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The Random Numbers Discipline
Form:AMSC
Apr.02,2020

Edited transcript – Facebook Live – 29th March 2020 by Phil Chambers

Welcome to this Facebook Live, talking about the third of the World Memory Championships disciplines – The Random Numbers.

Random numbers is one of the main definitive tests of memory. One of the marathon disciplines, which along with cards, forms the International Master of Memory. It goes back right to the very first competition. There are many systems and techniques used for memorising random numbers. In the very early years, we had a competitor called Philip Bond, and he’s a very smart guy. He was a city trader, and he had number synaesthesia, which means it’s a blending of the senses and for him, every number had a particular colour. He was able to use colours, in combination with other systems, using extra associations to be able to recall more digits. 

The next evolution in the technique was The Major System. This is converting numbers into sounds. Sue Whiting, the Women’s World Champion, was a master of the Major System. All the systems really work on a similar basis of somehow converting digits into something more tangible and The Major System converts them into objects. 

Dominic O’Brien had a similar system which converted numbers into people. You can imagine each pair of digits representing a person through the initial letters of their name. For him, the number two became a ‘B’. So ’22’ became ‘Bug’s Bunny’. He can then picture Bugs Bunny in his imagination much easier than just the digits themselves, of course. Dominic extended it further though, and gave each person an action. Bugs Bunny could be eating carrots, for example. He would take four digits at a time. The first two becomes the person. The second two becomes the action of the second person. For example, for him, ’33’ would be ‘CC’. This would be ‘Charlie Chaplin’. If you have Charlie Chaplin eating a carrot, that becomes 3322. Whereas, Bugs Bunny twirling a cane would be 2233. You can take it in fours across the line. There are 40 digits to a line. He could have ten memory locations, with two pairs of digits in each location, across the line. 

Taking it one step further, you can have Person-Action-Object where you have the first two is a person, second two is an action and third two is an object all associated to each other. That could be, of course, six across the line. Andi Bell was a master of Person-Action-Object.

Ben Pridmore, had another system. Instead of going for twos, he took it in threes and had an object or an action or an image for 000 right the way to 999. He had 1000 different combinations. And he took those in threes so, in fact, he could have nine digits to one location – Much more condensing of the information. Of course, high maintenance, though to have 1000 images. A lot of work to prepare and maintain those. 

Really, you take your choice, and apply whichever system you choose to convert numbers into objects, actions or people and then add those to locations along a mental journey to give you the numbers along the length of the line. 

For those of you who’ve seen my ‘Binary’ broadcast last week, I was talking about how you can get extra points with Binary. You do the same thing with decimals. If you end up with a final full line, it’s the final line you’ve memorised. If you add one digit on the next line down, either you get it right and get points, or you get it wrong and you get half of what you’ve attempted. You actually get half a point and then we round it up. So even if you get it wrong, you still get a point. It’s one way of getting extra points, just by writing one extra digit down. If you add more than one, then it becomes much more a game of chance. You’ve got very little chance of getting points because, of course, we’ve only got a 1 in 10 probability of a guessed number being correct. So certainly no point writing more than one digit on your final line, but adding an extra digit can give you a guaranteed extra point either way. 

So that’s really all I’ve got to say about numbers. There are many different techniques to use. You just have to pick a good technique, and practise. 

Hopefully, that’s been of interest. 

Next week, we look at the next discipline. Until then, thanks for listening, and bye for now. 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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