Tricks of the mind: China’s memory masters battle for place in world championships

Competitors tackle series of challenges to test their mental agility

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 October, 2017, 2:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 October, 2017, 3:45pm

Competitors ranging in age from eight to 68 took part in a wide variety of memory tasks over the weekend as part of the Chinese qualifying rounds for the World Memory Championships.

The event in Hefei, Anhui province, attracted 99 participants, according to China News Service, from cities and provinces including Nanjing, Yangzhou, Henan and Anhui.

The tests included memorising names, binary numbers, historical events, the order of a pack of playing cards and random vocabulary tests.

In one event, contestants had to memorise hundreds of numbers in five minutes.

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University student Li Yang from Huainan in Anhui, a contestant in a memory card game, said he used a visualisation technique in the competition.

“I would usually take notice of images in my surroundings, so when it comes to memory contests, I turn boring numbers and letters into a fixed image so I can remember them faster,” he said.

The youngest contestant was eight-year-old primary school student Chang Yichu, who has been training her memory for the past year.

She said she could now memorise passages from complex university-level books.

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The very best players will go on to compete in the 26th World Memory Championship finals, which will take place in China in December, although organisers have not yet disclosed the exact location.

The World Memory Championships were established by Tony Buzan and Raymond Keene in 1991, and are the first global memory sports tournament.