, also known for her problems with caches of loot and relatives of questionable parentage.

Steve Goodman, Falls Church, VA
Nice job, guys! You kept it surprisingly plausible until the final joke about Matt Damon's next movie. Of course, Hollywood would turn that into a film about a mixed martial arts champion who singlehandedly wipes out a vast international terrorist organization. With lots of sex scenes and exploding helicopters.

Rick Aeria, Guam
April Fool!

James H., Elgin, IL
There are two stories that could have been made up by the masterminds at ChessBase. I'm thinking the one about Magnus' cousin is the one though. I can't wait to read some of the comments you get. Good job!

Big Alex, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I didn´t need even to read to realize that! You guys used to be much more creative before!

Lionel Nay, Lynn, Singapore
I am 110% sure it is an April fool joke.

Sanjay Padhee, UK
I am pretty confident that the story of relationship between Magnus Carlsen and Matt Damon is an April Fool's joke. Matt's maternal grandfather is not Sven Henrik Carlsen.

Neel Neelakantan, San Francisco, CA, USA
Nice, very nice... Obviously the "Magnus Carlsen's Cousin" is the April 1st news report. The other two stories (Fischer's remains and LHC) are most likely true! Keep up the good work. (To me, the "rat's brain" report a few years ago is still the best.)

Thiamhee Lai, Penangm Malaysia
This must be April Fools joke. And I think I know where the source comes from. A few weeks back, some posters commented that he looks like Matt Damon.

Daniel Brandão, Florianópolis
Very, very funny. I could bet this is one more 1st April Jokes, isn't it? Some time ago that story about Fischer helping other players almost caught me! Anyway, thank you for citing my name in your pages, I really appreciate that. Best regards and best luck for all of us in case of an LHC disaster.

Slickfish, USA
Excellent April Fool's story - I was believing it until the Matt Damon part.

Angel Segarra, Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Seems plausible but... Damon is not shooting a movie about a Shogi chess champion. This isn't a very good prank.

Srinath, India
Your persistent follow-up to dumb similarity between Mag and Matt finally ends up in stupendous hilarity...
First time I've experienced something like this! Excellent choices of photos; exacerbates the likeness by stating "people in similar poses look similar".

Shivkumar Shivaji, Fremont, USA
The Magnus story is a hoax but I was surprised that the other stories have some factual grounds.

T.D., Pretoria, South Africa
Indeed, a search reveals that Matt Damon is a son of Nancy Carlsson-Paige. Normally I would not have checked, but the fact that the story was posted on the 1st of April made me check. So the only April fool stunt was the story about chess players pondering the inticacies of black holes!

K.N.R., Hyderabad, India
Really I am surprised to see this article regarding Magnus Carlsen's cousin. Just last week I watched Bourne Identity II (a few months back I watched the first part), and at the time I was telling my friends that Matt Damon is very much similar to our number one Magnus Carlsen. They agreed. Today suddenly I felt very very happy to find that Magnus Carlsen and Matt Damon are cousins. I thank ChessBase very much bringing this investigative and happy news to chess players all over the world.

Karl Dunness, Brisbane, Australia
Aaah, guys. Take a few years off from the April's fools....

Carlito Agner, Raleigh, NC
Nice April Fools Day special. But you have made me smarter since you got me on the Kasparov training one some time ago.

Priyank Shukla, Gainesville, USA
Magnus and Matt are second cousin. Wow, that's a good April Fool. You guys are the best...

I.J.S-I., Northampton, Massachusetts, USA
I must say this time the April fool's wasn't that "fooling". It was clear that the three news items posted were all a hoax. Maybe next time you should also include real news.

Paul Ruffle, Westgate-on Sea, England
I'd like to hope that this is your April 1 hoax. If it were to be the Bobby Fischer story that would be in poor taste.
Actually I think the Magnus + Matt story could also be a candidate for the April 1 hoax. If so well done. I like it. I repeat my hope that the Bobby Fischer story is not a fake.

Alexander Jablanczy, Sault Ste Marie
Ha ha ha. Nice try the second hoax in as many days. No, the chess player and actor aren't related, nor do they resemble one another in any way. The date is April 1st.

Alfonso Ansó Rojo, Zaragoza, Spain
Very interesting! I've just read in Wikipedia: "Matt Damon was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Kent Telfer Damon, a stockbroker, and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood education professor at Lesley University. Damon is of English, Scottish, Finnish, and Swedish ancestry, and is a distant cousin of actor Ben Affleck." So, is Magnus related too to Ben Affleck?

Frank Dixon, Kingston, Canada
I notice this article was published on April 1. Is this ChessBase.com's April Fool's joke for 2010!? Ha Ha!

José Montes de Oca, Baní, Dominican Republic
Ha, ha. This year you didn't catch me, guys! Happy fool's day! Very funny: next film is going to be "Carsen Supremacy"

Brian Theismann, Inver Grove Heights, MN USA
What on earth is going on there? Which of the April 1st stories were pranks?

Brian Esler, Portland, OR
Nice try guys! Read this article on the morning of April Fools day, and made it nearly all the way through the thing without realizing it was a prank. Just plausible enough to string me along (the resemblance IS remarkable), but ridiculous enough so I sure felt stupid when I realized. In my opinion, your best prank yet!

Link: New England Historic Genealogical Society link (provided by multiple readers)
Genealogical Chart Knowlton Line of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (PDF)

So this was the April Fool's prank?

Right – everything in the report was fabricated. Naturally Prof. Nancy Carlsson-Paige exists and is the mother of Matt Damon. But her father was certainly not "Sven Henrik Carlsen", the brother of Kurt Magnus Carlsen, who actually is Magnus's father. And so, naturally, Magnus and Matt have not been in touch with each other, Matt is not starring in a movie about a Shogi champion who inspires a nation to put aside its differences and unite (as in Invictus), and he will most likely not be visiting the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø. Sorry if you are deeply disappointed.

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