Memory Sports

Memory sports are competitions in which participants memorise information following set rules. There have been formal memory sports events since 1991 at national and international levels. It is a rapidly growing sport in schools worldwide. The Orality Centre is investigating this growing trend and assisting schools who may wish to introduce memory clubs. Although the competition is for fun, the methods used overlap with the indigenous memory methods being researched and taught for use across the curriculum.

Schools around the world are now establishing memory clubs. There are very few in Australia, but that is expected to change very soon. We want to be part of that change.

Memory techniques, such as the use of memory palaces, are employed by competitors. The sport particularly appeals to The Orality Centre because it offers students a competitive activity based on mental athleticism which, unlike chess, enables them to compete against themselves, just constantly trying to improve their times and achievements.

For the Open competition, there are ten events:

  1. Names and Faces
  2. Binary Numbers
  3. Random Numbers
  4. Abstract Images
  5. Speed Numbers
  6. Historic / Future Dates
  7. Playing Cards
  8. Random Words
  9. Spoken Numbers
  10. Speed Cards

The Schools Competition consists of:

  1. Random Numbers (15 minutes memorisation, 20 minutes recall)
  2. Random Words – simple nouns (15 minutes memorisation, 20 minutes recall)
  3. Fictional Events – Historic / Future dates (5 minutes memorisation, 15 minutes recall)

Schools may include two more disciplines of their choice. The Orality Centre will encourage the addition of Playing Cards and Speed Cards, where the order of random shuffled decks of cards are memorised.

The World Memory Championships were founded by Tony Buzan and Ray Keene in 1991. The first winner was Dominic O’Brien (UK) who is still the highest ranked memory athlete with 8 world championship titles. The championship has been won by four Brits, three Germans, one Chinese, one Swede, and one American. The current world champion is Alex Mullen (US).

The 2016 Australian Memory Championship was won by Anastasia Woolmer (left) with Daniel Kilov (right) taking second place.

Dominic O’Brien

Lynne Kelly is currently training for the Australian Memory Championships under the guidance of Dominic O’Brien – 8 times world memory champion, author and creator of The Dominic System.

See also Wikipedia on Memory Sports.