After learning the Method of Loci, perfect associations, the Major System, cards, binaries and words, we will have a look at the discipline Historic/Future Dates.

It has nothing to do with actual history

You are very good at history? You have hundres or thousands of dates already in your head? This is marvelous, but it  wont help you at all. The dates you have to remember in a memory competition are all fake. Otherwise you could probably win this discipline without even looking at the dates presented to you – because you already learned them. Therefore you will get fictional dates with random years from 1000-2099. There will be no day or month to memorize  – only the year is of interest.

This discipline is actually relativly easy because you don’t need any journeys. You only have to asscoiate your number-pegs from your major system (or whatever system you use for numbers) and associate it with the action of the date. There are now several ways to do so (see the systems below)

  • Historical Dates: 5 minutes memorization / 15 minutes recall

The Rules

Memorizing Period

  • XXX different historic/future dates, with 40 dates on a page will be given (depending on the milennium standard; you can ask for more).
  • The historic/future dates are between the years 1000 and 2099.
  • All historic/future dates are fictitious or general (e.g. Peace Treaty signed).
  • The length of the event text is between 1 and 10 words.
  • Statistically the whole range of years will be used and no year (and no event) will be presented twice – but some might be similar!
  • The 4-digit number of the historic/future years are on the left side of the event and the events are written down under each other.

Recall Period

  • Contestants will be given 3 sheets of Recall Paper with 40 historic/future event texts written on each.
  • The historic/future event texts are in a different order from that of the memorizing phase.
  • Contestants must now write down the correct year in front of the event texts.


  • A point is awarded for every correctly assigned year. All 4 digits of the year written down must be correct.
  • Only one 4-digit year may be written down in front of each event.
  • The points are added up.
  • In the case of tied winning scores, the winner will be decided by counting the mistakes (incorrectly assigned dates) of the contestant – the contestant with less incorrectly assigned dates is the winner.
  • Half a mark is deducted for any incorrectly assigned year.

1st-Level Dates


The 1st-Level technique for dates breaks them into two 2-digit images.

Since your 2nd-Level Major System is providing you with pegs for every two-digit combinations you have to memorize two pegs together with the action of the date.

This is a very simple method to connect the date with the action. If you have a ready number system you could jump right now into action.

The downsides of this method are for once that you have three elements to connect with each other (event + image + image).  And secondly you will have many stories with your pegs from 10-20 because all dates start with these eleven numbers.

For example:

  • 1320 – Dinosaurs are getting cloned

You could now take your pegs for the numbers 13 (team) and 20 (nose) and associate them with a dinosaur: A soccer team is jumping on the nose of a T-Rex.

1.5-level dates – conditions


With eleven conditions for your 2-digit images you can create smaller clusters.

To reduce the repetition of your pegs you can come up with something to get rid of the first digit. If you look at the rules you realize that ten out of eleven dates are starting with the digit 1. Therfore it will be enough to memorize only the last three digits. With a 2nd-level major system decoding only two digits this will be difficult. So how can you differentiate between the 11 different centuries? This can be achieved with several ways:

  • Give them different states (a nose (20) made out of jelly, stone or metall) each representing another century
  • Different colors, smells, sounds
  • Add one of eleven locations to each association (does it happen in the stadium, the bus or on top of a skyscrper?)

I worked with such a system for quite a while. It is not that easy but it works and it is much faster than making 1st-level connections.

For example:

  • 1058 – King Charlie learns to fly The King flies over a stream of jelly-lava (condition + 58).
  • 1158 – King Charlie learns to fly The King flies over a stream of lava-stones (58 + condition).

1.5-level dates – overlapping


You can strengthen your images and avoid image repetitions with the overlapping-technique.

Nowadays I use another method: You also get rid of the first digit. Then you take the digit number two and three and recall the peg for this number. Next you take the digit number three again and also number four and recall that peg. Now you combine these two. If you are having a Person-Action system it is even better. The great plus of this way is that you can reconstruct one number if you remember the other one.

If it is a date in the year 20xx I will simply use a special peg created only for this porpuse which could be anything you like. It will become very hard to forget the dates that way.

For example:

  • 1170 – The pope is uniting all religions to a new super christianity

I take now the 17 (duck) and the 70 (kiss): A duck is kissing the pope.

2nd-level dates


The most effective way to memorize dates will be by using a 2nd-Level system

Like no other discipline in memory sports it pays of big to use a triple system for Historic Dates. Like I wrote above it helps alot to just get rid of the first digit because in most cases it is the same. So if you are able to bring the last three digits in only one peg you have an massive advantage in speed and clarity of your images.

Normally I don’t suggest a system to anybody but in this case I am very certain that a triple system is by far the best way to get great scores in this discipline.

For example:

  • 1174 – Aliens are landing on earth

Simply take your peg for 174 (tiger) and associate it with the aliens: The aliens are riding on tigers.

Training is everything

Historical Dates on MemoCamp

Train Historical Dates on

Like all memory disciplines you have to train this one. It might be frustrating in the beginning when you compare your results to the world record. But you have to realize that Johannes Mallow is using a triple system and put a lot of effort into his training. I’d like to suggest you to train with Memocamp because the date function is excellent. There is an English version available now!