Possible changes to Memory League

Hi ML players,

We have been thinking about some possible changes to Memory League with the aim of making games and matches even more exciting for players and spectators.

One possible change: for Names, International Names and Words, reduce the number of items to be memorized so that more players are capable of memorizing everything in 60 seconds. For example, 20 names instead of 30, 14 international names instead of 30, and 30 words instead of 50.

This would bring those events more in line with Cards, Images and Numbers, in which it is possible for a weaker player to beat a stronger player if the stronger player makes mistakes.

For example, consider a Words game between a strong player who usually scores about 45 and a weaker player who usually scores about 35. With the current rules, this game probably won’t be very interesting - the stronger player is very likely to win, even if they make several mistakes. But with only 30 words to memorize, it’s no longer a foregone conclusion - the weaker player is capable of scoring 30, so if the stronger player makes mistakes, they can be beaten.

Of course, we would need to update the ratings formulae appropriately.

One concern is the possibility of someone losing a game because of a tiny mistake such as a spelling mistake. One suggestion here is that each player could specify the number of items they want to memorize. If I think I might forget a few words or make some spelling mistakes, I might choose to see 35 words during memorization, even though the maximum score possible is 30. If I’m feeling confident, or need to take a risk, I might just see 30 words. This could add an extra tactical element.

Reducing the number of words from 50 to 30 could also allow us to reduce the recall time in all events from 4 minutes to 3 minutes, making matches quicker and more exciting to watch. The main reason we have 4 minutes for recall now is so that slower typists have time to type out all 50 words.

If you have any thoughts on these potential changes, or have suggestions for other changes that might make ML games and matches more exciting, we would love to hear them.


I think that you can make different time controls like it is in chess for example. That could be:

  • blitz,
  • normal,
  • survival.

In blitz mode each competitor would need to memorize let’s say 26 cards, 40 numbers, 30 words, 20 names, 16 international names and 20 images (this is just an example) with a recall time of 2min.

Normal mode would be the same as it actually is on Memory League. I don’t think that it would be appropriate to change these events.

And finally in the survival mode there would be no limit of items to memorize (of course there would be, but some huge number) with recall time of let’s say 6min.

You can also think about creating multiplayer games (for 3 or 4 players).

I’m not sure if that would work well, because at the moment there are not that many competitors. But these are just ideas. And the most important point is that in my opinion you shouldn’t change or reduce events that are already created. :slight_smile:


Since I like the format as it is right now, I’d rather have different options added, than an overall change of the disciplines (with the old ones gone completely).

In principle, I like the idea of having different time controls as @random_username suggested. With 3 different time controls there could be something for everyone: the “fast mode” for people in a hurry and to make it more interesting for viewers, the “normal mode” as it is right now and a “quantity mode” for people who would like to expand the amount they can memorize. For me personally, that would also contribute to becoming a bit more flexible with different types of memorizations and not be too fixed on, for example, the 80 digits.

With additional options, there might be additional problems, though. If some people only like to play the fast or the slower modes, they might play only their favourite one and create a “shortage” of players in the other modes. At times it can be hard to find players for rated games even with the current format because of different time zones etc., so additional options might increase that problem.

So my points are:

  • I’d be in favor of still being able to play the current format
  • I’d find it interesting to see different time controls to increase flexibility in memorization and to have a mode that’s more interesting for viewers
  • The possible downsides of different time controls would have to be considered, too.

I also prefer the idea of @random_username

It is less problematic to just add new things instead of changing the old.


It’s definitely critical to not have 52 cards because this is the original idea behind memorising a deck of cards in my opinion. Also with 80 digits and 30 images we see times around 15 seconds having become a “normal” thing for some athletes, so reducing is not necessary at all. Remember when we had 60 digits first in the World Memory League Championship (XMT) which has been increased due to the fast times.

For Words, Names and International Names, I understand the thoughts. Nevertheless I think that the people having an advantage because of better scores should be honoured. It is definitely more likely to build in a small mistake recalling names or words compared to numbers, cards or images, even for a very good athlete. Reducing the amount of information takes away that advantage because then, a single mistake could decide the discipline in favour for the weaker athlete paying attention to good accuracy with a much longer memorization time. This is what separates the Words and Names disciplines from the others and also the Memory League software to the traditional format competitions with these deduction rules for mistakes. In Memory League, many players enjoy being allowed to do mistakes without losing 10 words or 20 digits for it. We should keep this difference as it is liked by many athletes right now.

Talented players in Words and Names will favour the disciplines as they are now, worse ones would maybe appreciate the change. It will be very tough to have an opinion on this which is not based on your own performance. Maybe there should be an option to choose if one wants to play 30 Names or 20, 30 Int. Names or 14, and 50 Words or 30, depending on what you like most. This would be fair and takes all advantages, but also increases the amount of options which would make everything unclear for new spectators or athletes. So maybe this idea could be optimized further but brings a good idea. :slight_smile:

  1. I think , In leaderboard section you can add country of the person.

And also which person is online or not.

When I want to play online match , I don’t get anyone to compete.
After a lot of time , I find someone that want to play.

2 )So second thing is availability section (online or not) of players.

3 ) Add binary numbers and dates memorizing competition.

  1. Memorizing full names like
    James bond not only James.

I love the idea of choosing amount of things to memorise before the game. We could also count minus points for mistakes. If two players memorized 60 numbers but one of them chose 80 numbers and other 60 numbers then the player who chose 60 numbers wins and the other player get only 40 points because 60 - 20 = 40.
That could make this sport more tactical.


@Konsti I don’t agree that is definitely more likely to make a mistake in words and names. Especially when the number of words would be reduced, mistakes will become less likely in words and names.
The situation that a single mistake could decide a discipline in favour of the weaker player is already there in the other disciplines and especially in Numbers. With the current setup, a good numbers player does not have the same advantage as a good words player. As Simon already stated, someone with an average of 45 in words wins almost all his matches against someone with an average of 35 words. Mistakes don’t affect the outcome. In numbers a single-digit wrong makes the faster competitor losing the game.
Words right now is a bit as numbers would be if we would try to memorize 300 digits in 60s. A good numbers player would almost never lose the game against a weaker numbers player.
So the idea is to bring words and names more in line with the other disciplines.
Furthermore, the advantage of the Words and Names specialists would be not neglected. It would be reduced to the level that stronger cards, names and images player have.

Btw. What about a -1 for each wrong information typed and each blank between the first and the last written information. That way someone who goes for 50 words but has only 45 correct and 5 wrong would score 40 points. At least that would also decrease the oversized advantage of good words and names players.

Even given that people like the no-penalty rule it feels to make more sense in a memory competition that not only the correct but also the wrong memorized information effect the result.

In general, I understand that people want to keep the old and add something instead of changing the old. But I would see that rather as an improvement of the old setup.


Great idea Simon!
I agree with your suggestion!
I think we need not take into consideration about spelling mistakes about Words.(Of course Names too)
And about “Int Names”, I think 14 Names are Halfway numbers.
So 15? or 20?(too many?) is good, I think.

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This is definitely true. In that way, reducing the amount of information would equalize strengths of different players.

Do you mean that in addition to the reduced amount of information (which then would have to be applied for images, numbers and cards as well) or an alternative way? I really like this idea, since it would discourage guessing of remaining cards and images or empty cells in numbers which I never liked and is not a part of memory sports!

This should definitely be seen as an experience-based improvement. The only question which remains for me is how to deal with personal and world records. Will there be new ones for the new amounts of information? So the old ones are forever like e.g. the 2s spoken numbers one?

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As for the discussion about the blue screen, we could just try it out for the next season only for the League matches. In training, it is possible to reduce the amount of information manually, so everyone can train the shorter events and also whether one needs e.g. 30, 32 or 35 words. And then, we will see how that affects the outcome and the attractivity to the audience.

I like the idea that guessing should not be favored. Since in numbers, you have an additional 10% chance of getting more points, per square, at the recall phase, if you have not completed them.

In terms of words, Spelling errors, should not affect the overall score.
Then the idea of erasing information becomes an option. Because nowadays, not really since you can just replace it with something else.
A blank row is worse than a guessed 111 111 row. That 2 additional points did not necessarily reflect your memo skills.

Having an additional game mode would be fantastic. Additional choices makes it more fun. Such as surprise event being a funny thing having occasionally.
Having an UNLIMITED Mode VS someone, lets say Numbers, where you memorize as much as you can in a minute. Maybe a 100 and the other one does 150. Here the overall memorization capacity would tell the tale.
I think that would be really fun to have.

And, you could add quicker games that you could play, which could be something that the audience want to see.

-If you add new game modes, then a new ladder should be added too for them.

And, the Compete queue could be bigger, where you could have different Game modes added, to choose from too.
And, when paired up, you could choose the game mode you want, and some simple settings there.
In shorter game modes, you could choose which Level you want to play at. 20 Names would be roughly Level 8. 14 International Names would be Level 5 And, words would be Level 7.

Summing this up, adding more game modes to choose from would make it more fun. You could also adjust new Game modes to be more audience entertaining.


Surely ignoring the spelling mistakes and the guesses cannot be done. You can’t tell them apart from the actual mistakes. Even if you track the number of items “seen”, some people memorize the smaller “icons”, without pressing the navigation keys.


Hi all,

very interesting replies thus far. Slight warning: This will be a longer post :slight_smile:

Personally, I understand the idea behind this proposed change. My opinion is the following:

1. Sufficient publicity of the discussion / information of athletes

Let me first say that a sidethread in a forum that not too many people regularly read seems not the right place to start such a discussion. If changes are really intended, then as many people as possible must be heard on that to give their input. For very important topics, e-mails should be sent around at least to all current League players in all divisions, with a short summary and with the link to the Art of Memory forum thread. Sending bulk mails is not too hard, Mailchimp works nicely and is easy to use. The disadvantage of just posting it here, without any kind of further notification, is that this will heavily skew the discussion towards the opinions of those who are active here.

2. People are attached to what they know

I am sure many players like the format as it currently is, they have trained for it and invested time into that. And for some Words and Names are their better events, so the point may also have some emotional aspect (“something is being taken away”). Humans are like that. So, it is clear that these players will opt to keep things as they like it.

3. Where is the beef?

In general, if someone wants to change something and argues that a change would improve things, the onus should be on them to prove that with hard data.

a) The problem of comparability

The example of a 35 words average player competing against a 45 words average player has been given. The question that must be answered is whether, in a match between two Numbers or Cards or Images players with the same strength difference, the weaker player has a better chance to score. This cannot be answered on the basis of some “hunch” or by citing “evident structural differences”. Either it is the case or not. The main difficulty I see in that regard is how to determine what constitutes a comparable difference in strength in another discipline. The formula ratings do not seem apt for that because they are no pure Elo ratings, only taking matches into account, but they also count scores etc… And it is not too hard to inflate one’s score if one finds a weaker training partner against who you can always go full risk for good scores.

b) Comparability based on an example guess

That means we would need to make an educated guess. 45 to 35 words seems, to me, about the same as someone who can do 25s Numbers safely (>90% full accuracy) competing against someone who can do 40s Numbers safely (>90% accuracy). And in these cases, the 25s player will have a huge advantage. They can simply go for a 30-35s time and win almost every time because usually accuracy heavily decreases below the safe threshold, here for the 40s player.

c) The comparability problem for more closely matched opponents

Of course, 45 words to 35 words is an extreme example. What about closer differences, like a 45 words player against a 47 words player? In that case, there are of course enough variances in score that the 45 words average player will with her or his share of matches. The same will apply for International Names. Variance leads to wins for the weaker player.

So, we see that the 45 vs 35 Words example is not really typical. Due to the League format, it is much more common that people of comparable strength will compete against each other. But the interesting question is: How does the win/loss ratio of a game between two rather closely matched Words players (with a small advantage for one side) compare to the win/loss of a match between similarly closely matched Numbers or Cards players?

I feel that for Cards it might well be that even a small advantage in safe times, let us say of a safe 21s player vs a safe 24s player, is a huge advantage, surely comparable to 47 vs 45 words, probably even higher due to the fact that you can close gaps at Cards much more easily. A similar dynamic should apply for Images.

But the question is: What happens to the main argument for a change if it is shown that for a minor differences in strength, Cards or Images is an even better option than Words or Names? In fact, it might make that argument completely moot.

And even for Numbers, I do not see it as a given that a game between closely matched players might not yield a better winning percentage for the stronger one than the 47 words player might expect vs the 45 Words player. That is because, as mentioned, usually accuracy decreases rather rapidly after leaving one’s “safe score zone”. So, in a match between a safe 21s Numbers player vs a safe 24s Numbers player, the best strategy might be in fact for the 24s Numbers guy to go for 24s and not for sub 21s. And then it might well be that a win/loss ratio happens that is more favorable for the 21s Numbers player than for the 47 Words player.

d) There is no avoiding the nitty-gritty details

What I am saying: Changing something that profoundly, basically doing away and erasing existing, functional and well-loved events requires to really go into the nitty-gritty of the matter and unearth whether it is really true what your intuition tells you. Science is littered with disproven hypotheses that supposedly “made sense” (Earth as the center of the universe, anybody?) after somebody worked hard and took a closer look at all the complexities and how they interact. As far as I can see, that has not been done. I understand that some people feel it might be like that, but feeling alone does not seem sufficient.

4. An alternative proposal: Three different amounts of data

Apart from the above, let me make an alternative proposal (that I had also sent to Simon a few months ago, by the way). It tracks rather closely with what has already been proposed here by some posters:

Three different amounts of data for each discipline:

a) Amounts:



Words v2 (because more than 50 Words might prove tricky for some with a 4 min recall time):


International Names:






Numbers v2 (since some people say 80 is already being memorized fast enough):



78 (1.5 decks)
104 (2 decks)



Images v2:


b) Recall time

It stays at 4 minutes for each choice. That means if you really want to look at 200 Numbers or two decks of cards, you will need to recall quickly. And spectators will see more recall action in the same amount of time, making it more interesting.

c) How to choose

The one who chooses the event also chooses the amount of data (“I choose Words 40”). The opponent might have one or two vetoes (as in the tiebreaker rules for the tournaments) regarding the amount (not the event itself), meaning they can say: “Veto, I choose Words 30.”. They can choose a higher or a lower one if they think that gives them an advantage.

d) No penalties

I feel the lack of penalties is a huge part of Memory League’s appeal, making it less stressful with less of a “tightrope walk” appeal than the classical events. You just enter your stuff and see what happens.

e) Advantages of that proposal:

For the spectators: They would be able to see three times the variety of matches and each amount of data would have its own appeal and its own strategical intrigue, with some players being stronger at shorter amounts than at longer ones. Basically, no two matches would ever be the same.

Also, it might be interesting whether someone saves their veto for exactly the right time to get the maximum impact. And, as mentioned, for the larger amounts spectators would have more visual activity on their screens, would get more of a wow effect (“a score of 163 in 1 minute - fantastic!”) and the action might also be a bit more frantic because people need to recall fast.

For the players: Yes, Memory League is cool. But it is also cool to expand your horizons, to try something new that does not dismiss what you already know well but that adds something to it. People would train the different amounts and some would surely find new favorite disciplines with the increased amount of variety and option.

For the commentators: More variety in the disciplines means more strategic depth of the matches. Matchups with shorter amounts than usual and with longer amounts might be equally spectacular, the former by way of raw speed and the race appeal, the latter by way of the huge mass of data memorized and recalled, to the wire.

For the ML organizers: The above changes would address the things @Simon has written, granting players the option to choose a smaller amount if they want that, so they can memorize all the data. It would also not take away beloved disciplines or unilaterally shift the balance between players without an in-depth and time-consuming examination of win/loss ratios (and the “comparability conundrum”) to back up whether that makes even sense.

Also, while the recall time would still be 4 min and not 3 min, it would be more action-filled minutes and thus better for the spectators. And if it is really wished by the ML team, of course reducing the recall time for the shorter amounts of data to 3 minutes is still an option, while leaving it at 4 minutes for the other events.

Thank you for reading, this was a long post. I tried to compress it as much as possible but there were many points I wanted to bring across. And I think when the discussion is about such an important topic, it is worth it to invest a bit more time to write something that really sums up one’s thoughts properly in order to convey them to others.

I hope that this proposal might find at least a few people with similar ideas. Personally, I would be thrilled to try it out while leaving the old system in place and then, based on experience, as @Konsti put it so nicely, people could decide whether they want a permanent change or not.

Huge thanks to @Simon, Issa and Josh for their work and to everybody in the community for making it what it is :).


Good point about guessing Sylle, didnt think about that one.

What an essay you wrote there Simon!
Putting these suggestions into practice can really show what the people really want and enjoys. :four_leaf_clover:
I think that many of the great ideas here should be played out and see how it goes.
Blue Screen was one example, removing of it made more daring results in the League matches.

-Also, something that came to mind was upping the Rating cap, where
your average skills could be more easily measured. Since you could
score 5 strong top 5’s and have your average performance way below
Higher rating in this case could show that you are steady at your
strong performances.

We could also have more ongoing competitions, where we can try different settings out. Multiplayer would be very fun. Having teams paired up against each other, or a team against one of the top athlete :fire:
The sport is growing and the abilities of the athletes, so we can reflect towards that too. 50 Names/International would be sweet to add as a choice. :sparkles:
As a matter of a fact, I have noticed especially this year that there has been a growing numbers of how many can do 30 Names under a minute. 30 (national) Names has become more like the old 60 Digit numbers.

-At the end of the day Things are DESTIN to CHANGE. So why not
make the best out of it. :four_leaf_clover:


@BurningDesire Thanks! Glad that you liked it :).

Team matches are such a cool idea! Maybe so that there is always only one match and a player of a team stays until she/he is defeated. Would make it tactical whom the team captain places at the front / at the back of the playing order. It is done similarly at fighting game e-sports events: Both players choose a numbers of fighters/characters and the winning character stays.

But team matches would also be super interesting like it is done in Chess or tennis or so: 4 players, seeded 1 to 4 in a team, and no. 1 plays the no. 1 of the other team, 2 plays 2, etc. 2.5 total points needed for a team to win. Could be made even spicier with the rule (as it is done in chess) that the exact seeding needs to be disclosed only 5 minutes before the team match starts. Opens up possibilities for strategically placing a stronger player at 2 or 3 to get a safe point etc…

I think with team matches (with some cool names for the teams) there could be a team league like at many e-sports events. Players could be traded between teams from season to season etc… With teams, the media aspect (Twitch channel etc…) could also take a big leap forward. Teams could be national or simply from everywhere.

I also think with teams it might be easier to get sponsorship. Why? Just a hunch. Sponsoring teams is a well-known idea in e-sports with huge sums being paid, so a company might be easier persuaded to put a much smaller but still nice sum into memory sports. And these sums could then be used to give ML even more functionality etc… :slight_smile:


Yeah, you have a well articulated idea here. I like it. We could have World Online Memory Cup in teams, that would be lots of fun doing that =)


About amounts:
16 images seem to be too few because it would be hard to memorize them at a faster pace than 30 images on the other hand, 90 seem to be too much to be able to find quickly the right picture out of 90 during recal phase.
A good solution would be to create tabs in which you can memorize and recall separate sets of 30 images. Same for cards.

About recall time:
If you go for a 2 decks or 200 numbers in one minute then you must go really fast, sometimes even
take a risk. This means that is hard to fell safe on recall and be able to fill everything in 4 minutes. There should be at least 5 or 6 minutes for longer events.

About penalties:
binary numbers is a discipline that is planned to be added soon. This event is also the easiest one to guess or fill gaps with random digits and win some points. Minus points for wrong digits would be a good thing and probably the only sensible and possible so why not do this for other disciplines?


Hi Jan, interesting thoughts.

I like the idea of separate tabs for the images. Of course, for cards it would also be separate decks, yes.

Regarding the recall time: I understand your idea but I think it might even be possible to keep the 4 minutes recall time also for 200 digits and 2 decks of cards. Let’s say for 2 decks of cards you need to get the first deck fully correct to get the full 52 cards. So, you go for a safer time for the first deck and then in the remaining time you try to get as much of deck 2 safely as you can. Then you quickly recall your last few cards of deck 2, put together deck 1 to have a good baseline and then see if you can puzzle together much of deck 2 as well. It can be kind of fascinating, I feel. And the lead might surely change a lot, making it cool for spectators, seeing how athletes rack up the points and get such high scores.

And it is the idea of amounts like 200 digits or 2 decks that it is more of a risk, that recall would be tense and that it might be very exciting to watch if that risk pays off.

Regarding penalties: I think penalties should only exist when there is no alternative, and for binary people would basically have every second digit right so a penalty makes sense. But for the existing events it does not seem necessary and it feels much more comfortable and, most importantly in my opinion, much more welcoming to newcomers to have no penalties. It is already tough enough to tell newcomers at the classical events that they get much less than they actually memorized as a score. Sure, the penalties, would be less severe, but still: What I love about Memory League is that you get what you earned, you get what you memorized.

One might discuss a penalty of -1 for longer digits events like 200 where people might not try all but go for score. But I feel a penalty, if at all, should only made for a wrong entry. Cells that are left empty should remain neutral. Memory League does not really have the concept of rows, so all cells are equal in a way :).

Regarding binary, it might be tricky to introduce it because you can memorize so much info in such a short time, with people easily having 9 or 10 digits systems. 100 binaries would be like 10 words for many. And anything more, like 300 binaries, takes some time to write down. Also, the fact that many people use a 3x3 system (which would need to have a proper delete and add functionality) seems slightly unwieldy. I think those are some points why binary has not been introduced till now.

But independent of that, thanks for the very nice ideas, Jan! :slight_smile: