With the official launch of Memory-Sports.com, it is in my duty to keep you posted about upcoming memory events. But what‘s about the past two decades of stunning championships? I gathered ten interesting facts about the dawn of memory sports:

1. When did it all started?

In the year 1991 Tony Buzan, father of the Mind-Map, and Raymond Keene, the British Chess Grand Master set up the very first World Memory Championship.

2. Who is the most successful memory champion?

That depends:

  • Most World Memory Champion Titles: The British author Dominic O’Brien has won the World Memory Championships eight times altogether and became a memory legend.
  • Best Brain: The No.1 memory champion of all time is the British athlete Ben Pridmore. With seven world records in 18 different disciplines he is dominating the sport.
  • Financially: One of the most financially successful memorizers is the American journalist Joshua Foer. He only competed once at the USA Memory Championship in 2006 and won. After that, he sold his first book, Moonwalking with Einstein, for a reported $1.2 Million to Penguin for publication in 2009.

3.    How many different championships are there?

There have been 26 different competitions altogether. Six are taking place regularly for five years and more.

  • World Memory Championship (since 1991)
  • German Memory Championship (since 1997)
  • USA Memory Championship (since 1998)
  • Australian Memory Championship (since 2001)
  • North German Memory Championship (since 2003)
  • South German Memory Championship (since 2003)

4.    How many countries have national championships?

There are thirteen different nations with either national only or open championships. The youngest among them are France, Poland, Thailand and England (although the British had the World Memory Championships taking place there from 1991-2006).

5.    What kind of disciplines are there?

On a memory championship you have five to ten different disciplines. The common standard for regional events like the North German Championship is seven disciplines. The common standard for national and international events is ten disciplines (the decathlon).

The fastest discipline with one second for each number is:

Then you have the speed disciplines with five minutes memorisation time:

The only discipline with ten minutes is:

The medium range disciplines with 15 minutes are:

The long disciplines with 30 minutes are:

And the World-Memory-Championship-only disciplines with one hour are:

6.    How can I become a Memory Grandmaster?

There are three different conditions for a Grandmaster:

  • Memorize a deck of cards in less than two minutes
  • Memorize ten decks of cards in an hour
  • Memorize 1.000 Numbers in an hour

7.    What can I win at a Memory Championship?

You can win national honour and a bigger self confidence. You also train your brain for good and keep yourself focused. That’s not enough? At the World Memory Championship the total prize fund is US$ 30.000.

  • The Winner receives $10.000
  • The Silver Medallist receives $5.000
  • The Bronze Medallist receives $3.000
  • Rank 4 to 10 are receiving $1.000 each

For each of the 10 disciplines:

  • $250 First Prize
  • $150 Second Prize
  • $100 Third Prize

8.    What is the most famous discipline?

That depends on the preferences of each competitor, but altogether I would say Speed Cards. This discipline is always the last one at a competition and also the only one (except for the other card disciplines), where you hold something other in your hands than a sheet. It is also the most fascinating discipline to watch, since every competitor gets his own competition timer (sponsored by Speed Stacks) and a big digital display for the audience. The official out-of-this-world-record is 26.28 seconds (for 52 cards!). Congratulations Ben.

9.    Are there any children competing in memory championships?

Of course there are: Germany arranges special championships for children (age 6-12) and juniors (age 13-17). At all the other championships they compete against the grown-ups. The children and junior World Memory Champions are Konstantin Skudler (10) and Dorothea Seitz (16).

10.    How will I know about upcoming championships?

Relax, I will keep you posted. In the next weeks I will put up a competition calendar, where you can check all officially announced championships. Another way is to visit the “Upcoming Championships”-page on the Memory Sports Statistics.