September 07, 2013

Pantaleoni discovers error, presents Birnam trophy to rightful winner

Matt Pantaleoni of St. Louis was delighted to be presented the overall trophy by the organizers of the Birnam Highland Games in Scotland on August 31st, but days later when he took a closer look at the results he realized they had awarded it to the wrong person. His calculation showed that Jori Chisholm of Seattle was the rightful recipient.

While many pipers would have quietly kept the truth it to him or herself, Pantaleoni was having none of it. There was only one thing to do: give it to Chisholm.

So, when he saw Jori Chisholm at the Northern Meeting at Inverness Pantaleoni told Chisholm of the games’ error, explained his calculation and personally presented him with the trophy. Pantaleoni contacted pipes|drums only to ensure that the record was set straight, for history’s sake.

“I took a photo of the secretary’s sheet showing the table for all senior piping results and the point values ascribed to each placing,” Pantaleoni explained.  “I was planning to use this for my records when submitting my grading application in a few months, but while looking through some photos from my trip last night, I came across this sheet and took a closer look at the results only to discover that I was erroneously awarded the overall [due] to a clerical error that gave me five points for a third place in the Jig, a prize that I did not receive on the day.  Without those five points in my overall score, Jori Chisholm had the highest score and deserved the overall prize.”

Pantaleoni handed over the glass “keeper trophy” to Chisholm on September 6th, and let the Birnam Games committee know, hoping that they had not already engraved the historic overall trophy, which dates back to the early-1900s.

“So please feel free to remove my ugly mug . . . from [pipes|drums] and get Jori’s name where it belongs!” Pantaleoni added. “I’d rather not make a big deal about it;  I just wanted to correct the error.”

He also noted that Chisholm has won the overall award at Birnam for at least the last four years.

Plenty of significant trophies have been awarded to the wrong person over the years. It is rare, if not unprecedented, that a piper who discovered the mistake would return it to the right recipient.


  1. Congratulations to Matt for doing the right, and only, thing. Of course, I too am aware of mix-ups involving the incorrect tabulation of results. However, I would like to think if the error was discovered and the interested parties were notified most IF NOT ALL would do as Matt did. I hope the suggestion to the contrary in the article is anecdotal and not factual.

  2. This article put a big smile on my face. Not as someone has done the honest thing no, instead that someone has turned out in a mint-green shirt and glengarry combo. Credit to the judges for being able to concentrate on the piping.

  3. ‘Newsflash: global shock as man does the right thing’. Well done to this chap and I appreciate why it is being reported – to highlight his integrity and remove speculation for the correction. That said, I don’t think it is fair to make a sweeping statement like “While many pipers would have quietly kept the truth it (sic) to him or herself”. Let’s not beat ourselves up by suggesting that Mr Pantaleoni’s behaviour is the exception, not the rule. There are many solid citizens in this caper.

  4. We’ve learned that Birnam uses a somewhat unusual method to determine its overall award. 1st = 10 points. 2nd = 8 points. 3rd = 5. 4th = 3. 5th = 1. So Jori Chisholm’s two firsts and a fourth give him 23 points to Ben McClamrock’s 22 points from a first, second, fourth, and fifth. Almost any other system would yield a different result.

  5. Willie I think you are right.There are two issues here; firstly Matt’s magnanimous gesture which is laudable and secondly who won. But in relation to Willie’s point ssuming the logic is 5 points for first 4 for second et seq there seem to be (perhaps others will check my logic and arithmetic) two competitors with 12 points each. Often the piobaireachd placing is used to separate the individuals in these circumstances.



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