I memorised a shuffled deck of cards!

I really didn’t believe that I would be capable of memorising an entire shuffled deck of cards, but today I did it!

It took 35 minutes to memorise the shuffled deck and then 25 minutes to reconstruct the order with a different deck of cards.

Those times would make all the experienced competitors laugh – but they would laugh kindly knowing what an important step this is.

Each card is given a character, action and object. Having memorised that over the last few months, I also need a set of ten empty memory palaces, each with 50 locations. I have most of those now in memory as well. Each group of three cards creates a weird combination of character, action and object, the strange image to be placed in a location in the memory palace. I am very new at the entire process, so thrilled that I managed to fill 17 locations with images for each group of three cards and not forget a single one. Nor did I forget the Queen of Clubs who was left over.

My head hurt terribly after the hour of intense concentration.

American science journalist Joshua Foer trained intensively for a year to win the 2006 United States Memory Championship and write his wonderful book Moonwalking with Einstein, a title drawn from the strange images created. In The Memory Code I wrote:

He set a new US record by memorising a shuffled deck of 52 cards in one minute and 40 seconds. To achieve this feat, Foer trained in his basement with earmuffs and goggles to reduce distraction. Foer talks about how much he enjoyed getting better and better at dreaming up bizarre, weird, raunchy, funny and violent images to store in his memory spaces. My training is not as intense. I could not deal with the pressure of competition nor memorise at high speed. Joshua Foer trained by having fun in his silent basement. I went out and walked the dog.

My precious little dog has since died of old age. And I train in ear muffs in my silent studio. I, too, love making up the weird stories. What I don’t know is if I can ever manage the pressure of competition nor gain enough speed to qualify. Cards feature in only two of the ten events, but I’ll write more about that in future posts.

I am being helped in my training by British memory expert Dominic O’Brien. We both believe that memory loss is not inevitable in later years. At 65, my memory is the best it has ever been. With all my memory experiments, I am gaining hooks to link anything I want to remember. Click on the image below to read more about Dominic’s adventures:

Memory competition could never be described as a spectator sport – a lot of people in a silent room barely moving. This is what it looked like at the World Championships in China in 2015:
Knowing how much work it has taken just to get to the stage of attempting to memorise an entire deck of cards, I understand why there are so few competitors in Australia. This was most of the field of memory athletes receiving instructions in Melbourne in 2016:

In November this year, I will be joining them!

See also Memory Sports: I am hooked.

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4 Responses to I memorised a shuffled deck of cards!

  1. Genevieve says:

    deep sympathies on your loss of the pup. your walking the dog and memorizing the history of the world was something that hooked me in your book. i have used my pets as “kachina” which i hope doesn’t take away from their time frolicking in rainbow fields. safe journey to yours.

    your teachings have enabled me to learn three generations of the greek pantheon, the nine muses, and the geological history of earth so far. i look forward to learning much, much more. thank you so much.

    • lynne says:

      Your comment is very much appreciated, Genevieve. I am so pleased that you have found the techniques so valuable. I do miss my little dog, Epsi, but her contribution will never be forgotten.

      It is interesting that you have used your pets as ‘kachina’. As per yesterday’s post, you will see that I am now using the term ‘rapscallions’ for all the characters, but the dominant model are the kachina so I am not surprised that they are the ones you adopted from the book. A number of the students at the schools I have worked with are using their pets, some from the past, as rapscallions. It is a very good idea. Maybe it is time I gave Epsi that role as well. I hadn’t thought of that!

      Thank you again – I’d love to hear an update when you have done even more!

      Lynne

  2. Lesley Mclennan says:

    Oh well done Lynne. That has always looked such a ferocious task, especially after reading Foer’s book a few years ago! What dedication. I hope I can get myself to a state one day where such a challenge looks more stimulating than traumatising! Go Girl! There will be many silently cheering you on from the sidelines

    • lynne says:

      Thank you so much, Lesley. I adore Foer’s book. I must reread it now that I am training. I found that by relaxing and not worrying about time that it was far less daunting. I did a lot of review of the images on the way which boosted my confidence. And then I was high when I did it!

      I do hope that you try it. Nothing will stop me now.

      Thank you for the cheering. That is just encouraging me even more.

      Lynne

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