Monday, May 02, 2011


That's a play on the word 'memory', but I realise now that it wasn't very obvious. Anyway, I did an hour cards practice this afternoon, for the first time in a very long while. I've been doing speed training for the last few days, but if I'm to have any chance in the world championship I need to be regularly doing marathon practice from now until October (or whenever it is. I should check.)

Cards has always been the marathon discipline I've found easiest to get into without my mind wandering, probably because of the constant moving of my hands as I juggle the cards between them. If I can follow this up with an hour numbers practice, and then get into the habit of doing them both (and half-hour binary too), then I'll be all set.

I still need a new system for numbers, but that might have to wait until next year.


Lewis said...

I have tried the long numbers over 20 mins and my mind wanders.... no idea how you guys do it for longer :-)

Over the last few weeks I have been trying to come up with a system for memorising random chess pieces and past games. I wonder if you would be kind enough to critique my system so far....

I have come up with 64 Countries that represent each square. If I cant think of a Country, I think of a capital city. Here is an example, square a1 is always America, d1 is Denmark. All 64 squares have a country or capital in the same way as above.

Each piece has a famous person linked to it. I make all the black pieces famous black people and the white pieces well known white people. Here is an example, the black king is Barack Obama and black knight is Oliver Skeete( the showjumper ). All my black pawns are represented by the All Blacks rugby team.

My white king is David Beckham. All my white pawns are represented by the Boston white sox. I am not a baseball fan, however the white in the title of the team automatically helps me know what colour I am thinking of in terms of pawns.

Here is an example of how I remembered some random pieces a chick at work put on my pocket chess board for me ( yes, she does think I am a nerd and no, I got no action from her :-) ). The black pawn was put on square c4. For me, c4 is always Monte Carlo. So i imagine the All Blacks doing the haka so loud the buildings Monte Carlo are falling down.

I have a question, do you think I should have two famous people for each bishop, etc. My black bishop is Richard Pryor. As each bishop is placed on a different square, I have not so far got them confused. Richard Prior in Mexico(b6) creates a very different image to Richard Prior in France(h7).

Does anyone see any errors with my system or can anyone think of any changes to make it easier?

Sorry about the long winded explanation :-)


Chris M. Dickson said...

I watched the episode of You Bet! with one D. O'Brien memorising six packs of cards yesterday. Wikipedia suggests it dates from Spring '91: series 4, show 2, with Eric Bristow, Gemma Craven and David Jensen as guests.

Bring back any memories?

Zoomy said...

Lewis - here's a long and unnecessary anecdote that doesn't really answer your question. Back in 2006, when the powers that be were looking for a new discipline to replace the poem, Gunther suggested memorising chess positions. I said that was a bad idea, because rather than being a 'natural memory' thing, we could just convert the positions to numbers and memorise those.

Indeed, I carried on, it would be particularly easy for me, because my system for cards is arranged with 16 permutations for the first 'digit', and 13 for the next two. And since there are 12 different kinds of chess piece, adding in a blank square to make 13, I could use my existing system and would beat everybody easily. I never tried to use it, and there would have been a lot of 000s in there, so perhaps it wouldn't have worked as well as I thought, but never mind.

Anyway, your system sounds entirely workable, as long as you can keep the images distinct from each other. If you don't have a problem with that, then go for it!

Chris - I never watched You Bet, so I didn't get to see that. I didn't hear about the whole concept of memorising cards until I went to the first MSO in 1997. But that will have been the time when Dominic was intending to memorise six separate packs (which would have been a world record in those days!), but someone dropped them on the floor, so he changed the feat to 'six packs all shuffled together'. I wish I could be on TV with Eric Bristow and <a href=">Kid Jensen</a>...

Although I decided against 'Epic Win' after all. They sent me an application form to fill in, which sort of tilted it in my brain from them asking me to do it, to me asking them if I could be on their show with such a silly name. I'm fussy like that sometimes.

Lewis said...

Thanks Ben. I have often wondered why the memory championships never used chess as a discipline, your explanation helped me realise perhaps it isn't such a good idea.

A few questions, do you think Gunther felt he had a system to make memorising chess pieces advantageous to gaining points in your opinion? Was he aware that your system would be tricky for others to topple? :-). Why did you not agree and pick up an almost guaranteed win in another discipline, lol

Many thanks for your time

Anonymous said...

Zoomy, you should have that new memory application. It shows you 1 digit at a time. You press the space button when you want the next digit (and you can't go back!). I've once memorised 100 digits in an embarrassing 5:30. Think you could go down in history and memorise 10,000 digits in 1 day? It would be the Everest to mnemonists (especially when you consider how annoying the system is).

Zoomy said...

Well, someone from the BBC's just called me to talk through the Epic Win thing, taking it for granted that I've agreed to do it, so hey, looks like I'm doing it after all. Look forward to it!

As for Gunther and the chess positions, he probably felt that he would do well at it, or he wouldn't have suggested it, but the point of what we were doing there was trying to find something non-system-based to replace the poem (which was a much more "natural memory" thing).

In the end, the WMSC ignored the competitors (who settled on a 'word pairs' idea of Gunther's) and went with abstract images, which was Dominic's idea but was executed in a way nothing like his original suggestion and turned into a system-based thing after all. Never mind...

Zoomy said...

Oh, and Anonymouse, I don't use 'applications'. I'm old-fashioned. Also, the single-sighting memory feats aren't really my style, they're more Dominic's thing...

Lewis said...

Thanks Ben, good luck with your training and competitions this year :-)