James Damore has been in the news recently because of controversy over this document he wrote while he was an employee of Google's.

The article I had originally read mentioned that he was a chess player, so I searched Google for "James Damore chess" and found this article from "heavy.com" (which I had never heard of). The article stated that he was a FIDE Master, and cited his resume.

[ edit1: The Daily Wire has echoed this statement that Damore is a FIDE Master ]

[ edit2: FrontPage Magazine has done the same ]

However, I could not find Damore's FIDE profile, so it seems that he is not even FIDE-rated, let alone a FIDE Master.

It seems to me that there are several possibilities:

  1. He is a FIDE Master, but somehow the record is missing from the FIDE database. This seems unlikely to me.

  2. The resume is not actually his resume (fabricated by someone who is not him). This also seems unlikely since the website on which the resume is hosted looks like it is the official website for MIT's GORElaboratory.

  3. He lied on his resume and said that he is a FIDE Master, when in reality he is not. This, unfortunately, seems the most likely possibility, especially since this USCF profile with his name shows a rating of 1817.


My question is: has anybody heard of James Damore in the context of chess? Is he really a FIDE Master?

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    +1 excellent question for the site. There is one on reddit (reddit.com/r/chess/comments/6shr0e/…) – SmallChess Aug 10 '17 at 4:21
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    I think he lied that's he's an FM. A FM with his age should appear on the Internet (tournament results and crosstables etc). – SmallChess Aug 10 '17 at 4:21
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    Could he be this James? ratings.fide.com/card.phtml?event=2024896 – SmallChess Aug 10 '17 at 5:15
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    This guy is indeed an FM, around his age, and really came second (in fact equal second) in the 2003 National Chess (claimed on his resume). uschess.org/results/2003/elem – SmallChess Aug 10 '17 at 5:16
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    This kind of question (verifying notable claims) are also very much welcome at Skeptics and I have always been amazed at the quality of the answers there. Of course, this time your question was on-topic here and received good answers, but I thought you might like to know :) – 11684 Aug 10 '17 at 23:45
up vote 18 down vote accepted

I believe James Damore lied about his resume, and not just about chess.

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/james-damore-removes-phd-studies-linkedin-2017-8?r=US&IR=T

If he had the courage to lie about PhD in his profile (that's a very serious misconduct), why wouldn't he lie about being an FM master?

I can't think of a reason why his FIDE profile is not available, and his USCF rating is just a little over 1800. Hard to imagine we can't find a single FIDE-rated tournament crosstable with his name (he's a young guy and he had to play serious chess games to get an FM title).

James Damore is not an FM. He had cheated the media and Google.

PS: Note that the media simply downloaded the resume like we did. They had no idea this guy played well below the FM 2300+ rating. Journalists aren't chess players. They didn't have the experience verifying a chess player, but they did quickly send an enquiry to Harvard for his PhD (something they understood).

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    "Everything in his resume about chess was fake." He claims to have come second in the National Youth Action 2003 Chess Tournament, which is backed up by the USCF's results page. – David Richerby Aug 10 '17 at 11:53
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    Hmm... I'm guessing he was probably actually a Ph.D. candidate (who earned his Master's by default in the course of working on his Ph.D., which is pretty normal in the physical sciences in the U.S.) Looks like he left the Ph.D. program early to accept the job offer from Google. From a quick look, I don't see a way to indicate on LinkedIn that "I was a Ph.D. student, but left before earning the degree." It just asks for the school, degree being sought, field, and years. Anyone who knows much about Ph.D programs could guess he didn't actually get a Ph.D. from Harvard in 2 years. – reirab Aug 10 '17 at 15:30
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    I wouldn't say failing to keep one's LinkedIn profile up to date is a very serious offense (everybody lists their studies in progress). IMHO what matters is the actual CV submitted with an actual job application. – itub Aug 10 '17 at 16:58
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    If his intention had been to lie about obtaining a PhD, it seems unlikely that he would have listed the dates as "2011-2013", which is an unrealistically short period of time and would definitely raise questions. – littleO Aug 10 '17 at 20:21
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    Anyone in a PhD program would indicate their place of study as that program. If he was happily at Google and wasn't looking for a job, it's not out of the ordinary for him not to update his profile. And as others have (partially) pointed out, if he got his job offer while still in the program, he may have abandoned updating his LinkedIn profile. Also don't discount the fact that LinkedIn updates their interface and what he could enter 2013 may have been more limited than what he can enter today. – grovkin Aug 11 '17 at 4:45

James Damore is not a FIDE Master, simply chech the FIDE Ratings website and search for James Damore. As this shows, there are no results.

Notice that there are no possible technicalities for why James Damore is not in the system (things like FIDE lost his paperwork or the possibility that James Damore had a FIDE Master title but then cancelled his FIDE membership or similar) since FIDE keeps track of every single membership even when they are cancelled, so if James Damore ever had a FIDE membership (which you have to have if you are a FIDE Master), he should be in the system.

I checked on the USCF website. There is a James A Damore with a rating of 1817 and no titles. This James is registered in Illinois and last played in the Chicago Open 2005.

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