A New 2-Card System



Yes this absolutely answers it :slight_smile:

I’m just now trying to work out a system for binary (never even thought about how I’d do it before USAMC), and this definitely helps. I’m still only about 30% through making a new 3-digit/2-card (block) major system, so I’ll probably send you some questions as I work through more of it. Thanks! Congrats on the 720 btw :slight_smile: That’s insane…

Also, two quick things: (1) What’s your basic approach to organizing your “families”? Do you try to connect them with your major system in any way, or is it pretty much random? (2) Out of curiosity, where did you hear about Hannes using a 3x3? I’ve barely been able to find anything on him…


He’s the international man of mystery.

I got this info about Hannes from the fellow Deutscher Boris Konrad himself. So I’m pretty sure it’s true! Simon uses it too, even though he isn’t incredibly good at it, to be honest. I’m holding him to the standard of his own digit performance, which is excellent.

Thanks :smiley: I have to admit I’m really surprised at how easy it seems. I think a 1000 object list just translates really well into these 3x3 shapes. 720 seems incredible, but it only equates to 240 digits in terms of the number of images, so you have already moved far beyond that level.

The “families”…I tried a few different approaches. One was to think of things in terms of their 0/1 “inverse” versions…




It doesn’t work. You get used to reading the positions of the 1’s to determine the Major sounds, so I really don’t see them that way, and I doubt anyone would.

It is more natural to consider



in the same family.

But it turns out that it doesn’t matter what family they’re in. You start to divide things into a) striking designs and b) designs that are just sort of random. Maybe 100 - 150 are striking, and getting to know those will be a way to cut off a lot of time without too much effort But how similar they are to each other isn’t that important after all.



I just kind of imagine the statue of liberty (011 in my 999 list) standing over to the side, when I review it slowly. I guess I sort of think of that when I read it quickly also by now. And one thing I do is a lot of 1:00 recognition drills, about 15 per day, where I say and understand the objects as quickly as possible even if I don’t really see them well at all. I try to get top scores, and when I’m done, I go through really quick and really try to memorize those really nice, clean shapes like…


And ones kind of like that. Just go through really quick and make something up, usually find a way to make it look like the object or something, and it’s easy to remember what you thought of the first time when you go through the images slowly and try to think about it.

And those that I know extremely well…maybe about 25-30 at this time, are just awesomely fast. I wish I knew all of them like that. But the other ones are getting fairly fast too just from learning how to read the Major sounds off of the rows of 1’s. And of course it helps to already know the 1000 so well. I’ve been using those successfully for over 6 months now, and I can read about 110 of them per minute. With the binary, I read 75 once, but it’s usually more around 60 for now. But just before the championship I was maxing out at something like 40 per minute. And there are only 512, so they are probably even easier to learn than the numbers, and may help to learn the numbers too.

Good job on the first 30%. I’d look over them a lot because then when you’re done, you’ll actually be done, rather than just at square 1 when you have to start reading and learning them. If you fill out the list at a leisurely pace, you can learn it in the same amount of time as if you filled it out in a week, I believe.


LociInTheSky, I think it’s a very clever idea to play with the phonetics so that you can get 2704 images with half as many original syllables. Since your results demonstrate that it’s possible within a reasonable amount of time to train yourself to say “Fred” as “Freed” and think “Wilma” for the shadow, it looks like you’re golden. To me, that was the only unproven point, and your bravery to persist through initial difficulties with that is a lesson for us all. Congratulations and best of luck in future events!


Thank you much, sir!

I have enough experience to comment on that point now, which I’ll do in a second. I have recently broken through a new, long-standing card plateau. That fact plus an unrelated one has given me back the confidence, and then some, that I had in the system before I even finished with the design of the phonetics, when I first had that idea you mention that makes the method possible.

Learning to say “Freed” instead of “Fred” was very quick. I was able to utter most of the syllables near automatically (though not always immediately, and that is to say that the utterance followed from the recognition of the card pair without thought, even when the recognition of the card pair took time). It was a short step from there, through flashcards and repetition mostly, to being able to utter the syllables before consciously recognizing the card pair. This is the level I am at today. It is the third to highest level of card-pair recognition. The penultimate level is the simultaneous utterance and visualization of all card pairs (which I have achieved for very few), and the most one can hope to accomplish is to move to visualization unconsciously, with or without the utterance. In this case the mere sense-stimulus of the card pair is enough to force the image into mind. I have achieved this with a couple card pairs as well, but not truly, in that the lack of detail of the imagery in those cases indicates hesitation that stems from uncertainty.

There is a crucial point to grasp about all of that, and that is that the mechanism by which a user of the Ben System utilizes to draw an image from card pairs is often not the same mechanism utilized by a user of SS! I didn’t foresee this, though I probably should have deduced it from the fact that drawing the image out of the utterance was not the mechanism that I practiced.

And why should it have been, when learning the vocabulary is prerequisite to that ability, while the option of retracing the thought process that I used to name the shadow pairs in the first place was available to me with no further learning?

These facts don’t apply to all card pairs. Many pairs in the Ben System form a word naturally, and no extra learning is needed in those cases. The majority of pairs do not. Of those syllables, one chunk is very similar to a word or forms a part of a word, and one chunk is sheer nonsense. The nonsense chunk is large. Large enough to deter me from the Ben System from the outset.

And for that chunk, one must use the utterance in order to divine the image, in other words: one must learn the vocabulary. Having moved to the verge of regular sub 0:30 decks in just 14 months from beginning to make this system, it could appear that I have learned all of the fundamental skills of the system, and that all there is left to do is hone them.

But it isn’t true at all! The learning of the vocabulary creates a neuronal path that would be strong enough to conjure the 1352 shadows images even faster than I already can! I know that because many users of the Ben System are faster than I am today! It is the third and final neuronal path to cultivate, and I believe it is the most important one!

1)Shadow card pair -> 1b)Syllable (I learned these very quickly by generalizing those few phonetic rules)
2)Shadow card pair -> 2b) Corresponding card pair -> 2c) Corresponding card pair image -> 2d) Semantically similar shadow image (this is the path I use to access the images today).
3) 1a) -> 2d)

This is a shorter path, but it is much harder to learn. While mastering “3)”, my skill at “2)” above should be sufficiently powerful (as it is relegated in favor of the use of “3)”) to give me an edge in speed over any user of the Ben system.

It’s a hypothesis, but I am confident that it is true. I will spend many hours this year developing that skill, so we’ll see.


hi LociInTheSky, I don’t understand which image are you going to use when you face some cases like this:


Both have the same “major system combination” S,Z then J,Sh,Ch and then L

How do you differentiate?


The “Part 2” of my OP is about how to create the second group of 1352 images: the “shadow” images. Each of those images is paired with one of the originals by semantic similarity. In the example you asked, 6s/5s for me is “satchel,” the abbreviation for which is “satch.” Thus, the name for 6h/5h is “saych” by the standard rule of using the alternate “long/short” vowel sound for the shadow image.

“Saych” then is a typical backpack, while “Satchel” is a book bag that hangs on one shoulder, across the body and down at the waist. Saych could be any number of things, such as a purse or even a stack of textbooks if that’s the similar object that comes to mind. But most people would probably think of a backpack like I did. Does that make sense?


Thanks, now I get it.


To anyone who wants to make a 2-card system, or even a 1000 object list, watch an episode of Futurama, or a handful of episodes if you enjoy it. The far out characters and clever futury gadgets are endless. A couple of them did make their way into my list, but I’m watching an episode on Netflix right now, and I believe you could make your entire list out of Futurama animations and the list would be the better for it. Even prosaic objects like a window or a street lamp would be more interesting if you used these animations.


Not sure how I missed this thread before.

Lance, you’d do the world a great favor if you would write a book about this with a bit of “point of entry” writing that makes everything a bit clearer for people. It doesn’t have to be long.

Let me know if you’d be interested in that and I’ll help you in any way I can.


Have you published anything? Do you know how to write?

I have many ideas that I would like to share, and I enjoy writing about them as you can see. If I could define the audience to direct my work toward, I would have a much better idea of which ideas to include, and it would at least be a first step toward being able to colligate and structure everything.

If you could help me figure that out, it would be a great help. I want to write for the largest audience possible, but I also want to write with as much depth as I am able. Neither factor is conducive to the other. I can’t have both. Striking the balance by identifying the audience must be the first step I take.

What is “point of entry” writing?


Oh, I see from your profile that you’ve written quite a bit. Please send me a PM if you have any more ideas about the book. I am interested in the project.


Happy to advise you in any way that I can and will watch for a PM from you.

Point of Entry writing means that you make everything clear to the reader as if they’re encountering the subject for the first time.

I’ll be honest with you:

I’m not a master of doing that.

But I’ve worked really, really hard at getting better and my latest book is the best so far.

The next one will be better

Here’s How To Write A Book About Anything

First, you’ve got to understand a little bit about the four learning types.

There are probably more than four, but let’s just go easy on ourselves.

These are:

  1. The person who wants to know what it is they’ll be learning in great detail.

  2. The person who is more concerned with why it is important before they know what it is.

  3. The person who cares about 1 or 2 after you’ve told them how to do it.

  4. The person who just wants a bunch of action steps and may or may never get to reading parts 1-3.

How to contend with all of these readers at the same time? …

... A Quick Introduction!

Like how about:

In this book you’re going to learn about [specific mnemonic strategy]. I’m going to teach you what exactly it is, including a bit of history. Then I’m going to show you why it’s important and why it works. Then I’ll show you how to use it in great detail. Finally, I’ve give you an ordered list of exactly what to do in easy-to-complete stages.

If you’ve got a book that is filled with multiple techniques, then you can start each chapter this way.

That’s all for now.

Hope this helps!


Hey Lance, what happened to that wiki page on the shadow system you were writing? :smiley:



So am I understanding this system correctly? If I have A2 of Spades, I would differentiate that from A2 of Hearts by using the Shadow image for the latter? If I go with SaTaN for A2 of Spades, then I could use a flaming pitchfork (or Saddam Hussein, for South Park fans) for A2 of Hearts?


Lance, have you done any research into “shadow” systems?

I meant to post that I read an old book a couple of months ago that recommended doubling the amount of numbers/images in one’s system by having e.g. paper and then books as a secondary image (made up example!). Ironically, I can’t remember what the book was, but I’m going to check out Roth to see if it’s there.

Thought you might find that interesting!

Nevertheless, congratulations are due. It seems like this thread is the reason that Alex is now World Champion. So, kudos!


Alex is king of a special case, but he wouldn’t tell you that either because he’s too modest or he doesn’t get it. He’s good at practicing, and he’s good at thinking, so he’s good at improving.

But I have also gotten pretty good by using these methods. To be totally fair, the major system and 3x3 he set up according to my belief that these were the best presumably because he didn’t have a more convincing counter argument. Just to be totally clear for anyone with a little less knowledge than you Graham, I didn’t invent the idea of using the major system for 1000 objects, or the 3x3 binary method (even though I thought that I did at the time, grrr!). But this is the easiest way to put together a most effective card system for users of those techniques, which are also the best or tied for the best methods in their respective disciplines, so hopefully I made cost of entry the upper echelons of advanced tool users.

More than this thread I think the reason that Alex is World Champion rather than just really good but not world champion is that for years we have had extremely frequent interaction. Simon and Hannes from Germany - Now Jonas and Marwin in Sweden and Alex and I in the US. The 6 most likely candidates for world champion today have 3 1-on-1 relationships at their core. I don’t think this is a coincidence, but who could say for sure?

Also, Alex is the best in the world at cards. No one else averages like 20 seconds and has a greater than 75% success rate. That’s an absolutely unheard of level of skill, and the other day he did a deck in 17.08. Take that he’s the only person in the world who uses SS today, and that I am also powerful with cards, and you have a great argument for the system. A few days ago Alex and I got the #1 and #2 spots for XT cards tryout. I did 19.08 and then he did the 17.08 after - a >10% reduction in time that put my time to shame before I even had time to gloat.

Wouldn’t surprise me in the least for him to get here with some other method, but I’d bet my hat that it would take him longer to do.


Excellent point, Lance. Thanks.

Looks like I’ll need to cosy-up to Katie or Marlo!


Couldn’t hurt. Marlo’s been on a very steady incline for the past few years.

(Johnny Mnemonic) #59

May I please have an example on the 2 block method used in the Shadow System. Right now I’m either thinking two parallel journeys or a loci with varying amount of images depending on when the card suit changes order.
The whole thing seems incredibly complicated. And I’m still not sure the vice versa changes in the card suit and number either?! A working model would really help. Thank you.



But, to be clear, you do that or use the alternate/shadow images.