Interview with the winner of the 2018 Canadian Memory Championship

The CMC interview Ezequiel Valenzuela, the new 2018 Canadian Memory Champion, after the 2018 Canadian Memory Championship.
CMC –Congratulations Ezequiel on winning the 2018 Canadian Memory Championship.

EV- Thanks.

CMC — So, you are 17 years old. When did you start having an interest in memory techniques? How did you learn about memory techniques?

EV — About 2 years ago, we had a substitute teacher come to our class. He talked to us about memory techniques, and I did’t pay too much attention but I was still impressed when I found he had memorized all of our names. But it is my friend, A. McAdams, a classmate who really got me interested in it. He showed more interest in it than I did at first. And then I could see he didn’t spend much time studying anymore and still got good grades, and he began to think about becoming a memory champion; I thought I could become that as well.

CMC– So you started training with memory techniques about 2 years ago?

EV– Yes, but I would train my memory only 10 minutes a week for the first 6 months; it didn’t help much. I really started to train 1 hour to 1 1/2 hour per day just one and a half years ago.

CMC– What happened then? What made you suddenly increase your training regimen?

EV– Well, at first all I had to work with was my friend’s book, “Moonwalking with Einstein.” But 1 1/2 year ago, I got a new book, by Dominic O’Brien, “You Can Have An Amazing Memory.” I was inspired by that book as I was not a strong student just like the author Dominic and I could relate to him.

CMC– When you started applying yourself more to memory techniques, did you start noticing a difference in the amount of time you spent studying for school?

EV — Yes, it wasn’t long before I started studying no more than 5-10 minutes before any class and get an 80% when others would study maybe an hour for the same test to get the same results.

CMC– So you were spending time on memory techniques and that saved you time?

EV — Yes, even during class it made a difference: Once I was just listening to the teacher, making mental notes while still appearing bored and distracted while the other students were all taking written notes. The teacher noticed that and started saying things. So, without looking at the board, I started recalling point by point the whole lesson back to him. He was stunned.

CMC. What about your grades. Did they improve?

EV —I was failing in History. My percentage was like 40% for the year. But then the end of year exam could replace your mark for the whole year if it was better. I passed easily with over 80% mark.

CMC– Was that test easy?

EV — No, it was hard.

CMC– When did you start thinking you might be able to win the Canadian Memory Championship?

EV– Before the 2017 Canadian Memory Championship, I was already confident I was going to win. I told so to my good friends. I went and my results were a total disaster. My friends laughed. Still, I decided to continue training anyway.

CMC — What kind of memory systems do you use?

EV — I use the Major System for numbers, and used a 3 digit system today to set the new Canadian Memory Championship Record at Numbers.

And I established the new Speed Cards Record for the Canadian Memory Championships today using a 2 cards per image block system invented by Lance Tschirhart.

Words are my favorite Memory Discipline even though I am not very good at it.

CMC — What are your daily memory habits?

EV — I wake up every day at 4:30 am. Then I do 10 minutes of meditation.

CMC — What kind of meditation do you do?

EV — Well, we can skip that if you prefer.

CMC — No, this is very interesting. Do you use beads to meditate or a meditative song?

EV — No, I just focus on my breathing and try not to think about anything. Then, I head downstairs to the computer and spend an average of 1 to 3 hours a day training my memory every weekday, a bit more during the weekends. And this is not something I feel is imposed on me, it is something I want to do. If I go 3 days without doing it, I won’t feel good about it as if I am out of shape.

CMC– So, your self-esteem is sort of tied to you being in top mental shape?

EV– Yea, and I am vegan too, you can mention that. And I jog 3 times per week.

CMC — How did you find the competition today?

EV– I was nervous. I found the event stressful. It never gets easy. I found my main opponent, Eric Li menacing.

CMC — Can I write that down too?

EV — Yes. I honestly don’t like memory competitions. I much prefer memory training at home. Competitions are too stressful, they’re a bit like school but now I am in College and I find it much more interesting. I much prefer memory training at home to memory competitions.

CMC — Ah! Your mom as just arrived to pick you up, you have to go, thanks for this interview.

EV– We can continue this online. Bie now.