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Memory Championships, An Overview

By Christian Roemer
Close your eyes and think about what an athlete looks like. Usually, the image that springs to mind is a fit, muscular person who can run and jump nimbly and effortlessly. The truth is that there’s more to being an athlete than just being fit--after all, look at professional golfers! You can be a memory athlete. The Memory Championships are about athletes, but a different kind. Even though your brain isn’t technically a muscle, it can still be strengthened by training! That’s what the memory championships are all about: pushing competitors to use and show off their brain power.


The Memory Championships were started by a man named Tony Dottino who wanted to create a competition that inspires people to use their brains! His biggest goal was to teach people that, even though your brain is mostly gray and white matter, you can improve its function by exercising it. Just like a baseball player’s swing or a quarterback’s throw, your memory gets better if you work on it and practice. The championships are mainly for adults, since the minimum age for entrants is 12. If you want to try your hand--or brain--at the Memory Championships, you can! As long as you register in time, anyone is free to compete. The competition is only open for US citizens, however, so make sure you have your passport ready.


The Memory Championships consist of two rounds: Qualifying Events and Championship Events. The qualifying rounds weed out the competition so that the true memory masters can duke it out in the final round. The qualifying round consists of four games. The first is Names and Faces where competitors are shown 117 cards of people with names and faces. After a 20 memorization minute period, the same faces are shown again, and the competitors have to recall the names. Next comes speed numbers where competitors memorize a card of randomly generated numbers and must recite them line-by-line. Speed Cards is next, where the athletes memorize the order of a freshly shuffled deck of cards. Last of the qualification round is the poetry competition where competitors memorize a previously unpublished poem. Once scores are tallied, the eight highest scorers move on to the championship round. This stage consists of three events. Spoken Words comes first, where competitors memorize a list of 200 random words. Next comes Three Strikes and You’re Out, a recall exercise where the participants learn information about six people and remember it. The last event is the Double Deck O’Cards. It’s almost exactly how it sounds--memorize two decks of cards and recall their order. So, that’s it. The Memory Championships separate the truly brainy from the blasé. If you think you have what it takes to compete, you can register to enter! I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast, so I’ll leave this particular competition to the real athletes!
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