A note from the author, five years later:
The text at the bottom of this post, which is stricken out, has been left in for historic and informative completeness. It is stricken out because it should not be applied, and because it may mislead.
The Shadow System’s name has been problematic for a long time. If the method does not include shadows, as I’ve suggested openly for four years now, surely it can not be referred to as the “Shadow” System must be the rationale.
Credit is due and that credit is given to Hannes for devising the variable-locus shortcut which SS is predicated upon. His arrangement and extension of the Major System was sub-optimal though, which is evident by his card times, even after all these years, while he has set world records in binaries and digits with some regularity throughout those years. The optimisation of the Major System’s arrangement and extension is what I have been able to provide. It isn’t everything, but it is important enough to be widely helpful when applied. That is as much as I could ask for, and what I hoped would be the result of my sharing, which is why the effects of this “naming problem” irk me, such as in the following example:
Only the other day, I saw a person on facebook ask a verbatim SS user point-blank: “Do you use the Shadow System?” Their response was “I use a 2-block method.” Someone else joined in and commented, but are you aware that what you’re using is part 1 of the Shadow System? Their response was something to the effect of, “It’s a half-Hannes and half-Tschirhart method. The “Tschallow System,” haha.” This omission is common.
When asked point blank, and then prompted a second time to point out that they were using the phonetics on this page precisely, they opted to leave the questioner and any other reader with the impression that they were using some hybrid method which is neither written up nor described anywhere, which has no name, and which is unique, at least to some degree. This seemed more sensible to them than providing a link to this page where anyone could emulate that user’s method precisely.
So please, now, when you are in a position where it is appropriate, just call the Shadow System by name, or call it “Part 1 of the Shadow System,” and share the link so you can do your part to help raise the bar in this sport if you believe in its efficacy.
Hi, my name is Lance Tschirhart.
The following is a 2-card system which is described in two “phases”. The second “phase” is an extension which has been clearly demonstrated, in my opinion, to be not only unnecessary but also unwise. Though the naming phase is lightning fast, the process of getting them up to speed is not, and even then, it is high maintenance and seems to provide no benefit.
Though the “Shadow” in the name “Shadow System” came from the second phase, I used this as a nameless system originally in its 1352-image form, and it was only the idea that it could be possible to grab 7 +/- 2 images in the last moment that caused me to create the second part.
Many people are intrigued by the idea of building a 2-card system, but few actually complete the task. The Shadow System was created with the sole purpose in mind of being as easy as possible to fill out. Very special Thanks go to Ben Pridmore, Johannes Mallow, and the creator of the Major System for introducing the concepts central to the system.
Let’s begin by comparing the merits and potential disadvantages of these two systems.
club/club - k
club/diamond - t
club/heart - n
club/spade - m
diamond/club - r
diamond/diamond - d
diamond/heart - l
diamond/spade - g/j
heart/club – f/th
heart/diamond - b
heart/heart - h
heart/spade - p
spade/club - sk/sn/sm
spade/diamond - st/sp
spade/heart - sh/sl/sw
spade/spade – s
A = ‘a’ as in ‘cat’
2 = ‘e’ as in ‘pet’
3 = ‘i’ as in ‘kitten’
4 = ‘o’ as in ‘tom’
5 = ‘u’ as in ‘puss’
6 = ‘A’ as in ‘hay’
7 = ‘E’ as in ‘bee’
8 = ‘I’ as in ‘high’
9 = ‘O’ as in ‘low’
10 = ‘oo’ as in ‘you’
J = ‘ow’ as in ‘cow’
Q = ‘or’ as in ‘oor’
K = ‘ar’ as in ‘car’
A = t
2 = n
3 = m
4 = r
5 = l
6 = g
7 = k
8 = f/th
9 = b
10 = s
J = j/sh/ch
Q = p
K = d
This was almost certainly the first 2-card system invented. It cleanly translates 1000 images that can be represented by all of the digit combinations from 000-999, as well as 1024 images that can be listed as each of the 10-digit binary combinations from 0000000000-1111111111.
The Ben System is an extended major system that serves as an algorithm for producing phonemes. I believe single syllables are important for quick memorization because reducing subvocalization is difficult, and eliminating it is impossible. Most of the phonemes produced by the system are not actual words, and in some cases, the phonemes produced do not exist in any form in English. Even if the consonant and vowel sounds were altered to reflect those commonly used in any other language, this would still be the case - there are just too many combinations.
Some consequences of this setup are:
As soon as the system itself is learned, each of the 2704 card combinations can be pronounced with little ambiguity. However, there are exceptions in the five of the sixteen possible suit combinations that are italicized above. This also is a problem with the Major System, and thus, the Shadow System.
The phonemes that actually produce words on their own can be restrictive. For instance, when the words “Foot,” or “Feet” occur, it can be difficult to imagine anything else while reading them. On the other hand, it is a breath of fresh air to have words simply handed to you. This is a matter of preference.
Since they do not usually make words on their own, the phonemes will usually serve as reminders of the chosen images. As a result, it can be difficult at times to avoid pronouncing the images themselves, which are longer than a single syllable.
Each image is distinctly its own. That means that there is little chance of making errors of momentarily lapsed cognition when reconstructing the deck. This may sound like an obvious consequence of a two card system, but mistakes in reconstruction is a potential problem with the Shadow System, though I have not yet experienced it myself after becoming more familiar with the images.
It is simple. There is much to be said for this - it’s a very elegant system with perfectly consistent grammar. I am of the opinion that a system with more complex grammar may be preferable, so long as it is easy to fill out. This is a matter of taste.
Remember that the Ben System is tried and true: it has been used to set world records in various events and is a favorite of top competitors.
The Shadow System (SS)
SS uses the Major System:
SS is based on the assumption that it is easier to remember semantically related word pairs than words that are created based on phonetic cues, and that this is especially true when you create the word pairs yourself. Also, that it is easier to remember words that have been chosen with less phonetic restrictions. Finally, as opined above, that it is preferable (easier) to learn a new system of grammar than to fill out a system with nonsense syllables.
A member of these forums told me that after using the Ben System for six months, he had achieved a personal best of 44 seconds for memorizing a deck. He said that he felt he could improve much more, but the only problem was how difficult it was to decode the 16 suit combinations on the spot. Granted, this would become natural given enough practice. Still, this hurdle was the first to be eliminated. By pairing each suit combination with another, SS uses different phonetics for only 8 suit combinations. Thus, a greater variety of different sounds can be packed within each number 0-9, or with cards, 10-9, with the original Major System. All numbers in SS adhere to the Major System strictly. The first 4 suit combinations are as follows:
## - S,Z
## - S,Z
## - T,D
## - T,D
## - K,G
## - K,G
## - P
## - P
These initial consonants are represented by the suit combinations. Notice that for the Suits that are the same color, namely , , , , The Clubs’ sound is paired with the Diamonds’, and the Spades’ with the Hearts’.
These are not assigned as arbitrarily as it may appear at first. Because it takes so long to become familiar with such a large list, SS is built to facilitate as much training as possible before the list is complete. “##,” “S,” is the easiest to fill out, followed by “##,” (K,G) “##,” (T,D) and “##” - §. In the Major System, these are represented in digit form by all numbers 000-199, 900-999, and 700-799. As the 000-999 list begins to be filled out, one can begin to train with a deck made of all of the # cards (A-10), for Spades and Hearts, and a similar deck with Clubs and Diamonds. This is a good starting point because in each of these two decks, there are only 200 images represented by the cards, while in a similar deck comprised of, for instance, Spades and Diamonds, there would be 300 images to keep track of: ##, ##, and ##.
The next four suit combinations, which are more difficult to fill out than the first four, are 200-299 (N), 500-599 (L), 600-699 (J,SH,CH) and 300-399 (M). These are to be assigned arbitrarily according to your taste. Mine are assigned based on the level of difficulty I had in filling them out, and the stage at which they would be added into my practice decks. Since (J,SH,CH) and (N) were the most difficult for me, they were assigned to the combinations that would show up only when all of the cards, A-10 of every suit, were put together.
## - L
## - L
## - M
## - J,SH,CH
## - N
## - N
Notice that there are 10 groups of consonants in the major system, and only 8 suit combinations. In total, SS Only translates 992 of the 1000 digit images, excluding 444, 448, 484, 488, 844, 848, 884, and 888.
Two of the most difficult groups to fill out are 800-899 (F,TH), and 400-499 ®. Other groups may be equally difficult, but there is good reason to use these two particular groups as exceptions. Since there is no room for their initial sounds to be represented by suit combinations, there are special rules to accommodate these images.
In order to translate the remaining 200 images into the system, there must be instances in which the suit combinations do not form the initial consonant sounds. This inequality also carries over into the “tens” place, though that may be less intuitive. Thus, face cards, when placed in either the first or both the first and second places, must take precedence over the suit combination preceding it. Since there are only two missing groups, the Jacks and Queens and used for this purpose, while the Kings retain a different set of rules. Queens Always make the sound “R,” and Jacks, when in the first place, make the sounds “F,Th.” However, when Jacks are in the second place, they make the sound “T,D.” We are free to make these kinds of changes because images in which a face card appears in the second place only are among the 352 images that are not in the 000-999 list. “T,D,” as an ending, is preferable to “F,Th,” because there are a paucity of words that end in “F” or “Th.” Because it can include past-tense verbs ending in “ed,” the “T,D” ending is preferable to all others except for “R” and “S.” “S” is only common at the end of words for plurality though, and “R” is already occupied by the Queens. Queens always retain the “R” sound because many professions, appliances, and gadgets end with the letter “R.” When both cards shown are Either JxJx, JxQx, QxQx, or QxJx, the rule of precedence continues to apply, for these combinations match up with the numbers:
The eight numbers which are omitted are the only eight from the 000-999 list that will not translate into card combinations. The first two digits are dictated by the face cards themselves, out of their precedence, so the digit in the “ones” place is determined by the suit combination.
For instance, “J♠Q♠” may be “forest,” and “Q♠J♥” may be “raft.”
Before explicit descriptions of the remainder of the phonetics, understand the logic of why my assignments of initial consonants is anything but arbitrary. It may help you grok the system as a whole more easily.
The only two consonants of the Major System which rarely produce English words when prepended with the letter “S” are “R” and “F,TH". There are fewer English words which begin with “Sr” or “Sf/Sph.” than begin with, for instance, “Sl”, or “Sp”. That is why these initial consonants, those of the 400-499 and 800-899 sets, are indicated by face cards – Queen-first and Jack-first, respectively – rather than by suit pairs. Those consonants which can produce words when prepended with an “S”, do use that “S” to produce those words in the Shadow System.
When a number is in the first place and a Jack or Queen is in the second place, this extra “S” is read before the suit combination. If it were not, then you would be required to create multiple images with the same phonetic code, which is problematic. For example, “3♣4♥” might be “Lemur,” but “3♣Q♥” would also have to use “L+M+R,” which as you can see, could be difficult. By adding an “S” in front, many new combinations are opened up. “3♣Q♥” Could be “Slimer” or “Slammer” or “Slimmer.” Thus, it is important that there be a vowel between the “S” and the second consonant in each of your 000-099 images. The words which begin with an “S” followed by a consonant must be saved for the situations in which a Jack or Queen appears in the second place.
Queens are read as an “R” in every possible case.
Jacks are read as an “F” in all cases except for the 80 instances of #/J.
Per face card, there will be only ten words for each of the suit combinations in which the first card is a number and the second card is a face card. Thus, for “#J:heart:,” there will be ten single-syllable words that begin with “St,” have a second consonant determined by the first card’s index, and either end abruptly (by ignoring the Jack) or are appended with a single letter which is not “R”.
For #Q:heart:, there will be ten more words that begin with “St,” have a second consonant determined by the first card, and end in “R”.
Two of the suit-pair consonants, “S” and “J/Sh/Ch”, require minor decorations. It will not produce new words to begin these card-pairs’ words with “Ss” or “Sj/Sch/Ssh.” So in place of “Sj/Sch/Ssh,” we use “Str,” and in place of “Ss,” we use “Sw.”
Thus initial sounds for instances in which Jack or Queen appears in the second position only are:
#J = “Sw” + index (+[?])
#J = “Sw" + index (+[?])
#Q :spades: = “Sw” + index + “R”
#Q = “Sw” + index + “R”
# J:heart: = “St” + index (+[?])
#J = “St” + index (+[?])
#Q:heart: = “St” + index + “R”
#Q :spades: = “St” + index + “R”
#J = “Sn” + index (+[?])
#J :heart: = “Sn” + index (+[?])
#Q :spades: = “Sn” + index + “R”
#Q :heart: = “Sn” + index + “R”
#J :diamonds: = “Sm” + index (+[?])
#J :spades: = “Sm” + index (+[?])
#Q :diamonds: = “Sm” + index + “R”
#Q = “Sm” + index + “R”
400-499 = “Sr”
#J :heart: = “Sl” + index (+[?])
#J = “Sl” + index (+[?])
#Q :heart: = “Sl” + index + “R”
#Q :clubs: = “Sl” + index + “R”
#J = “Str” + index (+[?])
#J = “Str” + index (+[?])
#Q = “Str” + index + “R”
#Q = “Str” + index + “R”
#J :clubs: = “Sk” + index (+[?])
#J = “Sk” + index (+[?])
#Q :clubs: = “Sk” + index + “R”
#Q = “Sk” + index + “R”
800-899 = “Sf”
#J :diamonds: = “Sp” + index (+[?])
#J :clubs: = “Sp” + index (+[?])
#Q :diamonds: = “Sp” + index + “R”
#Q :clubs: = “Sp” + index + “R”
Please let me know if you need more examples or further clarification.
When a King is in the First position, It takes precedence over the suit combination and is pronounced “H.” When a King is in the second position, it is silent, regardless of what the first card is. As always, a face card in the first position takes precedence.
“K♣Q♦” may be “Harp”
“Q♣K♦” may be “Rope”
“9♠K♦” may be “Mop”
“K♠5♥” may be “Huddle”
There are 8 distinct pairs where both cards are kings. These follow the same rules as has been described throughout. The first King takes precedent, beginning the word with an “H”, then the King in the second position, silent as always, is read next. Finally, the suit pair is read.
K:spades:K:heart:” could be “Hat”. “H + [silence] + ”
The following text has not been edited since the original post aside from being stricken out.