The Death of PAO?

I overheard an interesting comment at the memory competitions in southern California: “PAO is dead.”

How many people are going below 30 second speed cards with PAO?

Here’a a quick look at the top 10 scores for speed cards:

| 1  | Simon Reinhard          | non-PAO   |
| 2  | Wang Feng               | non-PAO   |
| 3  | Ben Pridmore            | non-PAO   |
| 4  | Enkmunkh Erdenebatkhaan | PAO       |
| 5  | Johannes Mallow         | non-PAO   |
| 6  | Sengesamdan Ulziikhutag | PAO       |
| 7  | Ola Kåre Risa           | non-PAO   |
| 8  | Milan Ondrašovič        | non-PAO   |
| 9  | Boris Konrad            | non-PAO   |
| 10 | Andi Bell               | PAO       |

I don’t know about Enkmunkh and Sengesamdan, but other than Andi Bell, I don’t see any PAO systems there. From what I’ve heard, at least four of them are using two-card systems (Simon, Ben, Johannes, Ola).

(If anyone knows Enkmunkh’s and Sengesamdan’s card systems, post a comment below. Edit: they are using PAO.)

PAO is popular because of Moonwalking with Einstein, but maybe it is fading in usefulness? One-card-one-image systems may be faster. What do you think?

Update for 2019: Shijir said he used a PAO system to memorize a deck of cards in under 13 seconds, so PAO is still active. Read more here: Speed Cards World Record 12.74 seconds - Shijir-Erdene Bat-Enkh


Maybe so. There is a lot of repetition when memorizing large amounts of cards or numbers though, which could get confusing.


Good then that I assigned Ben a 45 level gap in my joke :D.
Also, 1 image per (two) card(s) instead of 3 is easier to recall, maybe 1 image per locus is a natural adaption of that system. But that image can fade away quite quickly, cause you spend much less time in each locus. That means that they must later do the recall faster than with PAO. But it seems to work for speed cards, since everything goes so fast.

Two-card systems could solve the problem with repeating images on one-hour cards. (1,352 or 2,704 images)

I’m pretty sure that Enkmunkh uses PAO actually.

One-card system works the best for me… I would have never been sub 30 seconds if I continued with PAO.

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Yes, Everett, that is exactly right. I asked both competitors. I don’t have both answers yet.

I did a quick analysis of which systems the XMT competitors were using. Only 26% were using PAO for cards, and as far as I know the only non-Mongolian XMT competitor still using PAO is Jonas von Essen.

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Sengesamdan Ulziikhutag got back to me. He is also using PAO.

If memory serves me correctly, even though Ben is using a system which is, in effect a version of the Major System, he has also stated that some of his images are people.

Both Mongolians said they are using PAO. Interesting page Alex.

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Thanks, I’ve updated the table in the first post of the thread.

Also, Lance and I now have the 7th and 6th spots, so that makes two more non-PAOs :). Even beyond the death of PAO, it seems like there’s now a large percentage of people using 2-card systems. 6 of the top 10 are using 2-card, 2 1-card, and 2 PAO. Then again this is speed cards so it won’t exactly be accurate across the board.

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Nice! What were your scores? I don’t see them on the statistics website yet.

We did 29 and 28.66 at the USAMC and US Open, respectively

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Even looking at the current top 10 for overall rankings (which now includes Lance, the first American ever :D), it’s roughly the same: 5 ppl using 2-card systems, 3 1-card (including Christian here but I’m not sure), and 2 PAO. It’s even more skewed for numbers. 7 out of 10 are using a 3-digit or bigger system (although I’m excluding Tsogo here, who uses a PAO-ish system and I think his recent score at the Mongolian comp would make him top 10).

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Congratulations on the sub-30 score. :slight_smile:

(Unfortunately, I had to leave early, so I missed a lot of the US Open.)

I try to follow the discussion, but want to clear something for myself. With a 2 card system the aim is to have a single image for two card right? like 7 of clubs and 2 of spades is a car for example. Do you combine this image with others or just place that on a locus and move to the next?

I am very interested in this discussion, too. I have just started with PAO, but I am not looking for speed as much as accuracy. I am not sure I understand the one-card systems you are referring to. Can you point me to a thread? I’d really appreciate the background to follow this discussion.

PAO is technically a one card system. You have one image for one card. Technically you have 3 options for that image. 52 objects for 52 cards would also be a one card system. A two card system is one image for every 2 cards. This requires 2704(52x52) images, or 1356(1357?) if you use locations to represent what color the two cards are.

Yes, that’s a two card system. Most people combine two or three of those images in one locus, for a total of 4-6 cards in that locus.

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Ah, that makes sense. Thank you!