Ask a memory champion

(Ben Pridmore) #201

I’ve never tried to use memory techniques for exams or anything like that (the last CIMA exam I took was in 2002; I didn’t seriously start creating memory techniques until 2003), so I can’t really advise on that kind of thing. Really, all the effort I’ve put into memory was solely for the purpose of winning memory competitions - there’s no reason why you can’t use journeys to study for accountancy exams, but they’re mainly useful for long strings of numbers and useless information like that…


On that commercial with the cool art that you did for the Guggenheim Museum, those images reminded me a whole lot of the way I connect objects while memorizing. At one point there was a bullet hitting a target on an octopus. You use 3 images per loci, and I have all three of those images in my list, as well as almost every other image in the commercial. Did they actually ask you how you memorized specific things in the museum and then base the art off of those specific objects, or did they just make it up?

(Ben Pridmore) #203

A little from column A, and a little from column B. I went around the museum and memorised the works of art, and told them what my images were… and then they said things like “we’ve decided to make it an octopus.” So really, the images in the video don’t look much like mine at all. :slight_smile:


Anyway, the commercial looks very cool.


Did you ever dreamed about your mnemonic images?

If you had to choose just one, would you rather win the WMC 2013 or a othello championship?

(Ben Pridmore) #206

I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed about my images, with one exception - when I was first learning my images back in 2003, I learned them by reciting the list to myself over and over again. I woke up one morning, dozed off again, looked at the clock to see it was only a couple of minutes later and thought to myself “KD Lang must have a magic cape that makes time run slowly…”

‘Cape’ is my image for 6cQc, and KD Lang is 6cKc. :slight_smile:

As for the choice, the WMC, most definitely! Memory is a bigger deal to me than othello or any of the other games I play.


Hi Ben, I hope your training is going well.
When reciting your lists do you recite then in numerical order
i.e. SUS, SUT, SUN, SUM, SUR, SUL, etc
or do you do it in a rhyming fashion as I have seen some recommend
i.e. SUT, TUT, NUT, MUT, RUT, LUT etc.
To aid learning the images I had the idea of making a Ute room which would enclose images of
Seuss, Toot, Newt, Mutant, a Root, a Lute etc.
Just wondering what your preference was?

(Ben Pridmore) #208

Fascinating question! I have always recited them in numerical order, probably because that’s the order I created the images in. But there’s no reason not to do it the other way - I don’t think it would make very much difference, but maybe I’m wrong…


Hey, Ben, can you tell us more about your appearance on Die Deutschen Meister? And what went wrong with your memorization? And how was the experience, in general?


Do you think that all of that time you spent memorizing a deck of cards before using techniques gave you an edge later, or was all that improvement “unused” later on?
At that same time, you won the poetry event without techniques. Do you remember how you did that, as far as how much you tried to memorize, if you covered up the paper to try to recall, read through it many times, those sorts of things?

Dorothea didn’t think techniques were very important for poetry either…

(Ben Pridmore) #211

Details are on my blog now!

Tomorrow, hopefully, I’ll come back here and talk about the details of how to memorise what we had to memorise on the show! :slight_smile:

(Ben Pridmore) #212

I don’t think it was a huge help - really, I improved by leaps and bounds as soon as I’d started using memory techniques, and then again a few years later when I came up with my own system. I think it would have been just the same if I hadn’t spent a couple of years trying to memorise a pack of cards, technique-free, every now and then.

As for the poetry, it was a long time ago, but I think I just read a line or two at a time then repeated it to myself, and every four lines or so recalled it from the start. I didn’t have any particular plan for it in advance, I just made up that approach on the spot. Luckily, it worked pretty well!


Hello Ben. I would like to ask you a few questions.
I’m thinking about using the PAO system with 1000 persons, 1000 actions and 1000 objects. I would like to use a variation.

For example, I want to memorize three digits.
If the first digit is odd then the person is a male.
If the digit is even or “0” then the person is a female.
If the first digit is “1” or “2”, then the first vowel of the surname will be “A”.
If the first digit is “3” or “4”, then the first vowel of the surname will be “B”.
If the first digit is “5” or “6”, then the first vowel of the surname will be “C”.
And so forth.
I consider the “0” like a “10”. So if the first digit is “9” or “0”, then the first vowel of the surname will be a " U".
The second and third digits will be like a normal PAO using the code that use Dominic O’Brien (A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, E=5, S=6, G=7, H=8, N=9, O=0)
Examples: 142 = Dave Barry, 242=Drew Barrymore, 343=David Beckham,
944=Donna Duplantier, 044=David Duchovny.

What do you think about this variation?
What do you think about using the PAO system with 1000 persons, 1000 actions and 1000 objects?
Are 1000 persons, actions and objects too many?
I think that I remember better if I repeat the first name in different numbers. For example 343=David Beckham, 044=David Duchovny. What is your opinión?
I appreciate your comments and/or suggestions.


Sent to Ben Pridmore. 4 Digit System. ANYONE?

(Ben Pridmore) #215

Ed Cooke tried a 1000-person, 1000-action, 1000-object system back in around 2005, but I don’t think he ever fully got to grips with it. I would think that the biggest problem is the actions - are there really 1000 distinct things it’s possible for a person to do to an object?

Maybe it would be a good idea to have 1000 people and objects, but just 100 actions? That would have the advantage of putting 8 digits on a location, so five locations will fit neatly on a line of 40. But on the other hand, I do think 9 digits is always going to be better than 8…

As for the specific system, as always, my rule is that if it works for you, do it! It’s an interesting idea, it just seems to me that it would take a long time to learn…


Do you think it’s better to do PAO, PA, or a simple O system for memorizing cards/digits? I tend to think that PAO is better because you use less loci, but it’s a lot harder to learn all the Ps, As and Os.

(Simon Luisi) #217

Congratulations Zoomy on achieving your goal at the World Memory Championships!
(28 seconds at Speed Cards is always impressive.)
My question today has to do with the images you first used to memorize cards, and I presume, numbers. Did you ditch those images completely? Did you recycle them into your Ben System? Or do you still use them occasionally somehow? I believe you achieved under a minute at Speed Cards with your first system. Could you still use that system to memorize cards or would that be very difficult now?
I’m just curious.

(Ben Pridmore) #218

If only there was a more helpful answer I could give, but this question is the best possible example of “it varies from person to person” - some people find a PAO system works much better, others find it’s easier to be creative and memorable if you just use objects.

For me, I prefer to use my list of images which consists of some people and some objects, and put three of them on each location, so I use the same number of loci as I would with a PAO system, and I get the advantage of being able to link the last one on each location with the first one on the next. But that might not work for you, so try a few different things and see what feels right!

(Ben Pridmore) #219

I incorporated nearly all of my original 52 card images and 100 number images into my bigger systems when I created them. Because I originally used the Major system with two consonants, and then expanded it into consonant-vowel-consonant, all of my first batch of images fitted into the pattern somewhere.

And no, I couldn’t use the old system any more - it’s been so long that I don’t remember what each single card used to represent… :slight_smile:


Hi Ben,
Have you ever tried memorizing events for ‘today in history’?
For example, if someone gave you a date (without the year) you could tell him, say, five events that happened on that date in history.
What do you reckon would be a good way to memorize something like this?