Taiwan Memory Championship Recap

by | Nov 15, 2015 | Memory Championships

Each new competition seems to be sending shockwaves through the memory world rankings these days, and the 2015 Taiwan Open Memory Championship, held in Taoyuan on Oct. 31 – Nov. 1, proved no different.

Six of the Top 50 memory athletes improved their best ever total scores in Taiwan, including 3 who scored highly enough to enter the top 20 for the first time. Chinese competitor Zheng Aiqiang grabbed the #7 rank, with Filipino Mark Anthony P. CASTANEDA and Mongolian Enkhjin Tumur moving into the 18th and 20th spots, respectively. With his score, Enkhjin becomes the #3 ranked Mongolian, with Mark Anthony becoming the top-ranked Filipino athlete.

In fact, 7 of the top 10 scores of all time have been posted in 2015, and throughout the year we’ve seen 4 different competitors (Marwin Wallonius to #4, Zheng Aiqiang to #7, Yanjaa Altansuh to #9, and Lance Tschirhart to #10 at the time of the US MAA Open this May, but now down to #13 again) jump into the top 10.

In Taiwan, world #2 German Simon Reinhard continued his recent run of dominance by posting the top overall score, with 7561 points. He was closely followed by Zheng Aiqiang, who hasn’t competed since the 2014 WMC yet posted an astounding score of 7077. He moves ahead of Grandmaster Liu Su (#19) to become the #2 ranked Chinese competitor behind 2010 and 2011 WMC Champion Wang Feng (who himself was recently eclipsed by Marwin at this year’s Swedish Championship). Yanjaa, Sengesamdan “Sengee” Ulziikhutag, and Mark Anthony recorded the 3rd, 4th, and 5th best overall scores, respectively.

For a focus of the current team scores, see below the athlete statements.

I was able to get short quotes from Mark Anthony and Sengee about the Taiwan competition, and Yanjaa was nice enough to share her post-competition vibes in detail. Thank you guys!

It was a great experience in the events especially the hard work of the arbiters.

Just only about the awarding I saw some errors there. The medals weren’t distributed in an organized way because they were jumbled and given to the wrong people, but I know that it will be improved later on.

I especially enjoyed the spoken numbers event because that is my favorite discipline. I performed well by recalling 240 digits, my personal best in competition, but I also wished to break the record. Hope to break it soon. I felt disappointed in the speed cards event cause I didn’t make it below 40 secs to get 500+ points which would have made my score 6000 points. My time was 1:15 seconds.

Mark Anthony P. CASTANEDA


I think the best thing was that the Taiwan competition’s organization was good.

And the weakest thing was the arbiters. They weren’t real arbiters, but just students. There were many mistakes because the arbiters were inactive. The Abstract Images sheets’ printing was bad.



Almost all of the Mongolian team seemed a little off their game, meant in the nicest way possible – I know and they know they can do better than whatever happened last week. Even during the prize ceremony we had to call after Yalguun so she would go get her medal. Simon originally got 124 words but after a correction got 125 and therefore a new world record. Most of the top people, Simon + Me + Tsogoo + Mark, got all of the 100 spoken numbers on the first attempt. Then Tsogoo got 432 spoken numbers. Dunno what that’ll do to the spoken numbers trial 3 from now on.

They had announced on Facebook that Abstract Images were supposed to be the last discipline of the day on Saturday instead of the first one on Sunday. This isn’t great because a) I don’t look at all my notifications on Facebook b) I missed this notification c) I use the same loci for 10-minute cards and Abstract Images and had planned on the sleep leaving me with no echoes (both me and Marwin do this, at least last we spoke of the subject at the 23rd WMC). So I had to kind of improvise and reminisce locations I hadn’t used since summer 2014. That was great, got 120-ish less AI than the previous week.

Andy also announced the results from day 1 on Facebook and everyone was in total confusion. Sengee (who has the second-best 30-min card score of all time) seemed to have gotten 104 cards in 10-min cards. Most of it was sorted out in the morning though, with some arbiters who just chose to correct the first page and ignore the rest or something along those lines.

I got the Swedish record in names & faces (75 a two-name improvement from the previous week) and speed cards (35.04s a four second improvement from the previous week).

Excerpt from chat with memory peoples: “The fucking hardest competition I’ve ever fucking been to” “That Zheng guy came out of nowhere, huh?”

Yeah, so me, Tsogoo, Sengee and Mark Anthony… We’re all at exactly at an amount of points before speed cards that mean everyone had to do their personal best or better if they wanted to get a bronze medal! 29 seconds for Sengee. Haha wow. 38 seconds for me, 33 seconds for Mark, 32 seconds for Tsogoo. Tensions were high as fuck.

Tsogoo and I failed the first attempt, Sengee did 29s and Mark 1 minute something – thinking it would be enough to get him bronze I think and then I did 35s on my second attempt – the other three botched it. And I got bronze.

Competition-wise it was fucking brutal the entire ordeal, holy mother of god. Did I improve my ranking? Nope. Except for NF and speed cards I performed minimum 25% worse in every single discipline, comparatively to Sweden last week. Maybe I was tired. Dunno. I even forgot to go get the bronze trophy and the money because I started blocking out all sound so I couldn’t hear them announcing it. Tsogoo had to push me out of my seat so I got what was going on.

Before the ceremony Tsogoo, Sengee and I went for beers, wine and food and talked about general memory stuff. The guys asked me to stop talking about it, “enough memory for today”.

During the ceremony there was a lot of confusion as to who goes up when and where. I Skyped with my parents and my best friends and told them I won’t have to eat cheap ramen noodles for the rest of the stay in Taiwan. We rejoiced.

After the ceremony we had local beers and food at the venue restaurant and got little souvenirs like weird cubes and tiny decks of cards from random people. We took pictures, had dinner and talked about things that had nothing to do with memory competitions – like puns in German, general Japanese weirdness – how I have to stop saying the word duck in Chinese because apparently it also means gigolo if you say it to a dude. Everyone was exhausted.

Yanjindulam ALTANSUH



Switching gears to focus on team scores, here’s what the current rankings by country would like if you summed the top 3 scores from each (only active athletes included):

1 Germany 24550 Johannes MALLOW Simon REINHARD Christian SCHAFER
2 Sweden 22915 Jonas von ESSEN Marwin WALLONIUS Yanjindulam ALTANSUH
3 Mongolia 18993 Sengesamdan ULZIIKHUTAG Purevjav ERDENESAIKHAN Enkhjin TUMUR
5 China 17422 ZHENG Aiqiang HUANG Shenghua SU Qingbo
6 England 17329 Ben PRIDMORE Katie KERMODE Marlo KNIGHT
7 Philippines 16275 Mark Anthony P. CASTANEDA Erwin G. BALINES Johann Randall P. ABRINA


Alex Mullen

Alex Mullen

Memory Athlete, Medicine Student

Alex Mullen is the #2 ranked competitive memorizer in the United States. Originally from Mississippi, he’s currently a second-year medical student, and he’ll be attending the World Memory Championship in China this December. For more from Alex, check out his site alexjmullen.com, where he shares memory-related blog posts, interviews, and live competition updates.