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Friday, March 9, 2018

Andriy Slyusarchuk. What a character!

     Andriy Slyusarchuk was born May 10, 1971 and is a Ukrainian mnemonist (someone able to perform unusual feats of memory) who has claimed to be a general aviation pilot, a psychotherapist, Doctor of Science in medicine, a psychiatrist and a psychologist.  He also claimed to be a neurosurgeon and, in fact, actually performed brain surgery throughout the Ukraine in both city and government hospitals. 
     In his youth during the 1980s he was physically abused and sent to a psychiatric hospital where he was tied to a bed, given psychoactive drugs and injected with sulfozin. When the psychiatrists asked him which books he was reading, Slyusarchuk said that he was reading medical literature and works by Ivan Pavlov and Vladimir Lenin. He was sent to an institution for the mentally ill children. 
     Slyusarchuk was placed in a Soviet orphanage, where he was misunderstood by his teachers and encouraged to conform.  When he tried to retrieve his secondary-school certification to enter a higher educational institution, he was labeled mentally ill and punished. At age 11, Slyusarchuk ran away from the orphanage. 
     His resume is impressive and includes employment by a state Institute of Modern Technology and Management, National University of Construction and Architecture, National Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education, Romodanov Institute of Neurosurgery and Lviv Polytechnic as a professor. 
     He was employed by the government of the Ukraine as an adviser to Oleksandr Turchynov, a Ukrainian politician, screenwriter, Baptist minister and economist. In what was called the largest-scale fraud in Ukraine's 20 years of independence, he defrauded two Ukrainian presidents and was sentenced to eight years in prison. 
     He was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital eight times between 1974 and 1987. His long rap sheet includes charges of medical malpractice. 
     In addition to his claims to have set records for memorizing large amounts of digital data, sequences of geometric figures, words and other information, Doctor Pi, as he was known, has claimed to have set several unverified world records by memorizing the numbers which make up pi, but a couple of journalists noted that at his public performances he was attended by a nearby assistant with a computer and the use of an earphone was possible. 
     His pi memorization feat involved memorizing one million digits of the figure pi. In 2008, it was up to two million and by 2009 he claimed to have set a record by memorizing the first 30 million decimal places of pi and by 2010, 200 million decimal places. These feats seem impossible just based on the length of time required to physically perform the tasks. In November 2011 he was charged with fraud and his records memorizing pi were canceled and removed from The Book of Records of Ukraine
     Slyusarchuk was known for his hypnotic skill; he claimed the ability to hypnotize people to feel no pain when burned. On a TV show, he hypnotized students of the L'viv University of Modern Technology into believing that the onions they ate were apples. 
     At some point Slyusarchuk became interested in chess and in April 2011, playing blindfold, he scored a win and a draw against Rybka in Kiev. Afterwards he claimed that he memorized 2,600 chess books in preparation for the feat. The internet-based chess newspaper Chess Today claimed Slyusarchuk’s numerous absurd statements showed his complete ignorance of chess, adding it was “quite unforgivable for a guy who has read, as is claimed, more than 2000 chess books within several months!" 
     For his part, Slyusarchuk stressed that it was not a chess event but a demonstration of memory. Sponsors bought him a powerful computer which played many engine versus engine games against another chess computer and he memorized the strategy. According to a friend, Slyusarchuk just recalled memorized games. 
     In a televised demonstration of memorizing chess positions he was criticized by invited observer GM Grigoriy Timoshenko who said that he was 99.9-percent sure that the performance was fake and a New York Times article called Slyusarchuk "an illusionist". Timoshenko called the performance a scam because Slyusarchuk had contact with his assistant in the room, had little knowledge of the rules of chess and could not always demonstrate the moves on the board. A few days after the exhibition Timoshenko received a call from the TV station and was told that the film would not be shown because Slyusarchuk had threatened legal action.
     In October 2011, the Lviv newspaper published its first article critical of Slyusarchuk accusing him of forgery and fraud and investigating him in subsequent articles. After the articles attracted widespread publicity Slyusarchuk denied the accusations in interviews, but in November 2011, the Ukrainian police detained him on suspicion of forgery and fraud. In early 2012, Slyusarchuk underwent a medical and psychiatric examination at the Lviv Oblast Psychiatric Hospital and was found partially sane and a psychiatrist was authorized to supervise and treat him in prison if and when needed. After receiving a second psychiatric examination in February 2014 he was sentenced to eight years in prison. 
     For analysis of one of his games against Rybka see the Youtube video HERE

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