New York Man Competes for the Title of "World's Best Memory"

Remembering impresses. These days, with the prevalence of smartphones, the ability to remember names, appointments, and even phone numbers seems to be a vanishing skill.

Upstate New York resident Brad Zupp is a "memory athlete" who will compete at the 24th Annual World Memory Championships in Chengdu China from December 15-18 to attempt to claim the title of "World's Best Memory."

He'll have his work cut out for him. The average memory athlete can:

  • memorize a deck of shuffled playing cards in under two minutes;
  • memorize the names of 50 people in 15 minutes;
  • memorize a random 200 digit number in five minutes: the equivalent of remembering 20 new phone numbers.

Zupp's numbers are better than average, and he hopes to set at least one new national (USA) record at this year's event. He can memorize a deck of cards in 60 seconds and 117 names in 15 minutes.

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.

Who has the best memory in the world? Zupp will compete with 200 other memory athletes to find out. Follow his training, journey and the competition on Twitter: @BradZupp

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

Competition Photos

Winner of 2 Bronze Medals, USA Memory Championship; Member of Team USA, World Memory Championships 2012 & 2013; Blocking out all distractions with noise protecting headphones and home-made glasses.

The World Memory Championships

December 15-18, 2015

Chengdu, China

3 Days, 30 Countries Represented, 300 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

About Brad

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 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 2014 World Memory Championships.


Itinerary: Leaving for China Friday, December 11

Returning Sunday, December 20

Contact Brad Zupp


World Memory Championships Website

World Memory Statistics, including rankings and records

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Organize the information: provide the mind with information in the proper format. Translate anything that is difficult to remember into an exaggerated picture.
  3. Access the information: get plenty of sleep to improve recall.
  4. Learn: remember anything by continually exercising your mind.