2017 IAM World Memory Championship Recap

WMC No. 3! I’m home after three long weeks—a Florida wedding followed by the 2017 IAM World Memory Championship in Jakarta, Indonesia. I can’t resist giving a shoutout to my friends Saumya and Khush for an awesome wedding week. Those guys know how to throw a party! After five days in Palm Beach, Cathy and I hopped back in a plane trying not to think about how we’d be spending the next 50+ hours traveling. Fort Lauderdale to Memphis, to our hometown of Oxford for a night, back to Memphis, to Atlanta, to Tokyo, to Jakarta. A slew of Silicon Valley, Modern Family, and Last Week Tonight episodes later, we were riding through the hot Indonesian night with fellow American competitor John Graham, Mongolian competitor Yanjaa Wintersoul, and WMC organizers Yudi and Bey. After two days of milling around the city—seeing the National Monument and an Indonesian puppet show, among other things—I found myself face-to-face with another WMC. Things were destined to be different...

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Flash Profile with Chinese Memory Athlete Su Zehe

Chinese memory athlete Su Zehe just won the 2017 Philippine Open and broke the world record in the IAM's new 5 minute images event. I had the fortune of meeting him at the 2016 World Memory Championship in Singapore and again in Nanjing for the The Brain TV show. I had a chance to do a short interview (more of a flash profile) with him in Nanjing. Hope you enjoy!

 At the 2016 World Memory Championship in Singapore. Left to right: me, Huang Shenghua, and Su Zehe.

At the 2016 World Memory Championship in Singapore. Left to right: me, Huang Shenghua, and Su Zehe.

Name: 苏泽河, Su Zehe (Su1 Ze2He2)

Recent competition results: 2017 Philippine Open – 1st place (full results here), 2016 World Memory Championship – 3rd place (full results here).

Rank: world #9, national (China) #1

You can read Su Zehe’s full IAM profile here.

From: a Southeast province of China, close to Taiwan

Intro to memory sports: came across a book about memory techniques in high school; interest was again piqued by watching memory athletes on the Chinese TV show 最强大脑 (“The Brain”).

Su Zehe was himself a contestant on the show this season. You can watch his challenge here. You can find his Weibo page here (although you will need a Weibo account to view).

Career interests/hobbies: interested in working for a memory company; likes practicing magic.

Training tools/history: practices mostly on paper; will occasionally use the Chinese Extreme Memory website (which had an online competition this past year), although not very often; trained alongside Zheng Aiqiang (world #17); will often communicate with other Chinese memory athletes via WeChat groups.

Systems: 2-digit/1-card, 2 images/locus, similar to the majority of Chinese competitors.

A Brief Summary of Lifestyle Habits

I recently received a question about my lifestyle habits (re: exercise, sleep, meditation, diet, etc.), so I wanted to post a brief answer here. I'm often asked if I take supplements, so I've included that as well. Hopefully I'll get around to writing something more detailed, but for now here's a (very) brief summary:

I wouldn't say my lifestyle goals have changed since starting memory sports, although my involvement has given me extra motivation to stick to them. My approach is pretty basic. Nothing ground-breaking. I try to exercise daily--a combination of weights, cardio, and calisthenics. I shoot for 7.5+ hours of sleep. I meditate 10-20 minutes per day with the Headspace app. I don't keep a strict diet, but I try to eat a lot of vegetables and fish. I take one NOW DHA-500 capsule each day; this is the only supplement I take. I avoid soda and sugary drinks.

For more about my memory training schedule, see "What is your training schedule like?" on the Tips page.

You can read about 2x world memory champion Wang Feng's lifestyle habits in our interview here.

My Challenge on The Brain China TV Show

If the video below is removed, you can try this Youku link. Unfortunately the show's Youtube channel has been removing earlier videos.

This past month I've twice had the privilege of traveling to Nanjing, China, to participate on The Brain TV show (known locally as 最强大脑, literally "the strongest brain"; also often referred to as Superbrain, the name of its German forebear). Prior to taping, a producer let me in on the little factoid that the show has 400M seasonal viewers, which didn't do great things for the nerves. Memory competitors have for years though been competing on The Brain, now in its fourth season, so I was excited to take part.

I first competed in a challenge alongside the legendary 2x world champ Wang Feng, who has been a fixture on the show since season one. When I first began with memory techniques, he was one of those larger-than-life figures of memory sports lore. I kept having to pinch myself. Anyway, my first episode--which involved memorizing info about airline flights (take-off and landing times, origin and destination cities, and flight numbers of 50 flights)--was broadcast in China Friday night. It may be difficult to understand for non-Chinese speaking viewers, but hopefully the snappy sound effects and crazy visuals are enough to keep you entertained! It was a good time!

You can watch the episode (which included two other challenges: Marwin Wallonius vs 余彬晶 and Yanjaa Altansuh vs 奕沛) above.

You can watch my second episode on the show here.

2016 World Memory Championship Recap

It’s that time of year again. Two weeks ago, Cathy and I stuffed our bags and hopped in an airplane for 25+ hours for the annual World Memory Championship. After last year’s event in Chengdu, China, the organizers bumped the venue to Singapore, which I found to be a truly awesome place. Buildings of all colors and architectural styles, greenery everywhere, clean streets, and crazy vistas around every corner. We had a blast just walking around. The one downside: the unrelenting 80o humidity. As usual, we arrived a few days early to acclimate...

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2016 European Open Recap

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to London for the IAM’s first European Open Memory Championship. A lot of firsts for me on this trip: first time I’d been to England, first time I’d competed at a memory event not in the US or China. Originally I’d had a conflict, but things shifted at the last minute, so the preceding weekend Cathy and I found ourselves huddled around the kitchen table booking airline tickets. The event—like the recent UK Memory League Championship—was held at the London headquarters of Peak, a brain-training app which also sponsored the event...

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2016 Memoriad (World Mental Olympics) Recap

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to spend a week in Las Vegas for the 2016 Zappos Memoriad, billed as a “World Mental Olympics” that happens every four years. Knowing the Memoriad was this year was one of the things that convinced me to take a gap year from medical school. And since my wife and I are spending a few months with my parents-in-law in California, it was only a 5-hour drive away! My parents and brother even uprooted from New York to be with us the following weekend. It all added up to a bunch of fun, although after a vacation in Norway and now this, I must admit I’m getting a bit travel-weary. I’m hopeless at maintaining my usual working routine while traveling...

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