Many thanks to Bentley Systems for sponsoring my trip to compete at the 24th World Memory Championships in Chengdu, China!
I'm happy and proud to announce that Team USA, comprised of myself and four other memory athletes, came in second and brought home the Silver Medal! Additionally, an American (Alex Mullen) took 1st place overall, for the first time in the 24-year history of the event!
From day 1, jet lag affected me, preventing me from getting adequate sleep. Even though I trained harder than I ever have before, seeing my training scores improve dramatically over last year, my competition results were lower than they have been since the 2012 competition (my first World Memory Championships). Arriving a few days closer to the competition than I did the last two years was clearly a mistake that I won't soon repeat.
Still, this provides me with valuable insight into how the mind works, and will help me a great deal when I help people improve their memory abilities! I managed to overcome this slightly at the end of day two and the beginning of day three, but not enough to improve my scores to where I wanted them to be.
I scored decently in one event - Spoken Numbers - placing 15th out of 275 competitors. I had hoped to medal in this event, or repeat the breaking of my past two year's records, but it wasn't to be. In another event I memorized 11 decks of shuffled playing cards perfectly in one hour!
An article appeared in The Saratogian newspaper (click to view) that is a good overview of the competition, if you care to read it.
It's my hope that seeing me compete on this level can inspire others to exercise their minds and realize that memory can be improved if we try!
New York Man Wins Silver Medal With Team USA at World Memory Championships in China
Team USA, co-captained by Greenwich resident and "memory athlete" Brad Zupp, won the silver medal at the World Memory Championships, held last week in China.
Out of 22 countries competing, USA was second with 20,136 points. Germany won first place (22,539 points) and China was third (18,820 points).
The championships, held each year in a different location around the world, was in Chengdu, China, the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province, famous for its spicy Sichuan peppercorns and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Competitors spent three days memorizing in a variety of disciplines, all designed to push the limits of human mind. Among the ten events, participants attempted to memorize:
- a deck of shuffled playing cards. The average competitor can accomplish this feat in less than two minutes. The winning time this year was by American Alex Mullen in 21.504 seconds.
- the first and last names of 112 people in 15 minutes.
- thousands of digits of a random number in one hour.
- imaginary historic/future dates (i.e. 1988: Comet appears; 2019: Flying cars available)
- thousands of digits of a random binary number (0110100110100...) in 30 minutes
"In my four years of competing internationally, this was by far the most talented team we've ever fielded," Zupp says. "We put the world on notice that the United States has many of the world's best memory athletes."
Prior to this year, Team USA had never achieved higher than fifth place.
This year's team was composed of five memory athletes from around the United States, including the overall winner, Alex Mullen, a medical student from Mississippi, who also set a world record in one of the ten disciplines.
The other teammates were Lance Tschirhard of Texas (who set a new world record), Nelson Dellis of Miami (who took the silver medal in one event), Luis Angel of Los Angeles, and Zupp, who has been an upstate resident for 10 years, living first in Wilton and more recently in Greenwich.
At last year's competition, also held in China, Zupp set a new national (USA) record by memorizing 150 digits of a random number that was spoken aloud by a computerized voice at the rate of one digit per second but never seen or reviewed. He also memorized a deck of shuffled playing cards in 85 seconds, among other feats.
Zupp is a memory athlete who was sponsored by Bentley Systems, a technology company based with offices in over 50 countries whose software was used to create a 3D model of the new New York Bridge over the Hudson River (Tappen Zee). He also speaks about memory improvement for corporations and schools nationwide.
To follow the World Memory Championships or learn more, go to: http://www.worldmemorychampionships.com/memory-news/ or on Twitter: @WMemoryChamps.
According to Zupp, who is the author of Unlock Your Amazing Memory, "I compete to show that we can improve our memories even as we age. Exercising our minds can be easy and fun. We don't have to rely on technology to remember, and we don't have to resign ourselves to a 'natural' decline as we get older."
Zupp says that outsourcing our memory is a downward spiral. "We don't trust our minds, so we outsource our memory. This causes our memory to be weaker, which means we trust it even less, so we continue to outsource it. Exercising our minds is the way to break that cycle," he says.
"By putting my memory to the test at competitions, I hope to inspire people to stop being "mental couch potatoes" and exercise their minds!"
Brad's Official Memory Feats
- Twice set the American record for memorizing spoken numbers at one per second, never written or reviewed: World Memory Championships, 2013 & 2014
- Memorized 11.5 decks of shuffled playing cards perfectly in one hour (World Memory Championships, 2013)
- Memorized one deck of shuffled playing cards in 88 seconds (World Memory Championships, 2014)
- 1,250 binary digits (101100...) memorized in 30 minutes (World Memory Championships, 2014)
- Memorized the names of 117 people in 15 minutes (USA Memory Championship, 2014)
- 2 Bronze medals: Speed Cards and Speed Numbers, USA Memory Championship, 2011
- Co-director for the Extreme Memory Tournament, an exciting, head-to-head bracketed competition held each year in San Diego (http://www.extremememorytournament.com/)
The World Memory Championships
December 15-18, 2015
3 Days, 22 Countries Represented, 275 Competitors
Ten different disciplines are conducted over the three days of the World Memory Championships. Memory athletes memorize:
1. Spoken Numbers. A computerized voice speaks one digit per second for 200, 300 and 450 seconds (3 trials).
2. Playing Cards. Competitors memorize a deck of cards as fast as possible.
3. Historic / Future Dates. For five minutes, memory athletes memorize imaginary events. For example: 1988: Aliens invade. 2014: Volcano erupts. 1145: Dogs learn to speak. Click for a sample.
4. Binary Numbers. 30 minutes to memorize as many digits of a binary number as possible (011001100...). Click here for a sample.
5. Random Words. Memorize words in order. Click for a sample memorization sheet.
6. Abstract Images. Random 'ink blot' type images are presented. Competitors must memorize the order of each line of five images. Click here for a sample.
7. Names and Faces. Pictures of 85 people are presented with international names. Competitors memorize as many name and face combinations as possible. Spelling counts. Click for a sample.
8. Random Numbers. A 2,800 digit random number is presented to be memorized (as many digits as possible in the correct order). Click for a sample.
9. Speed Numbers. As many digits of a 500+ digit random number must be memorized in five minutes. Click for a sample memorization sheet.
10. Speed Cards. Memorize a shuffled deck of cards in under five minutes.
Scores are cumulative. The player with the most points at the end of the three days of the Championships is crowned The World Memory Champion.
For more details, visit: World Memory Championships Website
For world rankings, records and descriptions of each event, visit: World Memory Statistics
Brad Zupp is a Memory Athlete who participates worldwide in memory sports competitions. As he was about to turn 40, he noticed a dramatic drop in his memory ability and decided something had to change. He threw himself into researching memory improvement and used himself as a test subject to see what worked and what didn't. Remarkably, his memory today (at 47) is better than it was 20 years ago.
He is the author of
Unlock Your Amazing Memory: The Fun Guide that Shows Grades 5 to 8 How to Remember Better and Make School Easier
(click to go to Amazon.com to view)
and is currently writing a version to help adults remember everything from where they put their keys to the names of people they meet.
As a memory improvement expert, he helps people unlock their ability to remember better: everyone from kids to senior citizens, sales peoples to CEOs. His passion for helping others translates into dozens of presentations a year at schools and corporations.
One of the corporations he presented at, Bentley Systems, a technology company based in Exton, PA, has become Brad's sponsor for the 2015 World Memory Championships.
Brad uses his home, including Greenwich and Saratoga Springs, plus places he's visited, from Los Angeles to Phoenix, Orlando to New York City, Long Island to Boston and many more, to build his "memory palaces" for memory competitions.
SAMPLE COMPETITION EVENTS:
G.O.A.L: Four Steps to a Supercharged Memory
Many people mistakenly think that remembering is a one-time event. It's actually three distinct steps that lead to learning or remembering:
- Get the information: make paying attention enjoyable - turn it into a game. Count how many times someone says "Umm" or "Ahh" or "So" to trick yourself into listening better.
- Organize the information: provide the mind with information in the proper format. Translate anything that is difficult to remember into an exaggerated picture.
- Access the information: get plenty of sleep to improve recall.
- Learn: remember anything by continually exercising your mind.