Cheating in memory competition

I play online chess on a regular basis on (I’m to lazy to be good at) and on this site was a news article about a dutch chess player cheating by having a smartphone (with chess app) sowed into his trousers. In another recent high level tournament 4 players played the exact same game for about 25 moves and than the referee put the 4 players in 2 different halls. Cheating in chess seems to be a real problem. Well this leads me to imagine how you could cheat in a memory competition. Some options that i think of:

  • google glass that look like normal glasses; record and replay;
  • swapping deck of cards;

To be completely honest, I don’t think that cheating in competition is a big thing, however I have some reason to assume that memory feats performed on television could be fake quite often. I once had a boss (warehouse manager) that was friends with a famous television show presenter. Well, he got invited to participate in a show in which he could win a 20.000 euro car. …and he won, but he didn’t get the car. He knew all the answers to the questions because he knew the questions beforehand and he was simply acting for a small fee and got to meet some celebs. He also told me that in world record shows like “wedden dat” (I bet I can…) some participants are actors; I remember someone licking envelopes so he could tell from which country the envelop was. In another show someone claimed to eat 2 pounds of chocolate bars a day and was now able to taste the difference between more than 100 chocolate bars.

This brings me to a rather delicate subject: Ben Pridmore participating in Britain’s got talent. He memorised a deck cards in 1 minute. Well, could it be that he was invited by Simon Cowell to act. Did Simon want to take the risk (however small) that Ben messed up. I know for a fact that some high level artist are invited to the show pretending to be just starting their career. A good example is dutch singer gladys grace who did really well in America’s got talent. She said in the show she wanted to sing for a bigger audience; that is rather funny considering the fact that she a mega star in holland who sings in completely sold out concerts in football stadiums on a regular basis.

So my question is: are memory feats on television likely to be fake?

If Ben Pridmore could answer this himself would be awsome.

This depends a whole lot on who performs the feat. Ben Pridmore is a well-known person in the world of memory so don’t worry about his feats.

Btw, ik ben ook nederlands haha :slight_smile:

I see to recall a documentary where they explained that there are ‘anti cheating’ experts observing the major tournaments. I think that Dominic OBrien acts as such a monitor at times.

1 Like

My question is: Who cares?!?!
We all know that Ben can memorize a deck of cards at those speeds, so if some wily director wanted to make real sure of a glorious TV moment, who cares? One assumes that no Memory Champion worth his salt would agree to an unrealistic cheat (say for example, doing a deck in 9.5 seconds) and that anyone who has trained to the level of a Grandmaster will have enough self respect to know where the boundaries between ‘fact’ and ‘good tv’ need to be drawn. In the end Ben and the others have to be able to look at themselves in the mirror every morning.


My question is: Who cares?!?!

Well, I care but strictly for the sake of curiosity. I’m also curious when for example I see Dynamo the magician perform magic with celebs on TV; I can’t rule out that (some of the) celebs are acting (that is what they can do really well) to make the magic act work for television, that doesn’t take away my respect for Dynamo at all.

One assumes that no Memory Champion worth his salt would agree to an unrealistic cheat (say for example, doing a deck in 9.5 seconds) and that anyone who has trained to the level of a Grandmaster will have enough self respect to know where the boundaries between ‘fact’ and ‘good tv’ need to be drawn

I totally agree that an unrealistic cheat would be unfair (to other memorisers), but I don’t for second think that is the case; of course Ben can memorise a deck of cards in 1 minute. I also am of the opinion that if Simon Cowell demanded an “acting” performance from Ben it’s still a great way to promote the sport of memorisation. Let’s face it; people love talent shows (myself included) despite knowing, that certain parts are somewhat scripted.

Anyway, I hope my original post is not read of a criticism of Ben. I’m just curious about workings of television programs.

1 Like

I agree, its no different than Pop shows not wanting ‘live’ performances but insisting on the artists doing ‘playback’- playbacking a recording made before the show was filmed/broadcast. Artists and fans tend to hate it but it makes for more ‘consistent’ TV.

They did ask me to appear on the show, rather than me applying for it - that was also true of several other competitors. But I assure you that I did genuinely memorise the cards! As far as I can remember, I’ve never done an ‘acting’ performance on a TV show.


Nah the real answer has been told
But who cares about tv, if you dont trust it you can give away your tv on twitter, or just turn off it

Thanks very much for your reply. I hope I’m not overcurious, but did the judges tell you what their reactions would be. I mean, if they invited you, it would be somewhat rude to call your performance boring, but on the other hand were talking about simon cowell.

I don’t think it was rude - it’s all good fun, and just for entertainment! :smiley:


Holy frick, the god responded.

I appreciate your spirit.

Just some final observation from the video, that sort of …suspicious: at around 1:30 a girl and man in the audience are responding saying something like “they should pay us to watch this”. I mean really, you can’t get a reaction from 1 specific audiance member on record unless she (it was the woman) is wearing a mic. I think they are put in the audiance to act like the 2 old grumpy guys from the Muppetshow. I it is rather obvious that most of the audiance appreciated your performance a lot more than they made it look with the audiance actor(s) and clever editing.

thanks again for your response.