Meet Canada’s first-ever memory champion
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
Can you memorize a list of 100 random words and then recall them in perfect order? How about memorizing the order of a shuffled deck of cards in three minutes and 35 seconds?
Angel Yuen Man Lai can — and that’s what makes her Canada’s first-ever memory champion.
“I saw a person memorize a deck of cards and I said, ‘That’s really interesting. If a normal person can do that, maybe I could do that, too,’” Lai said, recalling what first sparked her interest in the activity several years ago.
Now she practises for one hour a day, memorizing five shuffled decks of cards at a time, and lists of dozens of random words.
The fledgling Canadian Memory Championship drew a handful of serious competitors and a small audience of curious onlookers to Metro Hall on Sunday afternoon.
Lai, whose family immigrated to Canada when she was 10, now lives in Hong Kong, where she teaches memory techniques.
She took home a trophy, $50 in cash — and bragging rights.
Though the so-called mental sport is in its infancy in Canada, memory competitions are held throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Organizer Simon Luisi started Memorize Toronto and decided that Canada needs its own championship event.
“People are not using their brains to their full capacity. We could be doing much more,” Luisi said.
Andy Fong, an International Grandmaster of Memory from Hong Kong, impressed the crowd by recalling the exact page and entry number for words in his dictionary.
The Canadian contestants had five minutes to memorize the order of the cards. Then they had five minutes to put another deck of cards in the same order.
Then the competitors had 15 minutes to memorize a list of 100 random words, and 30 minutes to write them out in the correct order.
The event was sponsored by Dave Farrow, a two-time Guinness Record holder for Greatest Memory. (He memorized 59 decks of cards.)
“We really want to banish the idea that a good memory is something that you’re born with. We believe it’s a skill and we’ve been able to demonstrate that,” said Farrow.
“You don’t have to memorize a deck of cards. We just want to show what’s possible. You could use these skills if you want to learn a new language or learn how to play the guitar.”
Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and dyslexia in high school, Farrow studied memory techniques and came up with his own in order to get to through school.
Memory training has become his life’s work. Farrow delivers corporate presentations and sells DVDs on how to improve your memory.
“You don’t have to wake up in the morning and do your memory push-ups. It’s a few simple techniques,” Farrow said.
One is visualizing a little story to connect a list of random words.
Hunting for lost keys, or struggling to remember what’s on the grocery list that you left at home? Ask yourself other questions you know the answer to: how many keys are on the chain? Where were you sitting when you made the list? That will help you get around the mental block that’s preventing you from remembering, Farrow said.
Memory has become a hot topic, with scientific research now suggesting that memory training and so-called brain games, such as Sudoku, can help keep the mind sharp in old age.
It’s become a preoccupation as Alzheimer’s and dementia sweep across the elderly population in North America.
At the same time, technology holds out the promise of having to remember less. Why remember that phone number when your Smartphone can store it — along with thousands of others — and call it up instantly?
“We’re becoming very good at learning how to find information, but we’re getting worse at remembering the information ourselves,” Farrow said.
International Grandmaster of Memory Andy Fong’s feats include the ability to memorize:
• 200 random numbers in five minutes
• 1,230 random numbers in one hour
• 13 decks of cards in one hour
• 1 deck of cards in 74 seconds