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USA National Memory Championships 215

bigtallmofo writes "Could you memorize 1,000 digits in under an hour? How about remember the exact order of 10 shuffled decks of playing cards in under an hour as well as one shuffled deck in less than two minutes? If so, you could be counted among 36 grand masters of memory worldwide. Slate is reporting that other spectacular memory feats were performed at the 2005 USA National Memory Championship. Congratulations to Ram Kolli, a graduate student in computer science at Virginia Tech, and this year's champ."
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USA National Memory Championships

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2005 @07:49PM (#11987448)
    By The Washington Post and The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON -- Senator John McCain (R-AZ) announced Friday afternoon that the Senate would be opening hearings on the USA National Memory Championships after allegations of illegal memory augmentation surfaced. "These allegations of illegal computer implants are very frightening, and we owe it to the American people to investigate this matter fully. Our children are looking up to these men and women as role models, and if they're not actually memorizing things on their own with their God given abilities, we need to put an end to it. There are long term dangers to brain function many of these people are either unaware of or simply ignoring for short-sighted goals."

    This year's champion Ram Kolli was among the first to be subpoenaed in the matter, and was expected to testify this week. "I've never illegaly used a computer to assist my memory in my life" said Kolli, noting that he had used computer storage in the past but only in legal ways, such as for class notes and assignments. "I've trained too long and too hard for these championships to throw it all away by using illegal implants. When I memorized pages 73 through 82 of the New York City phonebook, that was all me, and Jorge Benwalt of 212-555-2934 knows it."

    Several Google executives have also been called on to testify following claims that they've produced a blackmarket implant that allows people to search Google with their brain. Sources close to Google acknowledged they've done research on such devices, but claim none have been produced or used outside of the lab environment. Google could not be reached for official comment at press time.
  • Car Keys (Score:5, Funny)

    by jacksonai ( 604950 ) <> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @07:51PM (#11987452) Homepage
    Yeah, but can he remember where I left my car keys?
    • Re:Car Keys (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The last place you put them.
    • They're always the last place you look.

      Unless you're an idiot and keep searching after they've been found :)
    • Well, yes. Almost everyone under the age of 40 and most people under the age of 50 can remember where they put the car keys.

      The problem is being aware that you're putting them in some stupid place while you're doing it. You can't remember what you don't know in the first place.

    • I'm pretty sure you will find them in the last place you'll look =)
    • You can remember it yourself with the help of the best [] memory [] teacher [] around. If you don't like to read, there's always the software [], but the books are cheaper.

      = 9J =

  • But I have forgotton what this article is about.
  • ...try it some time. The next time you're out of the office, try this:

    - Imagine you're going to send an email to everyone in your department.
    - Imagine, now, that email lists are somehow unavailable.

    - Starting with yourself, identify all the people in your row.

    - Go one row over, and identify all those people.

    Do the same for the rest of the rows.

    For those of you who sit in circles in the office, just work your way around from right to left (or left to right). ;)

    You'll be surprised at how many people you can remember!

    It works with restaurants, too, but since you're not likely to know those people, faces and habits will most likely stick out, rather than names.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @07:56PM (#11987480)
    Congratulations to Ram Kolli

    A guy named "Ram" who's a memory champion? come on...
  • by 88NoSoup4U88 ( 721233 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @07:58PM (#11987494)
  • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @07:59PM (#11987499)
    ...Slashdot editors could do that.
  • More practically.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pilkul ( 667659 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @08:02PM (#11987517)
    Similar techniques are sometimes used by adult foreign learners to learn Chinese/Japanese characters. It can be easier to remember, say, Darth Vader setting a pack of wild dogs on fire on a pile of flowers in a swamp, than 25 strokes of chicken scribbles. James Heisig's Remembering the Kanji [] is the most popular (perhaps the only?) book using such a method.

    In this context such methods are fairly controversial, since the mnemonics are rather time-consuming to learn and recall is slower than brute force (on the order of 5-10 seconds instead of instantaneous), but it has some quite dedicated followers.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, but do they bring out a new edition of the book every time Lucas f's with Star Wars. "Now that character is like Han firing at Greedo in the Cantina. Now was that when he fired first or last or when it was in 3D I wonder".
    • Henshall's Guide to remembering Japanese characters [] Is a good book with mnemonic suggestions as well as good scholarly descriptions of how the characters were developed. I find the latter to be more informative and useful than meaningless mnemonics. It's more of a reference book, rather than a guided study.
      • Henshall is useful as a reference for people who are already quite literate in Japanese, but I would never recommend it to a beginner. (It certainly wasn't useful for me when I was a beginner.) His verbal mnemonics are not nearly as easy to remember as Heisig's imagery, and learning the convoluted history of characters is, to a beginner, more likely to lead to confusion than easy recall. Henshall and Heisig are quite different kinds of books and I'm not sure why people are always treating them as competi
  • What are the odds that out the 24 contestants one hailed from a local high school. Now, what are the odds that the contest had "many local high school students"?
  • by Zsinj ( 864251 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @08:03PM (#11987521)
    Here's an interesting memory game to try [2 more more people]

    Take a deck of cards, shuffled. Remove 1 card randomly and place it face down on the side of the table. All of the players sit in a semi-circle in front of the dealer.

    The dealer than plays 1 card face up in the center of the table. ~1 second later, he plays another on top of the card. Repeat 51 times, showing the players 1 card in the deck at a time. When the last card is played, cover the deck up in the middle of the table.

    The players (and dealer if he didnt cheat) has seen all cards - save one. The pur-chance-guessing-game ensues: what is that card that is face-down on the side of the table?
    • The Ace of Spades of course!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2005 @08:35PM (#11987689)
      That's quite easy though isn't it?

      Just assign all the cards a numerical value from 1 to 13. Now, assign the suits a letter, eg. S=Spades, C=Clubs, H=Hearts, D=Diamonds.

      Now as long as you can add, you only have 4 numbers to keep track of :)

      At the end of the dealing, you should have three numbers that are equal to 91 (the sum of 1 through to 13), and one number that is less,
      eg. S91, C91, H91, D80.

      This tells you that the initial card was the Jack of Diamonds (11 count for D). Simple :)

      I'm sure there is an easier way, but this was the first thing that immediately popped into my head when I read you post.
      Have fun the next time you play!
      • by Anonymous Coward
        You can sum the numerical values modulo 13, and sum the suits (arbitrary assignment of suits to values 1,2,3,4) modulo 4. The missing card is the one which if added would give you 0 for your sum modulo 13, and 2 for your sum modulo 4.

        This requires keeping track of one number up to 12 and one number up to 3, instead of four numbers up to 91 for your method.
      • That's quite easy though isn't it? Keeping track of four running counts in your head, continually updating them each second? Expert card-counters at blackjack train for years to be able to do that. It seems easy on paper, but I suggest you try it sometime (don't forget, no cheating - 1 second per card :))
    • Any bridge or pinocchle player would know the card at at the end of the deal. Its a guessing game only for people who do not regularly play cards.
    • Ill bet youra blast at parties.
  • Aw, Pooh (Score:2, Funny)

    by Spencerian ( 465343 )
    Forget all of this.

    How many of us can remember how many girlfriends we've had sex with?

    Oh.--wait--I forgot where I was posting...
    • How many of us can remember how many girlfriends we've had sex with?

      Probably everyone. (At least, Andie McDowell's character in Four Weddings in a Funeral had no trouble remembering her 33, which (I hope) is a great many by most people's standards.)

      But a more important thing to remember is this: the probability of contracting something nasty increases exponentially with the number of partners.

  • mounted? (Score:5, Funny)

    by GrAfFiT ( 802657 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @08:07PM (#11987541) Homepage
    ..but can they be mounted as a mass storage volume on Linux ?
  • by Fiz Ocelot ( 642698 ) <baelzharon@gmaiF ... m minus language> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @08:10PM (#11987558)
    when Cooke sees a three of clubs, a nine of hearts, and a nine of spades, he immediately conjures up an image of Brazilian lingerie model Adriana Lima in a Biggles biplane shooting at his old public-school headmaster in a suit of armor.

    It's that much easier to remember something like that than just three cards? I guess it's like they actually translate the entire deck into a sort of language. Then they just translate it using the same language every time.

  • by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <`john.oyler' `at' `'> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @08:18PM (#11987598) Journal
    Editors that could remember the stories that they put up the day before.
  • Imagine (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Imagine a beowulf cluster of them.
  • but I forgot where the damned competition was.

  • How about remember the exact order of 10 shuffled decks of playing cards in under an hour as well as one shuffled deck in less than two minutes?

    Of course. I'm an excellent driver... four minutes to Wopner...

  • shoot! (Score:2, Funny)

    by jayloden ( 806185 )
    oh man, I was supposed to compete this year, but I totally forgot...
  • When it fails (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wk633 ( 442820 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @08:54PM (#11987822)
    I once heard an interview with one of these types who did his act as a show. He said the only time he forgot an object somone in the audience asked him to remember, it was an egg. He foolishly placed it next to a white wall in his imaginary home town. When he walked back through town, he didn't see it against the wall.
  • Ed Cooke (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chri1753 ( 854560 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @09:37PM (#11988054)
    Ed Cooke, who "would have destroyed the American competition", is a dear friend of mine. He learnt early on that it's polite, when swapping phone numbers, to pretend to write down the number given to you.
  • Casinos! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dark Coder ( 66759 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @09:40PM (#11988077)
    Why bother attending the championship?

    The private "agency", that Casinos use to scope these potential card counters, probably compile a dossier of these mentats.

    Don't bother, just rip the casino off while you can.
    • Re:Casinos! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by friedo ( 112163 ) * on Sunday March 20, 2005 @12:32AM (#11988865) Homepage
      Even the best card counters don't win that big at casinos. The slight edge it gives you at Blackjack, for example, is largely eliminated by frequent shuffles and large shoes.

      If you want to make money at a casino, don't try to beat the casino at their own game. Play against chumps who are bad at poker.

    • Re:Casinos! (Score:4, Informative)

      by michaeldot ( 751590 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @02:25AM (#11989226)
      The private "agency", that Casinos use to scope these potential card counters, probably compile a dossier of these mentats.

      Actually, you don't need a good memory to card count.

      Card counting consists of determining the ratio of high cards (tens, aces) to low cards (2-6). To find this you simply add one for each low card that appears and subtract one for each high card.

      This gives the running count, which you can divide by the number of decks remaining to find the True Count, which is used to make decisions - how much to bet, or whether to deviate from Basic Strategy in playing a hand.

      So, at any given time you're only actually remembering one number.

      The hardest part about modern card counting is actually maintaining a good cover, that is, pretending to be rich and careless when you throw out black chips, or drunk and stupid, or talking incessantly to convince the dealer or pit boss that you can't possibly be counting with all that distraction.

      There are quite a few professional card counters around, but they're more likely to have honed their skills by taking acting lessons rather than memory courses...

  • or I woulda been moderated 'redundant' for posting Yet Another Joke about forgetting how to get to the competition.
  • ... but my virtual memory rocks. *pats pad of paper*

  • memorized zip codes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by marksilverman ( 539239 ) <> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @10:56PM (#11988458) Homepage
    probably the best street performer I ever saw pulled 10 or 15 people out of the audience, asking each one for their home zip code. Then he took each of them in turn, told them exactly where they live, and even mentioned restaurants and bars that they probably frequent. I was living in Manchester, England at the time (and we were in Nevada) so I thought I could stump him, but he nailed it. He got people from all over the US, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. He produced the specific city or town, not just the country. Now that's a good memory!

    As I recall, he calls himself "the zip code guy".
  • Lines they could never use again:

    Honey, I forgot your birthday....

    I really was going to call you the next day - but I forgot your number.

    I was going to get you that more expensive present, but I couldn't remember where it came from.

    I'm sorry boss, I forgot about that deadline.

    The expectations would be so high nobody would ever believe them if they said they forgot something.
  • I read an account of an interview between a reporter and Einstein. At the end, the reporter asked for Einstein's phone number so he could phone later if he needed to check something for the article.

    Einstein replied that he couldn't remember his number, but it didn't matter, because it was in the phone book.

    Smart man, Albert!
  • by Skeezix ( 14602 )
    Guys, this stuff really isn't that hard. There is no such thing as a "bad memory." Just an untrained one. Seriously, anyone with half a brain can learn to memorize long-digit numbers or the order of a deck of cards. I consider myself a person of average intelligence and yet I can take a randomly shuffled deck of cards and view each card in order once for less than a second and then list the cards in order or name a specific card by it's index. It just takes training []. People often attribute these sorts
  • I was planning on going, but sadly I forgot which day it was on.

Lend money to a bad debtor and he will hate you.