"What’s the most popular sport on the planet? Football?
Cricket? Basketball? What then of snooker, pool or darts? It might
surprise you to know that the most popular, and fastest-growing
breed of sport is ‘mind sports’, chess, draughts and
backgammon, even poker. One of the most fascinating, and
intriguing of these, however, has to be ‘memory sport’ with
competitors battling it out not over yards of turf, pitch or baize
but thousands of decimal and binary digits and dozens of decks of
playing cards, whole poems, random words, even the names and faces
of complete strangers."
The concept of Memory as sport
started 10 years ago with the inception of the first ‘Memoriad’
or World Memory Championships. Every year since then, ‘mentathletes’
from around the globe, places as diverse as Malaysia, South Africa
and Korea, have been battling it out for the coveted title of
World Memory Champion.
The International Federation of Memory Sports was
founded last year to oversee the burgeoning number of national
tournaments around the globe, with the world’s greatest ‘brain
stars’ putting their reputations on the line in one of the
world’s greatest literal battle of wits.
My own interest in memory and
conversely Memory sport was sparked by my casual acquaintance with
a children’s book on broad memory concepts for better exam
performance at the age of 15. The following year I passed my GCSEs
with some of the year’s best results and subsequently performed
well at A-level, mastering French and German along the way with
the help of these tried-and-tested techniques.
Following teaching stints in Scandinavia and as a volunteer
lecturer of English in Eastern Europe, I competed for the first
time at the World Memory Championships in London in 1999, managing
12th place overall.
Thereafter, my obsession with the
sport grew, and following months of strenuous training and hard
work I climbed into the World’s Top-5 rated Memory sportsmen. My
performance at the 2000 World Memory Championships earned me a
discipline gold medal and two more event medals, the highlight of
one performance being where I bested the World Champion’s time
by a fraction of a second, with the successful memorisation and
subsequent perfect recall of an entire shuffled deck of cards in a
time of 1 minute 11.69 seconds. In another round, I achieved a new
personal best memorising 1,460 digits backwards and forwards in 1
hour, one of the largest amounts of digits ever memorised within
that time frame in the Championship’s history.
In the weeks following my success, I have been interviewed for
various TV programmes and received an invitation to give a talk on
my ideas for the future of Memory sport in New York on behalf of
the US National Memory Organisation.
Increasingly, I take time out of
my teaching and training schedule to give interviews and talks on
the subjects of Memory sport, Genius and the Soul, Mindpower,
Human Potential and Personal Development. Besides devising my
website, I have plans to give talks at Universities and other
organisations and to establish ‘Mnemon’ memory skills
clubs, based on the chess club concept currently popular in