The 2018 IAM World Memory Championships are coming up in 2 weeks in Vienna, Austria.
It’s obviously a huge event in the memory community, so I wanted to give you a look inside (what it entails, the techniques used, how I train, etc.)
The 10 Events (and time limits)
These are the 10 events (it’s a lot) that take place over 3 days:
- Names and Faces (15 minutes) – memorize international names and faces, spelling must be perfect
- Binary Digits (30 minutes) – as many 1’s and 0’s as you can memorize in order
- Random Images (5 minutes) – similar to clip art images, memorize each line of 5 images in order
- Hour Numbers – how many digits you can memorize in order
- Speed Numbers (5 minutes) – as many digits you can memorize in order in 5 minutes
- Words (15 minutes) – random words memorized in order
- Hour Cards – as many decks of cards you can memorize in one hour
- Historic Dates (5 minutes) – “fake” dates and events (fake because otherwise you could study dates beforehand)
- Spoken Numbers – numbers are spoken by a computer program at a rate of 1 digit per second. You have to memorize as many in order as possible. 1 mistake and your score stops there.
- Speed Cards – fastest you can memorize 1 deck of cards (5 min max)
**Each event has a winner and a cumulative score crowns the overall winner.
The main technique that is used by competitors is the memory palace / journey method.
It involves turning “places” you know well, like your home and office, into a mental journey where you store information. Information is stored by turning it into a mental “image” or “story”.
It’s an incredible technique if you really think about it.
You can read more about the technique here:
For these events, a memory palace is not used:
-Names & Faces
A number system, like PAO or the major system, is needed to memorize numbers in these events:
A card system, like the PAO or 2-card system, is needed for the cards events (Hour Cards, Speed Cards).
4 years ago, I started learning basic PAO (person-action-object) systems to memorize numbers and cards. These, anyone can learn pretty quickly.
Now, (I’ve gone overboard and) I learned a complex 1,000 image system for numbers using the major system. The major system involves “reading” numbers as different consonant sounds (each digit has a different sound) and spelling words with those sounds.
That means I have a different image for every 3 digit number between 000 and 999. For example: 357 = milk, 497 = Rubik’s cube.
For cards, it’s even crazier. I now memorize 2 cards at a time, so I have a different image for 1,352 combinations. (It’s too complex to explain here. Maybe I’ll explain it in a separate email one day.)
Both the number and card system I use now took about 3 months just to make (creating all those unique images), then about another 3 months to learn and get comfortable using.
IT’S A LOT, I get it.
I realized that if you want to be one of the best at something, you have to take it to another level. That’s what I did…and it’s paying off.
Last year, in Jakarta, I finished in 23rd place.
This year, I hope to get top 10.
For perspective, here are a few scores I got last year VS. what I am attempting this year:
|Last Year’s Score||This Year|
|Digits memorized in 1 Hour||1,318 digit number||2,100 digit number|
|Decks of Cards memorized in 1 Hour||12 decks||24 decks|
|Digits memorized in 5 minutes||192 digit number||300 digit number|
|Time to memorize 1 deck of cards||65.9 secs||32 seconds|
How do you improve your memory at this level?
Answer: Memorize faster. Push your limits when you train. Learn how fast you can turn information into an image and store it in your mind.
I recommend trying MemoryLeague.com.
See how many names or images or cards or numbers or words you can memorize in 1 minute.
Well, I better get back to training…
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