Speed cards - recall order

Hey guys, I was wondering what order you use to recall a memorized deck of cards: backwards or forwards?

I like to use backwards, because I can kind of “cheat” by just immediately returning the last 4 cards from my working memory without really memorizing them. What order do you use and why?

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For Speed Cards in competition you typically sort an unshuffled deck into the order of the deck you memorized, so you can recall them however you like. It’s common for people to use working memory for the last few items and recall those first.

If you’re in a different situation where you need to recall the cards in order, for example reciting them for an audience, it would be normal to go forwards but I think equally impressive to go backwards. Personally, I wouldn’t use working memory in that situation, though - I would encode everything properly.


That’s not really cheating if you ask me… there are no points awarded for how you memorize the deck of card. :wink: However, when it comes to competitions it’s a little different.

That is not entirely true, because that all depends on how fast you can memorize a deck of cards. Say that it takes you 2-3 minutes… which is definitely achievable whilst still far from what better competitors will do. If you can’t do a whole deck in under 5 minutes, it’s like @Simon says (…finally got the Simon says joke in :wink: )

Yes, the last couple of cards go into working memory, but that is only so you can stop the timer that little bit earlier. Afterwards, you form an image for those last couple of cards as well. Bear in mind that you can’t just start recall before the 5 minutes for memorization are up, so…

…that is not really an option. But what you’d do in the remaining time is exactly that… run backwards in your head… skip the difficult ones, re-run forward. backward again. Make sure you got what you got and start working on the difficult ones.

Usually, you’ll keep a couple of blanks, but once you do the recall and put everything that you know down… the limited number of cards you still hold in your hand are easily checked by just going through all the different possible combinations… just see if (in case of PAO) you remember any of the cards being a P in one of the missing locations; see if you can remember a card as an object in a location, etc.

Well, I guess I can only speak for myself. When I was competing I would put the last 10 cards, 15 digits or 6 words into working memory and just repeat them to myself over and over, without ever forming images for them. Then I recalled those items first before moving on to the images I’d placed on my memory journey.

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Interesting… how fast were you on cards? How long did you loop those 10 cards before recall started. With the 2-3 minutes I’ve mentioned above, you’d be spending half of memo time on that. Downside being that you can’t review any of the other cards at the same time, so those images might weaken or start fading altogether.

I was maybe 1.5 minutes on the cards, so probably looping for about 4 minutes. The looping was verbal so I could review the images at the same time.

I had a syllable for each pair of cards, so 10 cards was just a matter of repeating 5 syllables to myself over and over.