Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Double Deck 'r Bust

ie "Double deck or bust" and "Double-decker bus". That was the weird original name for the final event in the US Memory Championship in which the contestants have to memorise two decks of cards in five minutes. Then they recall them, taking it in turns to say the next card, and the last one to make a mistake wins. Nowadays they call it "Double Deck o' Cards", which is still weird but perhaps slightly less so. Of course, the top memorisers, if they weren't so polite, would scoff at the concept of memorising only two packs in five minutes, and say that it would need to be at least five packs, maybe more, for there to be any chance of anyone making a mistake. And actually, we're getting to the point where the top Americans are going to be flawlessly memorising their double deckers in five minutes soon, too. They'll have to change it to a triple deck o' cards.

The weirdest two-packs-of-cards record, though, is the one that I've been asked to try to break at the Mental Calculation World Cup's evening show in June. The rules are unusually precise - you have two separate packs of cards in front of you, and you have to simultaneously turn over one card from each pack at a time, and memorise them in the fastest time possible. Single sighting only, spoken recall. Dominic invented it, and holds the world record, set in 2001, of 3 minutes, 37 seconds.

I did think, until I looked it up just now, that this was a record that Dominic and Gunther exchanged between themselves for a while, knocking a second or two off it each time, but it seems I must have been thinking of something else. I did attempt to break the record back in 2004, also at the MCWC, but I was still relatively new to my card-memorising system back then, and I couldn't do it. But I think I've improved a little over the last six years, and I could probably do it this time without making a complete public spectacle of myself. The time to beat is really, really easy and it only stands as a record because nobody else has ever tried to break it. Although I probably will make a complete public spectacle of myself anyway. I'm rubbish at memory performances in front of an audience.

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