In 2012 a new memory athlete appeared who quickly climbed the memory rankings. At the time of this interview he is on position number 14 in the world and has achieved the Grand Master title. Running in the shadows of his fellow Swede and two times World Memory Champion Jonas von Essen, few have spotted this outstanding talent yet. We are about to change that: clear the stage for Marwin Wallonius from Sweden. Tell us a little bit about you, Marwin.

Marwin: Ah, where to begin? I am a Swedish med student who likes to use his head and body all the same. The head gets used by memory training, and of course studying, and my body gets it´s share from swimming and running. I live by the phrase: „a sound soul dwells within a sound mind and a sound body“. When and how did you come first in contact with memory sports?

Marwin: I think it was the summer of 2012 when I started to read about different ways to maximize my brain. The introduction came from the swedish author and mind reader Henrik Fexeus who wrote a book called, and I am translating: „The art of getting mental superpowers“. It contains a chapter dedicated to memory and I actually did not understand a thing of it the first time. But for some reason I tried the techniques later on and I thought to myself: „with this, I can conquer the world!“ That was the feeling I felt after memorizing my first deck of cards in somewhere below ten minutes. And I have used memory techniques ever since.

Henrik also told stories about people who competed in memory sports which of course spiked my interest. After a little googling I found Idriz Zogaj, the Swedish memory coach, on his website and six months later I competed in the Swedish national championship for the first time. I remember that World Memory Champion Jonas von Essen wrote in my interview with him, that you gave him good tips before your first competition. He ended up beating you there and continued to do so, even though you have started on a very high level yourself. How do you feel about that?

Marwin: First reaction: disappointment. I was really sure that I was going to win against Mattias Ribbing, the previous memory champion, so I was quite disappointed at the time. But I think it was good for me to lose that day and it has nothing to do with Jonas nor memory sports. I needed a reality check to come back to earth and realize that there are in fact people on this planet that will be better then me at some things. It helped me to grow as a person and I also do not think I would have continued competing if I had won that day. I would have declared myself world champion (even though it was only a national event) and never would have aimed for the real WMC! Jonas just happened to be the teacher and the subject just happened to be memory. If anything I am glad. That competition helped me become the person who I am today and continue exercising my memory! I am going to become the World Memory Champion one day. Maybe not this year or even the near future but I will not let anyone or anything stop me from achieving my goal so that’s that. You are part of Team Sweden with Idriz Zogaj as your mentor. In 2014 you helped Sweden to win the golden team medal together with Jonas von Essen and Yanjindulam Altansuh. It was the first time that Germany lost its first rank in many years. How important was that for you?

Marwin: To tell the truth… not that important. My goal is to become the best and that is all personal. The good thing is that Jonas and Yanja continue to grow and stand in my way so that I have to become much better myself in order to compete against them! They are both excellent memory athletes and they motivate me to aim higher and higher. The gold medal and the fact that Sweden has the worlds best memory is just a bonus.

Marwin at the World Memory Championship 2015

Marwin at the World Memory Championship 2015 Tell us a bit about your memory systems. What kind of number and card system do you use?

Marwin: I use a 3-digit system with 3 images per loci for numbers. And I use 1 image per card with 2 cards per loci. But I should tell you that I have recently completed a 2-card system which I plan to master this summer! So during the Swedish national championship I will introduce it in competition. On a side note I do not use PAO stuff, I have one image for one thing and I combine them three at a time and place them on a locus. My systems are made up of anime characters because I watch a lot of anime. Some images are characters others aliens, animals, foods and objects all from various TV-shows. What is your favourite memory discipline and why?

Marwin: 5 min digits. I actually do not know why. I guess my 3-digit system was the perfect balance between variation and speed. I actually started creating a 4-digit system but realized that i would never have any use of it. The problem with my first 2-digit system was that I mixed the images together since they reappeared several times during disciplines. With my 3-digit system I do not even have that problem during the one hour events. So I decided to stop working on the 4-digit system and become faster with my 3-digit system! Maybe it does not answer the question but it is the best answer I have. I like it because it lets me use my system which is beautiful in its variation, speed and power! How often and how much do you train?

Marwin: I travel two hours in the morning to get to my school. So I try to get 30 minutes to two hours of training on the train, depending on the study load in school. Usually 1-2 months before a competition. Do you have any tips for a beginner memory athlete?

Marwin: Experiment. I believe that it is such an individual experience to try these memory techniques that I would recommend beginners to experiment and try what works best for them and not listen too much on what works for others. For example I like to memorize in columns from the top down and then back up instead of going in rows. If I make a mistake it costs me much more but I like this way of memorizing so I am going to stick with it and work on not doing any mistakes. 🙂 The memory community is very strong and talkative on Facebook. How does it influence you not being on that network?

Marwin: I do not know how to answer that question since I am not sure what I am missing. 🙂 I do not like social medias in general. If I want to talk to someone I just send them an „old fashion e-mail“. What would you like to achieve with memory techniques and memory sports?

Marwin: Becoming „the“ greatest memory champion of them all! Continously smashing world records and improving my systems. What don‘t you like about our sport?

Marwin: The fact that it is so dependent on my daily form. I must watch what I eat, how much I sleep, jet lag, what time during the day I excercise and when I go for runs because all of those factors contribute to my results for that one day. But other then that it is amazing! What is your vision for the sport in 20 years?

Marwin: I hope that more variations of memory sports will pop up like the XMT and the MAA Memo Games because it really changes the game a lot, which is intriguing. Also a more globally spread sport, like the WMC of 2032 on Antarctica or more local like in Sweden. Thank you for your time, Marwin.

Marwin’s WMSC record page Marwin’s champion profile