Monday, March 12, 2007

Remember me?

On Saturday afternoon, I attended the last two rounds of the 10th Annual USA Memory Championships, and I really enjoyed myself. The event was free to attend and I also got some cake, chocolate, and Smart Water (not everything in New York is expensive). The first event that I saw was the "Tea Party," in which contestants, known as Mental Athletes (MAs), had to remember many different facts (name, phone number, favorite car, hobbies, etc...) about 5 separate people. Then, the MAs were asked quizzed on these facts. A person would come out and the first MA in the row would provide that person's name, the second MA would provide the address, and so on.

Poor Chester Santos (all the way on the right with the medals) was stuck with the phone number two times in a row and he was one of the two MAs eliminated in this round. I ran into him later in the bathroom and while he was upset, particularly because he is very good at the final event (memorizing a deck of cards), he was still friendly and gave me some behind the scenes info.

As mentioned, the final round was memorizing a deck of cards and while this was very compelling in person, I feel like it might be even better on TV if they give viewers the chance to memorize cards as well. 16-year-old Brice Morey (who reminded me a lot of Eric) finished in third place, and when Ram Kolli could not remember the 31st card in the deck, David Thomas became the U.S. champion. It's a little disappointing because David is actually British and just moved to America recently, but he did do a great job.

In closing, I liked this event because it was very accessible (in the idea that memory is something that we are constantly engaged with) and that people watching the event can attempt to play along. But at the same time, these competitors are incredibly impressive and it is almost invariably fascinating to see people who are the best in the country or world at anything. Finally, I first read about memory competitions last year when Josh Foer (TC '04) won the competition, and now I might even try some practice myself...

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