The twenty sixth world memory championship which finished last night in the city of Shenzhen, PRC, will go down in the history of Mind Sports as the best ever….so far. The championship was marked by a number of truly memorable elements…a magnificent $100,000 US dollar prize fund, a shattering of the speed cards record , bringing down the time taken to correctly recall a shuffled deck of cards to a level which nobody had remotely predicted. Finally, most historic of all, the first victory by a female contestant in the twenty six years of the championship. To think that an 18 year old girl might topple the male Titans of memory , would have been virtually inconceivable before the competition began. Now it has happened, proving in the process that Memory Sport truly knows no boundaries of gender, age or physical strength.

And then there was the return of that male Titan of memory, Dominic O Brien. Having won the main championship title a record eight times, Dominic now returned to capture his first senior ‎victory.

On the team front China dominated, followed as expected by Mongolia, with their supercharged team of teenage girls. Bronze resulted in a stand off between Algeria and Malaysia, a triumph for the former, whose team will be welcomed by state recognition on their return home.

New World Memory Champion, beating all the men, is the Mongolian teenage girl Munkhshur Narmandakh  She is the FIRST female absolute World Memory Champion!!    Silver Medallist – Shi Binbin  and  Bronze Medallist – Su Zehe of China

Congratulations to our new World Record holders

 Binary Digits: Enkhshur Narmandakh (Mongolia). 5445 digits

Hour Numbers: Shi Binbin (China). 3040 numbers

Hour Cards: Munkhshur Narmandakh (Mongolia). 37 decks of cards (1924 cards)

Speed Cards: Zhou Lujian (China). 13.96 seconds

New Senior World Records:

 Hours Cards: Dominic O’Brien 14.5 Decks (754 cards)

Words:    Dominic O’Brien  129

Spoken Number:   Dominic O’Brien  121

Speed Cards:   Dominic O’Brien  52.83 seconds

TOP COUNTRY TEAM – China.  Algerian team shares team bronze with ‎Malaysia after recount!!

An overwhelming fact struck me during the championship, ‎that the young people who take up early memory training are forming a race of superhumans…more intelligent, more poised, more self confident and more dynamic. Memory training truly revives the classical ideal of mens sana in corpore sano.

As for global outreach, representatives‎ gathered in Shenzhen from Mexico, USA, Poland, Liechtenstein, France, Belgium, England, Scotland, Algeria, Australia, China, Mongolia, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Russia, a veritable magnet for a mini UN!

The tide of history is on the side of the brilliant young WMSC champions‎. I now challenge the old guard who were too scared to face the new wave to enter next years 27th World Championship and test their skills against the dynamic younger generation. If they lack the courage, the tsunami of the future will overwhelm their fading laurels…with the exception, of course, of the Immortal Dominic O Brien!

The 26th World Memory Championships  has proved, once again, that we continue to underestimate what the brain is capable of.  The top story is the new World Record for memorising one randomly shuffled pack of cards has been slashed to just 13.956 seconds by Zhou Lujian of Team China knocking 1.654 seconds from previous World Champion Alex Mullen of the USA. This now becomes the new Guinness World Record.

The World Records that have been broken during in the ten separate memory tests over three days, it is worth remembering that none of the competitors were born with any special memory gifts or have any special qualities. They are all ordinary mental athletes who are using very simple techniques to enable their brains to memorise seemingly impossible amounts of information, and to recall them accurately against the clock. With enough practice, anyone can do the same.

Unlike some physical sports, which can take years to reach world level, in the Mind Sport of Memory we have seen new competitors go from a standing start to becoming a World Champion is under two years!

So what is it all about?  It is not a quiz and has nothing to do will cramming your brain full of random facts. Instead it is all about the ability to be presented with new information – such as list of numbers, dates, names and faces, words or playing cards, and seeing how many you can commit to memory in a specific length of time. Then, in a fixed period of time, accurate recalling that same information. It has to be 100% accurate as there are no prizes for forgetting.

The sport, as indeed it is, was founded by Tony Buzan, author and inventor of Mind Mapping, and Raymond Keene OBE, the Chess Grand Master and is now practiced in 62 countries. The highest achieving competitors in the qualifying rounds are eligible to compete in the World Championships.

This year the event took place in China and has in the past been in London, Oxford, Manchester, Bahrain, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hainan, Guangzhou, Croydon, Chengdu and now Shenzhen. Bids are open to host the 27th World Championships in 2018. A great incentive this years was a prize fund of US$100,000 which was distributed around the winners.

The Sport has also attracted Royal patronage. Prince Philipp von und zu Liechtenstein, who graced the front page of the South China Morning Post as soon as he arrive in Shenzhen. granted the first Grandmaster of Memory titles by royal decree at Hanbury Manor UK over two decades ago, thus helping to fuel and launch the now burgeoning world memory movement.

Prince Marek and Princess Petrina Kaspersky of the Polish Royal house, are presidents of the World memory sports Council in Australia and also edit the magazine of The Brain Trust Charity, Synapsia.

This year the competitions was organised by David Zhang, the President for the WMSC Asia Pacific region and was sponsored by Shanghai Wits Publishing Ltd and Guangzhou World Mind Education and Technology Ltd.

Ray Keene OBE Shenzhen 9/12/17