Adafruit’s Cheekmate Gets To The Bottom (ahem) Of Chess Cheating Controversy


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The smart folks at Adafruit tested their Cheekmate chess cheat prototype by embedding it in a pig butt slab.

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The internet has been abuzz for weeks over a chess cheating controversy that erupted last month. Reigning world chess champion Magnus Carlsen lost in the third round to 19-year-old Hans Niemann in what was widely seen as a shocking upset. Carlsen withdrew from the tournament the next day, and his cryptic comments on Twitter fueled rampant speculation that Niemann had cheated. The fact that Niemann admitted to cheating in online chess matches did not help his case, but he firmly insisted that he had never cheated in over-the-board games.

The fierce debate eventually produced a bizarre viral conspiracy theory that Niemann had used anal beads to receive coded messages during the game. But would that even be possible? The folks at Adafruit Industries were intrigued enough to put the theory to the test – you know, just to get to the bottom of it. The result is a prototype device called the Cheekmate — because the Adafruit team rightly loves their pungent innuendo — complete with a step-by-step guide for those who might want to build their own prototype.

This device, Adafruit insists, is not intended for actual cheating: « It would be asinine…in short, a blemish on the sport, but to save for posterior if that kind of backdoor intrusion is even plausible. » or just an internet myth. With no human volunteers willing to test the prototype, they ended up embedding Cheekmate into a big, juicy slab of pork butt.

The Carlsen/Niemann dusting is being called the most serious chess cheating scandal since the 2006 World Chess Championship, dubbed « Toiletgate » because Veselin Topalov accused his opponent, Vladimir Kramnik, of going to the toilet too often. (Topalov believed Kramnik was receiving computer assistance during the game via these bathroom breaks, later insisting that network cables were found in the bathroom ceiling.) But that’s the conspiracy theory of the anal beads — courtesy of a since-deleted Reddit user’s humorous post on the possibility — that really sets the current controversy apart. “The theory is too compelling to ignore,” Ethan Gach writes to Kotaku. “They are bonkers, but just on the cusp of feasibility. »

Enter Adafruit, which naturally designed the Cheekmate prototype around the company’s own products, assuming one-way communication with an accomplice to test the basic idea. (The project also requires a soldering iron.) This includes an Adafruit QT Py ESP32-S2 with built-in Wi-Fi, capable of communicating with any mobile hotspot, such as a cell phone with tethering capability Wi-Fi, probably carried by the cheater’s accomplice.

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