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Read about the 10 Memory Disciplines used in competitions

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The Mind Sport of Memory is both a fun, valuable hobby, as well as an amateur sport. At the fun end of memory, informal competitions take place in Brain Clubs and in other Mind Sport groups taking many different forms.

At a competitive level, there are specific disciplines which were created in 1991 by the founders of the sport, Tony Buzan and Raymond Keene OBE, and which lay down a common competition framework that has enabled international competition to take place. It is based on the ten memory disciplines.

Competitions that comply with the WMSC rules standards can be included in the World Rankings.

At a World level, some disciplines like cards and number can have a one hour memorisation period and a two hour recall time. At a national level, memorisation times can be reduced to five minutes, with a ten or fifteen minute recall time to suit the level of competitors taking part.

Another factor in the choice of disciplines is the preparation of competition materials. Some disciplines, like Names and Faces, Binary Numbers etc take some time to produce the memorisation and recall papers. These types of discipline require experienced Arbiters and time for marking.

Although it is not essential when organising fun memory events and competitions, it is recommended that by joining the International Guild of Mind Sports Arbiters, and taking at least the Level One training, an organiser would gain invaluable experience in running their own club or event

The Mind Sport of Memory was founded in 1991 by the inventor of Mind Maps and expert on Mental Literacy, Tony Buzan and Chess Grand Master, Raymond Keene OBE. The Ten Discplines which formed the basis of the first competition are largely unchanged today and have been adopted worldwide as the basis for competitive memory competitions. There are now competitors from 30 countries participating in the sport, all competing to become the next World Memory Champion.

The sport is administered by the World Memory Sports Council which is the governing body for the sport. It compiles the World Rankings, is the custodian of the ten diciplines and ensures fair play worldwide through its Ethics Committee chaired by eight times World Memory Champion, Dominic O’Brien.

Memory is a sport in which everyone can take part. None of the top competitors would claim to be born with a great memory. All of them have learnt all the necessary techniques to develop their skills, and have practiced to a high level to get them to the top of the sport. You can do the same!  Why not start today?

Memory is one of the five “Learning Mind Sports” which are Speed Reading, IQ, Creativity, Mind Mapping and Memory. All of them are competitive sports, and collectively they can help anyone to become better in their studies or in ther work.


Are we living longer but losing our minds?

Matt, the cartoonist in the Daily Telegraph, memorably created a cartoon about when the pensioners were marching on Downing Street with placards proclaiming “What do we want?  Where are we going? Why are we here?” However, our memory or the increasing lack of it, is no longer a laughing matter.  It is the one thing that we fear losing the most.   What’s the point of enjoying a ripe old age if you’ve forgotten about it by the time you got home?

With so many of us using our Smart phones, tablet devices and computers to do all our remembering for us, is it any wonder that memory is a dying art?  These days few people can even remember ten items on a shopping list! Can you?  Don’t forget – with memory – it is ‘use it or lose it’!

Competitors to the UK Open Memory Championships on August 21st and 22nd at the Apex Conference Centre and Studios in Ilford, are determined to prove that anyone is capable of surprising feats of memory if only they knew some very simple techniques, and practiced a bit.

The World Memory Championships, now in its 24th year, has become the most comprehensive test of competitive memory on the planet, is why competitors are prepared to travel so far to see how their months of preparation can take them compared to the best in the world.

Surprisingly,  none of the competitors were born with particularly good memories. For all of them, this is a skill they have developed by learning the techniques and doing lots of practice – just like any other sport.

In this way, they can remember long – very, very long – lists of things: numbers – 4140 binary digits in 30 minutes; dates – 132 historical dates in 5 minutes;   playing cards – 1456 playing cards in one hour (that’s 28 packs of playing cards, individually shuffled and memorised, perfectly, in just 60 minutes – imagine!)

Rhyme and Reason

Actually, the ‘proper’ word for memorisers is ‘mnemonist’, derived from mnemonic, meaning a technique or device – often a rhyme – that helps you to remember something. The phrase ‘Richard of York gave battle in vain’, the first letters of which indicate the colours of the rainbow in order – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet – is one example. ‘Read out your green book in verse’ is  another.

‘Names and Faces’ will be one of 10 events (hence the decathlon analogy) in the Championships. The ten disciplines are designed to measure pure skill in the areas where memory is important, rather than an individual’s knowledge on a particular subject. They are not culturally or language specific, thus ensuring a level playing field for international competition. As well as names and faces and playing cards, memory subjects include spoken numbers, dates, abstract images and random words.

This website is run by the World Memory Sports Council the governing body for the Mind Sport of Memory worldwide on behalf of the World Memory Championships International Ltd.