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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PRYMD Podcast

Here's a recent podcast I did for PRYMD, a podcast/blog/organization dedicated to optimizing mental performance. The cool thing is that both hosts are in the medical field as well (one's a physician and the other's a medical student like myself), so we dug extra deep into memory techniques as they relate to learning a subject like medicine. Regular followers will find some familiar material, but there's definitely some newer, nitty-gritty stuff--keeping track of palaces, reviewing with Anki, transitioning from palaces to long-term memory--in the mix too. Hope you enjoy!

2016 Extreme Memory Tournament & US Open Recap

Another great XMT-US Open trip in the books. All in all, I spent a week and a half in California, taking in the sun, hanging out with my mother- and father-in-law in between events, and enjoying some friendly competition.

Like last year, I flew in the morning before the first day, just in time for orientation. Everything about this year’s Extreme Memory Tournament mimicked last year’s, with one notable exception. Nelson and the organizers stretched the event to 3 days instead of 2. A big improvement, in my opinion. Last year, as thrilled as I was to make it to the semis, I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time I got there. It really does take a toll on you. You boot up another 50 words for the umpteenth time that day and things mush together...

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XMT Time!

Last bit of training before I head out early Thursday for this year's Extreme Memory Tournament! In its third year now, the XMT is easily the coolest and most fun-to-watch memory competition out there. Make sure to check out all the action at XMTLive.com. In addition to the usual live display showing all competitors' screens and results, Florian Delle (founder of Memory-Sports.com; I interviewed him earlier this past year) and Max Berkowitz (an actual sportscaster!) are going to be adding some color commentary all day long. It's gonna be great! So be sure to tune in online for the group stage starting 8:30 am PDT on Friday.