Among all the competitions happening around the world, my 3 favorites are the USA, Welsh and Cambridge/Friendly Memory Competitions.
I always wanted to go to one of the competitions here in Europe but each time I was either, not well prepared or did not have time. I ‘work’ full time at the hospital, in addition to my studies.
Most people on here are from the USA, so I have written this guide to help you guys as the USA MC is a closed event. If I ever was going to one, here is how I would train.
Disclaimer: Please note that I’m not a champion or even a mentathlete. I have never taken part in any competitions. But I have studied the various techniques used by the memory champions over the years. So please take this with a grain of salt. If you follow this training and do not become the next USA memory champ, don’t lay the blame on me please. Nelson Dellis is just too strong.
Keep your training tools as simple and real as possible. Don’t bother with games like memory ladder or software like Memocamp. You need to get into competition mode as from Day 1. Just get a Speedstack Timer and use only pens and papers like in the competitions.
The USA Championship is mostly a speed event one. So your aim is to increase your speed.
As I see the USA events, I can group them in 3 categories:
Speed Numbers, Cards (If you are using the same system for both the numbers and the cards.)
Random Words, Poetry
Names & Faces
and finally, Tea Party which is a combination of all the above.
I’ll be using the same set of images for the numbers and cards, so I grouped them together.
Poetry is just like memorizing words but with punctuations.
I’ll only talk about memorizing numbers. You can use the same steps for the cards as they use the same set of images.
My motto is K.I.S.S. Wang Feng became memory champion with only 100 images, no PAO or whatever.
So I’ll go with a 2 digit system because this is the best system which strikes a balance between fast encoding of numbers into images and the amount of images you can retain in 5 minutes.
I’ll show you in a minute why you need not bother with such details like PAO or Dominic. There are no hour events in the USA so the system need not be highly developed like for the WLC.
You won’t take months to master the system and you won’t have that much repeat images because you’ll only have to memorize numbers for 5 minutes.
For Session 1: You will be focusing on your images for now. Do not try the speed cards. Do only the speed numbers. Create a set of 100 images for the numbers using whatever systems feel the best for you: Dominic, Major, etc. Just create 100 images. Do not attach objects or actions to them yet.
You can do this easily in 1 hour.
I’ll go for a modified version of a major system with a combination of images that comes to my mind immediately when I think of certain numbers.
So the modified major system will be:
0: O (Looks similar)
1: l (Looks similar)
2: D (Deux in French)
3: M (The 3 looks like an M when you tilt your head to the right!)
4: A (The 4 looks like an A)
5: S (Looks similar)
6: b (Looks similar)
7: F (F is the mirror image of 7 with a strikethrough)
8: H (Huit in French)
9:g (Looks similar)
I do have images predefined for certain numbers in my mind like 0:ball; 1: sword; 2: Swan, 24: Jack Bauer in 24; 25: Santa Claus, etc.
You should always use images that are personal to you!
Now on to fixing the images into your mind.
Note: Do not attempt to memorize or use a journey! I repeat do not memorize!
Try to reach the time I have given you below.
Session 1 can be subdivided into 2 parts: Reading & Linking.
Reading can be further subdivided into 2 parts: Fast reading & slow reading.
Reading is just seeing the image associated with the number in your mind.
Fast reading is where you see your image in your mind when you read a pair of numbers or a card. You need to decrease your reading time to a minimum to increase your speed. You need not see the whole image in your mind. Just an impression is enough but this impression must be unique so as to know which image you had in mind.
Slow reading is where you go over your image in details, trying to imprint it in your memory. Use all your senses. Try to see it just as if it is in front of you. You can stop slow reading later on when you have all your images in your head and you know your images like the back of your hand.
So for the cards, you must reach a fast reading time of 30s for 100 numbers.
I took the time from this chinese guide: http://www.360doc.com/content/10/0517/17/1454312_28083045.shtml
The linking part is where you use a fixed action for your image and just focus on this action. Like if you are using James bond as an image for 07. Don’t use him shooting a gun in one image and kicking someone in another image. Always use this fixed action (like shooting) each time in the same position.
Also use only 1 action for 1 image. Do not use the ‘shooting’ action with both James Bond (07) and Jack Bauer (24). You must have 100 unique actions for your 100 images.
You need to find actions that occur in split seconds in your mind. Actions like shooting, cutting, etc. are actions that occur in split seconds and have the highest impact in your mind.
Slow actions like “hitting a golf ball and seeing it fly in the air to land on your next image” takes too much time.
You’ll really cut down your time if you master this. For the linking part: aim for 40s for 100 numbers.
So you do 30 minutes of READING and 30 minutes of LINKING every day.
Combining Reading & Linking!
Still do not attempt to memorize anything here!
You need to combine the reading and linking part once you reach the times I specified above.
Use a random number generator and print out a sheet of numbers used just like in the competitions. Cross out each time you have read a pair of numbers.
Record the time taken for each reading and linking you do.
Now you’ll create images by using 4 numbers or 2 pairs of numbers.
From this set: 07251102
You’ll divide the numbers into sets of four mentally: 0725 1102
and picture the first pair doing his action on the second pair.
Here are my images:
07 : James Bond (Shooting)
25: Santa Claus
I’ll picture James Bond shooting Santa Claus head’s off. Always from the same point of view. Always in the same direction. If I picture the bullet going through Santa’s left eye, I’ll always try to picture the same image each time. This may sound contrary to popular advice given but I’ve noticed that if you keep the same set of image and action each time, your time decreases a lot.
You’ll need to picture this in less than 1 second.
For the next 4 numbers:
11 : Chopsticks (Piercing through)
I’ll picture a pair of chopsticks piercing through a swan’s neck always at the same spot.
Note down whatever scene you pictured for each pair and try to recall the same scene each time.
If you do that for everyday for a month, I assure you will cut down on your memorization time.
Actually Reading Faster
Now you’ll need to learn to speed read for the numbers. Try reading ‘breakthrough rapid reading’ which is a good book on this subject.
I’ll try to expand this guide when I have more free time. If you have any tips to share, please do so.