Card deck memorization : challenge to get below 2 minutes at speed cards


(Nicholas Mihaila) #81

I slept terribly last night and my attempt at cards just didn’t go well, so I decided to take the day off. I’m also thinking about alternating attempting very fast times and going slower to focus on image interactions and linking with loci.

Congrats on getting sub 2:30! 2 minutes is getting really close.

That’s an impressive jump. Almost no errors too.

What’s your next goal after achieving sub 2 minutes? Sub 1:30? Sub 1 minute? For me, I’d like to one day get below the 30 second mark, but I know that’ll take a long time. It’s a long road with 2704 images to practice.


If I may suggest, you should perhaps try to ditch the going-fast approach for a few days. It is important to try and make oneself uncomfortable when one wants to improve, but it is equally important to develop good technique, i.e. making consistent and clear enough images as well as good placing on loci (possibly some interaction with the loci themselves). Try to figure out what pace is giving you good chances of a perfect recall and increase the speed from there. The suggestion above to work on visualization runs is one that I also found to be quite efficient!

And also, Joyeux Noël :slight_smile:

(Léo Lebarque) #83

I think that’s a good idea, maybe using the slower run as a warm-up for quicker ones

two good attemps this morning :

  • 115.9sec 0 error
  • and a new PB at 105.8sec

Challenge is done for me, but i will try to get sub1’30 , reach level 10 on memory league an then my long term goal will be sub 1min. I will also create my number system in order to be able to compete in the next saison of the league


Thanks RubiksKid !

Congratulations ! You nailed it !!

Well the point is to get beyond my comfort zone. So I prefer to push myself with the help of the metronome for now.

I know it might seem stubborn, but I want to get to 2 minutes first.
Then work a way down to 0 error.

Having said that, I did reflect on my technique today, having read on the “post your times” thread that it was good practice to work on images creation without memorizing (simply going through the deck forming images without putting them to loci).

What’s great about this practice is that it does not exhaust the available stock of memory palaces. So it can be done many times.

Here are my times for today…
2:12 28 errors at 32BPM
2:17 26 errors at 32BPM
2:37 14 errors at 32BPM

Since I managed to get to 2:12, which is the normal time when 32BPM is followed faithfully, I will raise the metronome to 34 tomorrow.

(I know, that’s even more stubborn from me lol)

Joyeux Noël guys :slight_smile:

(Nicholas Mihaila) #85

Today went all right, but not great. I had to work late last night.

I thought that was a good idea, so that’s what I did. The first run was slow, and recall was very smooth (no errors), but the second run had some hiccups. I didn’t have any errors, but it took longer than it should have to link some images together, and reconstructing the deck took a little while too. My time was about 2:55.

The biggest issue for me right now is the time it takes to recall certain images. It’s still really high variance, although I am seeing progress. It just takes an extremely long time to even just see each image once.

Congratulations on the your times! Well done! :slight_smile:

What kind of system will it be? I’m just curious.

That’s one of the things I like about it too. If I use the same memory palace more than once in a day, ghosting can be a real problem.

And Joyeux Noël to you guys too. I’m actually studying French, although I’m not very proficient yet.

(Léo Lebarque) #86

Thank you !

It will be a 3 digit system, based on major system with person and object as images, not PA, just 1000 different images.

3 perfect recall today :

  • 103.53 sec
  • 98.5 sec( new PB )
  • 100.44 sec

(Nicholas Mihaila) #87

I got a new PB today: 2:38, no errors, and recall was in order. My new short-term goal will be sub 2:30.

Okay, cool. That’s a good choice. A 3-digit system based on the major system is pretty much ideal. And the person/object combination works well too. That’s basically what I use for numbers (and binary). Oh, and if you’re not already, I would recommend constructing your system using Excel or some equivalent program.

edit Here are some great resources for word generation too:
Major System Database

Excellent! It looks like your short-term goal of 1:30 is just around the corner. :slight_smile:

(Daniel Richard Guilfoyle) #88

don’t be so hard on yourself, I am the same age and only just recently got to a 1.5 minute for a memorization of a deck. Some of my tricks and trades are the following: first, before you start to memorize a deck, go through a warm up. Mentally review each card in each suit as if each one was connected to each other, get the images tied to each other in some way. Then, prepare a certain memory journey and try to count as to where each location is numerically. Last, try to use subvocalization when you seen the cards, either whisper or say out loud a fictional story between every two card as if the characters are interacting with each other, give them a two second dialogue or action between them both and then move on to the next location, etc, etc. After a few attempts of doing this step by step, you will greatly reduce your times and have fun with making up stories as you memorize, if this is anything else you need, give me a message. Happy holidays.


@ guilfoyled Thanks for your sympathy !
Well, a challenge is not meant to be easy, is it ? :wink:
I’m curious about your linking technique.
Actually, I use the PAO system. So each of the three cards are already linked together.
But it’s true that I don’t link each group of 3 cards together.
Which leads to a question : Do you use the PAO system or 52 independant images linked together ?
Some weeks ago, I considered linking each triad, and then found it too time consuming.But I understand that it would also make it more sticky in memory (even reduce the time to find striking images I guess). So thank you for the suggestion.
Also, thanks for your step by step warmup suggestion.
Right now, my warmup is to visualize each image.
One run for the actions, one run for the objects, and the final run for the persons.
And I also move multiple times inside the memory palace that I will be using, counting each loci, (actually, sometimes I spend like 5 minutes, just doing this).
About the subvocalization, do you mean that you subvocalize the dialogue between each card while memorizing ? That’s interesting, because usually, people try to delete subvocalization instead of doing it. Does it not slow you down ? (especially if you spend 2 seconds doing it…)

Hey guys, what are your thoughts on the subject ? :slight_smile:

(Simon Luisi) #90

I think subvocalization is more important than the imagery. To me, the image is the canyon and the subvocalization is the echo. You don’t need to see the canyon to get the echo (although it must be there even if you don’t see it), but you do need to voccalise if you want it to come back at you as a memory.

(Nicholas Mihaila) #91

I took today pretty easy and just practiced image recall. Although I didn’t get a new PB, I was on pace several times for sub-50 seconds, but then I’d hesitate on one of the last pairs. I can definitely tell though that my average recall time is substantially lower than it was just two weeks ago, so that’s good. Hopefully I’ll consistently get sub 1 minute in the near future. It looks like it’s just about time and consistent practice.

I’ve actually found myself subvocalizing dialogue between images before, and while it does make the interactions more unique in memory, there’s a definite time cost associated with it. I think that if you asked any of the elite memorizers (Alex, Ben, etc.), none of them would say they use dialogue. There just isn’t enough time. I think you could, however, include basic sound effects, like the sound that an object might make when crashing to the floor, etc. I do that a lot myself, but I think dialogue is too much.

(Simon Luisi) #92

di·a·logue: conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie.

I don’t believe conversations occur between cards during memorization. For me, it is the name of the cards that has to be heard in the mind but I often do get away without doing this perfectly. If I think there is a possibility that I will recall the card correctly, then I may move on to the next one with no image visualization or subvocalization. A card may produce a distinct effect onto the loci and this effect may lead to recalling the card correctly.

I do not use PAO so my views here may not fit this particular technique too well.

(Nicholas Mihaila) #93

Yeah, it’s the same for me. Each card pair is one syllable, so I read through a deck while subvocalizing 26 syllables. Some phonemes are equivalent too. K♦ J♠, for instance, is “jarj”, which is represented as Jar Jar Binks, but I may read it as “garsh”, which is understood to mean the same thing.

(Nicholas Mihaila) #94

I got a time of 2:22 today, but there were errors, but not with recall. For some reason I flipped the suits when decoding the images during memorization. This is really strange because I’ve never made this mistake before, and in this deck I made this mistake 3 times. I had everything memorized and somehow made mistakes on the easiest part! :persevere: Also, the second half of the deck was memorized very rapidly. If I had done the same pace for the first half, I would have been well below the 2 minute mark. Anyway, that came off as a little negative, but I’m actually very happy. Sub-2 minutes is within reach!

edit New PB for image recall time: ~55 seconds. My pace was slow compared to other runs I had, but all of those ended with massive hesitation toward the end. :confused: If I were to extrapolate my best time from my fastest 10-card segment it would put me at 30 - 40 seconds.


That’s what I’m afraid indeed.
Yes I use that kind of noise sometimes. Like today, I imagined a balloon exploding.

I know some people associate each card to sound using the major system. But that’s not what I did when I started memorizing. And so I think that’s not an option for me, unfortunately.

What I did today…

First, my regular practice with the metronome which gave this…
2:16 18 errors
2:22 22 errors
2:29 29 errors
(at 34BPM)

Then I analysed my errors.
Especially why some of the triads don’t get memorized.

And I try to find 10 different ways I could have imagined the triad in a more memorable way.

Yesterday, I also started using the memory league software.
I’m at level 5 right now.
I was not using the metronome.
But I actually find it harder that way, as I am surprised when the timer goes off, and then the session is finished.
With the metronome, I know at least if I am quick or slow.
Anyway, I will try to continue on memory league without the metronome. I hope to get to level 6 soon, as I feel that level is within my reach.

(Nicholas Mihaila) #96

Today went all right, but not great. Lately I’ve been starting by doing one “read-through” with the deck without memorization followed by an untimed run used to practice image linking, and after that I try to go for speed. Everything went according to plan until I got to the speed run. Memorization and linking went very fast, but image recall was very slow. So slow, in fact, that I gave up halfway through because I knew my time would be really bad. Recall time is still extremely high variance, and that run was on the slow end. :confounded: I’m hoping to get a recall time of one minute combined with a linking time of less than one minute to push me below the 2-minute mark.

Having said that, I think the narrative for the first run was well constructed, or at the very least it was memorable. Here it is if anybody’s interested:

A creature flies down and gets tangled in the hair of a lady wearing a kimono and holding a stuffed elephant. Startled, the elephant jumps down, picks up a spoon and then hurls it onto a tube, which slides into a drink dispenser. The drink dispenser then shoots soda into a demon’s mouth, and then he rides a sunfish that picks up a present and drops it onto an old, rusty ship. Being so rusty, the present falls right through, and out comes Dopey who jumps in a spaceship. Immediately after, a fire snake hops across the windshield and then burns the tail of the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. With his tail now on fire, the rabbit hops away, jumping on Dot’s head in the process. Flustered, Dot rides a giant frog to get away. Shortly after, the frog folds a piece of paper into a crane, which flies away on a dragon’s tail. The dragon flies for a short while, and then he’s greeted by Barney with a warm hug, which somehow disturbs a scout droid which falls from the sky into a cushion. After landing on the cushion, [some Star Wars character who I don’t know the real name of] walks up to a diving board, but a bunch of tiny spiders have already beaten him to it, and they begin launching themselves off the diving board, landing on Bowser’s back. Bowser, being quite afraid of little spiders, runs off, accidentally colliding with Poliwhirl. :rofl:

That’s a really smart approach.


Happy new year to all the memory artists out there !

So you try to get below 5 minutes at recall ?
I actually don’t bother too much on the recall time. I know it should be below 5 minutes for competition, but my main goal is on memorizing quickly.
Actually, it is a problem for me on memory league because recall is limited. So I will have to work on it as well.

And thank you very much for your narrative ! :slight_smile:
It’s great to have more details on your technique.
So you have 1 objet for each card right ? How to you decide which action to use ?

On my side, I found out that I regressed on my recognition time.
I spent more than 2 minutes for the actions, such a bad performance !
It’s true that I changed a couple of cards lately, but I did not expect it to be so bad !
I hope that’s because I’m tired today.

So I decided I will focus the rest of the week on the recognition time.
It’s a priority for me now.

(Simon Luisi) #98

Focusing on recall times is something that I plan on doing too, but not before I start getting good scores in the sub 30 second range.

Bad joke aside, I find that the best way to work on recall speed is by learning to review a deck quickly in the mind right after memorizing it. Often, I don’t do this review in order. I just let my mind goes where ever in the castle, as long as it does it fast. Only if there is no spark toward there or there will I decide upon an orderly path and I will promptly leave that path to follow any lead that I feel needs to be investigated right away.

(Nicholas Mihaila) #99

And a happy new year to you too! :slight_smile:

Actually I was referring to the process of just recognizing images, not recreating a deck. I’ve never timed myself on recall time, although now I’m curious. 5 minutes sounds like a long time, but I think it would be very easy to exceed.

My system actually isn’t PA, but it does have some strong PAO qualities. The system that I use is phonetic. Each phoneme corresponds to one image, and each image uniquely corresponds to a card pair. For instance, 2♣ 2♦ is read as “ten”, and the corresponding image is a tent. The actions I use don’t encode anything themselves, but they’re very useful for linking images. My system consists of both people (or other animate things) and objects, approximately 50/50, so linking naturally resembles a PAO structure.

The difficulty is coming up with logical linking very quickly, and to do this it takes an obscene amount of practice. You need to know what each image does in any situation.

I haven’t practiced yet today. We’ll see how things go.


I’ve been doing this myself lately and I’ve found it to be very helpful.

(Nicholas Mihaila) #100

I just got a time of 1:59 without errors!! BUT the challenge isn’t complete yet because I need to qualify this time. This was my third attempt today and I was getting very frustrated with image recall giving me problems, so after spending over 5 seconds trying to recall an image, I would pause the timer, look it up, restart the timer, and then place the image in the locus and continue. I did this twice, so this isn’t a “true” time, but it is a time I would have achieved without hesitation (Actually, it would have been closer to 1:50.).

In light of this, I’m going to spend the next couple weeks or so focusing almost exclusively on recall speed, and then I’ll try again.

Also, just for kicks, here’s the narrative behind this run:

A bodysnatcher emerges from the ground, attacking a pug. Narrowly escaping, the pug picks up a sheet of corrugated metal and runs into an angel who then picks up a marker and draws a mustache on Charmander’s face. Perturbed, Charmander picks up a hole puncher and tries to clip off some of Tweety’s feathers, but Tweety makes her escape in a helicopter and then crashes into a pool, disturbing a kirin which runs into R2-D2 who hijacks a school bus. Being a droid without arms, R2-D2 quickly crashes the bus, causing an hourglass to fall over, which flings a chain into a led shield which slides into a gnome. Quite surprised, the gnome jumps on a brontosaurus’ back, but instead of running, the brontosaurus decides to snack on some sourdough bread, flipping over a lacrosse [thingy, whatever it’s called] that turns on a DOS computer. For whatever reason, there’s some yogurt on top of the computer that drips down into a pan. Stephanie (a character I made up) plays with the yogurt for a second and then wipes off her hands on Mrs Warp, who gets up and starts typing on a typewriter.

Even though this was a “qualified” time, I’m quite happy with it. :laughing: