15th August Mental Calculation Live Competition at the MSO

While the World Cup, Memoriad and other mental calculation competitions were cancelled this year, I’ve been working hard with the teams from the MSO to produce an online mental calculation competition, and I’ll be presenting a live stream of the whole event.

We have about 30 human calculators who are preparing now to attend - here’s more information about the event, the participants, and how you can watch.

There will also be a Junior competition in September, with 100+ participants under the age of 20, and that will be happening in mid-September, organized by the Junior Mental Calculation World Championship.


Unfortunate timing. It’s at the same time as the Arena of Memory match between Andrea Muzii and Alex Mullen:

Nice to see that you are also moving online with some activities, though. :slight_smile:


Благодаря на Даниел Тиимс за оранизазията на вчерашното състезание.Беше доста продължително ,но уникално.Ние имахме няколко спирания на нета,които ни се отразиха леко,но все пак Калоян се справи страхотно.Успех в организацията и занапред!

[via Google Translate]

Thanks to Daniel Teams for the organization of yesterday’s competition. It was quite long, but unique. We had several stops on the net, which affected us slightly, but still Kaloyan did great. Good luck in the organization in the future!

And here are the results of the competition!


Thanks for putting this up Daniel.
Is there some way that we can be sure about the integrity of these results? The scores of the winner seem quite a league apart from everyone else, despite the winner performing relatively average in a lot of physical MSWC over the years? ( I am aware that he calls himself the fastest human calculator in the world). Does it boil down to the nature of the problems picked up for this contest?
I don’t mean this in a negative way, but just as a general concern about online competitions and unexpected winners.

Good question - Bhanu was much faster than when I last saw him compete in 2016, but then he does a lot more now with training.

The participants were on a Zoom call with me and the other judge so we could check for cheating. Not a perfect system of course, but we were satisfied on the integrity front.

The big difference between Bhanu’s score and those of Mohammad and Asmita (2nd and 3rd places) was actually from one question near the end, in inexact cube roots, where it turns out Bhanu had been doing lots of training, and picked up 57 points just on that question. In retrospect it would have been better to cap the number of points attainable on any question to e.g. 20. But anyway he would have won even with 0 points on that question as he had performed very strongly elsewhere!

In fact we even asked him to do another cube roots question by himself as his score was exceptional, and we wanted to see whether he had somehow cheated, but he passed that challenge no problem.

I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to call themself the “fastest calculator” as there are lots of people who could claim to be that (Jeonghee Lee, Wenzel Grüß, Marc Jornet Sanz, Chris Bryant, Tomohiro Iseda, and some others) but I’m satisfied he was indeed the fastest calculator in Saturday’s competition. His score was a league apart, but his performance was comparable to the others in the top 5.

In general though, an online format does make it more difficult to control the environment, as you say, and I wouldn’t be happy with big money prizes etc. in this format.

Thanks Daniel. I appreciate the response and that makes a lot of sense. I am glad that everyone is satisfied on the integrity front. 57 points on that question is crazy impressive, and it’s commendable that someone was able to take advantage of the rules by training systematically for those.

An annual calculation event of a Minds Sports Olympiad competition with 29 participants from 13 different countries is much more important than a duel match which happens every other week.

By the way. How many views did your duel match have?
Our competition almost got 2000 views in youtube.

To batman:
About ‘the fastest human calculator’ , of course this question is too abstract. And we lovers of numbers, fancy much more quantitative definitions and analytical thinking.

The facts are :
Fastest human calculator in division, anzan and addition: Jeongee Lee
Fastest human calculator in multiplication : Marc Jornet Sanz
Fastest human calculators in calendars: Yusnier Viera and Jay Jain
Fastest human calculators in square roots : Granth, Rhea and Shashank

These are facts according to the combined Memoriad rankings and the http://www.recordholders.org/en/list/mental-calculation-rankings.html

Bhanu is the fastest in MSO2020 and he is the fastest in 2-digit oral addition, so he deserves some credit for that. I agree that he makes some over-the-top claims for marketing reasons, but trust me. He is legit and fast. And the night before the contest, I was discussing with him the inexact cube root algorithm.

In the same way you doubt Bhanu, you could also say that Scott Flansburg is not the human calculator, because he does not compete anymore. But this is not the case. You have to understand that these titles ‘fastest’ etc. are usually made for marketing reasons.

I told you the areas where I think Bhanu is the best. Because in 2016, I had seen him add 2 digit numbers orally, as fast as Scott Flansburg. In MCWC 2014 and 2016, he was 14 yo and 16 yo respectively, so since he did not quit training, it is expected that he has now become much faster than those contests.

Could he still have won MCWC 2020 if it had happened ? Probably not, since I have not seen him improve in calendars which give extra 10%. To top, that also the Japanese always bring the best talent. But probably Bhanu could still get a Top3 or Top5 place now in MCWC , since he was already 12th when he was 14 or 16 yo, with less training.

But due to my experience in the world cups, the Japanese tend to beat the Indians by a reasonable margin. The score is Japan 3 - India 1 , in the last 4 MCWC competitions. And even in 2014 where Japan lost, the Japanese competitor Mrs Chie was still 3rd.

Then, if you add in the mix, the Korean Miss Lee, which in my opinion is the absolute fastest on Earth, then it is getting harder and harder for the top-Indians. And I dare not to think what would happen if the Chinese brought their best talent in calculation, as it happens in memory contests. Probably everyone of us would slip at least 10 positions in the rankings, if the Chinese were included.


MSO 2020 participant
5 times MCWC participant
2 times International Memoriad participant

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Dear @Nodas,

Thankyou very much for your explanation. As someone who has only seen the world of mental calculation from a distance, I was quite interested to hear how people who are more involved with the community perceive this. I appreciate you putting up the facts about the actual fastest human calculators in various disciplines. I do understand that these titles are made for marketing reasons, but from a distance it’s hard to tell how much percentage of it is marketing and how much of it is talent! I think the comments in this post clear that very much.

Coming back to the general topic, about views on duel match and annual competition being more important, I am one of those people who actually tried following both the streams as they were both exciting (a duel match may happen often, but Alex(World champion 2015-2017) vs Andrea (World champion 2019) happened for the first time and that was definitely exciting for the whole non-mental calculation memory community.

I must confess however, that it was relatively slightly boring to watch the mental calculation game compared to the memory game, mainly because there the software for the former is not as seamless as the latter. I understand it is going to be a progression and this was the first time that MSO was held online, but I did find it very hard to wait for lot of minutes for every question, to just see questions presented, not being able to see what participants are writing or their faces. Another thing missing was a live chat (for example at 3:23 in the live stream, Question-3 in the group match, Asmita and Joshua got double points for that question. It might have been easy to communicate if the chat was enabled). So while the contest was amazing, it needed more concentration and patience to follow.
I don’t mean to take away credit from anyone who worked hard for this and I know even memory sports was dull to watch few years back. It’s definitely commendable the direction in which the mental calculation scene is heading and I am sure that in the future, with more developments and more of these events, things are going to get more interesting, and ideally the communities can schedule big events at separate timings


It’s not a question of being “more important”, it’s a question of what people prefer to watch, based on their interests. The memory match also wasn’t like the other memory matches that have been streamed. It was its own event, and featured the reigning World Memory Champion vs a former 3-times World Memory Champion. I would have liked to tune in to the mental calculation stream too, but for a memory enthusiast like me this duel was far more appealing. Thus, unfortunate timing. :slight_smile:

Congrats, that’s awesome! :slight_smile: From what I can recall, the memory sports stream peaked at a little over 200 concurrant viewers, with an average of 130+ viewers for the entire 3h broadcast. That’s several times more than what the “normal” streams of the memory sports channel get, so it was quite popular! Now afterwards it’s gone up to about 600 views (vs 1600 on the mental calculation one). But hey, it’s not like it’s a competition on who has the most views. :stuck_out_tongue:


It was unfortunate about the timing (both events at the same time) but of course clashes are inevitable between events! I’m glad that both events had lots of interest as they were each interesting for different reasons. (And definitely not a competition of who got more views)

Thanks for the feedback about the event from a viewer perspective - I was quite overwhelmed at the time with responding to questions from the participants, helping the judge when needed and preparing things for the live stream. So there were some gaps and delays, and not as interesting as it could have been :slight_smile: But that’s what you learn from experimenting with this for the first time.

In particular, it was confusing for viewers for the scores to be updated at different times to the questions, so that’s something I aim to straighten out for any future events like the Junior Mental Calculation Online Championship in September.

It’s really cool that the memory community is also experimenting with different formats of online competitions too (the Memory League event in May/June, and now the duel from Saturday) as it’s helping take something positive from the difficulties of the pandemic. I hope to see more!

And moreover I hope that in 2021 we can have offline events once again, so I can meet and compete with strong calculators like Nodas and Bhanu. I’m hoping to go to Memoriad, which is actually how I first got involved with memory as an extra to my mental maths.


Had the exact same thought as you when I checked out the video now afterwards. I guess faces would be quite hard to show when there are many people competing at the same time, but being able to see what the competitors are writing in real time would have made it so much more interesting and entertaining for me (or at the very least, being able to see the answer that everyone submitted). :slight_smile:

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It is not hard. We have to login into the software Zoom, which allows 16 small windows simultaneously.

Each round had 5 to 7 participants so it would be perfectly possbile to show the faces. But I guess, this was not done, due to privacy reasons as Yusnier and Daniel told us.

Some competitors like me, used 2 different logins to Zoom, for 2 different camera set-ups. The 1st camera on my laptop showing my face, and the 2nd wide-angle camera view from my telephone in an elevated position, and using the android App zoom.

I personally would not have a problem nor feel extra pressure if my cameras were shown. That regularly happens in most competitions anyway. Memoriad organization has their own professional photographer, and probably the same with Buzan’s WMC.

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Ние също ползвахме две камери и нямахме нищо против показването на лицата,може би ,има изискване за разрешение за показване(при нас ,особенно за лица под 18 год,не е разрешено показване ,заснемане без декларация за съгласие)

[via Google Translate]

We also used two cameras and didn’t mind showing the faces, maybe there is a requirement for permission to show (we, especially for people under 18, are not allowed to show, take pictures without a declaration of consent)

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