Sunday, November 08, 2009

Not a Real Chess Champ?

If you missed it, there is still some action happening in my earlier post "Not a Real Geek". Thanks to Dr Kevin Bonham, perhaps we should be asking if Jeremy Reading is actually a real "chess champion".

This from the official website:

"Some people consider chess a sport. You need to be strong mentally – I’ve played for up to 4.5 hours – and to be able to concentrate for that long I would consider it a sport. My chess playing is probably my geekiest attribute. I’m the ACT champion – it’s really annoying not being able to say state champion."

But according to research done by Dr Bonham, there's absolutely no record of this bloke having won the ACT Championships!

To be fair to Mr Reading, who now looks like he's been deep fried in a vat of tanning solution, that claim of him being state champion is probably the work of some PR hack in Channel 7. Reading was ACT Junior champ in 2004 and he also won the ACT Rapid championship 2 years later.


Libby said...

Such a burning issue too - you can tell beause there are so many ACT people hot under the collar about these "false" claims that surely denigrate the entire ACT chess playing community and steal a mass of publicity from the "true" champions.

I can attest that I have "never" (??) been misquoted or had information taken out of context in my dealings with the media about chess. TV, radio & print journalists have always been well-informed about chess goings-on and intent on ensuring every little fact about the difference between "junior" and "rapid" and "chesskids nationals" and "ASTC nationals" and each major and pressing issue that occupies a lot of time of chess forums is exhaustingly and accurately desribed in full and glorious detail.

Please move on.

The most curious thing about the whole program for me is that it's apparently doing very well in the timeslot. Crikey described it as one of the "big losers" for the week - not because it wasn't pulling viewers, but because it was. And perhaps Jeremy can get a better spray tan next time by providing another couple of chess lessons to the spray tan technician amongst the "beauties."

Mario said...

Kevin Bonham said...

In this case the "exhausting" level of "full and glorious detail" necessary to accurately describe Jeremy's status would have added at most four words to the descriptions being used in the hype. So let's not pretend that this is about getting the story right being all too hard for the journalist.

In many related cases, that is a reasonable excuse for a journo filing a complex story about a matter of marginal general public interest to a tight time frame, but that's not what's going on here. This one looks like a case of deliberately jazzing the story up because the hyped version is more saleable than the truth. The question is whether it is the contestant or the show who is responsible for that situation; as with AR I suspect it is the latter.

As for the lack of the outrage from the ACT chess community, perhaps that's not surprising when the title in question has had 14 different winners in the past nine years, some of them considerably lower rated than Reading is now, to the point that had he entered the event more often it would have been surprising had he not at least tied for it. But if anyone in Tas lacking the excuse of senility was claiming (or being claimed to be) state champion when they'd never won the state title and rarely even played in the tournament I wouldn't be the only one ensuring the matter was dealt with.

I have some further comments on this matter of doubtless great public import (*winks in Libby's direction*) here:

By the way I voted no on AR's poll on whether Jeremy's participation was harmful to chessplayers.

Jeremy said...

LOL! For someone who says I am damaging chess and that the show is stupid, you seem to be taking a clear interest in what people are saying about me and you are going to a lot of effort in reading the official site etc. I thought you weren't interested?

I am also surprised that you did not realize that things get lost in translation and modified/editied before they get puplished. I thought that was common knowledge! put your mind at easy I would like to clarify that I always specified in interviews that I was the "FORMER ACT RAPIDPLAY CHESS CHAMPION".

A lot of people in the public don't know what the term 'rapidplay' means so they shorten it to 'ACT Chess Champion'. Simple as that - I thought it was obvious?

Anyways...I honestly love the fact you are making a big deal about nothing - yet again. It is hillarious! :) Thanks for the free publicity. GEEKS RULE!!!

Libby said...

Hi Kevin

"In this case the "exhausting" level of "full and glorious detail" necessary to accurately describe Jeremy's status would have added at most four words to the descriptions being used in the hype. So let's not pretend that this is about getting the story right being all too hard for the journalist."

Actually - as I have found in my past dealings - it is not about the pressing deadline or the level of difficulty in "getting it right" - it's more about the level of interest or engagement the journalist/publicist/cadet has in the adjectives you are providing. Or, in their judgement, the reading/listening/watching public has in those words. They are after a "grab" from you. I don't think I've ever told them something untrue but I had certainly learned to be selective about the information I provided and the way I chose to present it to give that information the greatest possible chance to end up in print or on radio/tv.

Whenever I did provide the "extra" detail (describing the nature of a title, or even differentiating between World Junior & World Youth - let alone ChessKids or the ASTC - it never made the story. Never once.

When we have the profile for chess that rugby league has maybe we can get a few headlines for our "superleague" wars. But we'll need Jeremy to start behaving much more badly before anything he says as part of the show creates a headline.

Except here of course.


Anonymous said...

I had never heard of Jeremy Reading until the show started. Initially I was quite excited to see a chess player on a reality TV program. However based on the way Jeremy has been carrying-on on this blog he doesnt fit the bill as " nice guy ". Perhaps he is a nice guy in real life and the stress of the situation has got to him. said...

His new makeover was a flop in my opinion, but the beauties seemed to like it. That said I suppose it was an improvement - but it didn't knock my socks off.

Anonymous said...

dr bonham (former tasmanian chess champion and rare bird spotter) should be the show as well. he may have better odds of pulling one of the beauties.

Kevin Bonham said...

Thanks for the clarification regarding what you told them, Jeremy.

If those putting the show together really think a word like "rapidplay" needs omitting because the audience won't know what it means, then they clearly don't have much regard for either the intelligence or the curiosity level of their viewers. This is a show about geekdom, after all - wouldn't the public *expect* to come across plenty of things that they didn't understand, and perhaps even be disappointed if this didn't occur?

Clearly the show has not the slightest problem subjecting the viewer to the word "phytophthora". Indeed the scientific component of the profile they put up for Peter ( is better than a fair amount of reporting of natural science issues in the popular press (I can say this from direct personal experience as a scientist whose work is now and then thus reported). It's also apparently true - Peter really is the primary discoverer and lead author of the description of P. multivora, and the description was published in a properly refereed journal. Just found it online and read it, nice piece of work.

So I wonder if the real reason they dumbed down Jeremy's formal chess achievements is not that they would be too incomprehensible to the public, but that the public (not knowing, for instance, that based on Jeremy's rating alone he is clearly quite a strong player) wouldn't think they were actually all that impressive.

Libby, I'm not intending to create any mainstream headlines or change in journalistic culture on this one. If I was I'd be spamming all the BATG forums out there and any rival network looking for ammo for the usual threadbare hatchet piece on any such show that's doing well.

Is anonymous (1:40 pm) antichrist from Chesschat? For the record I am not an ornithologist, although I did mention an unusual kingfisher sighting on chesschat once and changed my avatar accordingly. Dr Bonham is over the age limit for BATG, considers that he doesn't tick enough boxes, and wouldn't be interested anyway.

Jeremy said...


You make some good points.

I do agree that they could have cut out 'rapidplay' to seem more impressive. I am not 100% sure about it. I just know that often people ask 'so what does rapidplay mean?'

And I definitely know that there are many stronger chessplayers out there in Australia. Smerdon applied and he is a GM. I guess it was combinations of my other 'Geek qualities' that got me on the show, but they thought the 'Chess Champion' tag fitted best and was different from the other guys who have their tag line relating to their profession.