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1st September 1999

27 Contestants from nine different countries battled it out for the 1999 World Memory Championships at the third Mind Sports Olympiad in London last week. It was the largest Memory Competition ever held and it was fitting that it turned out to be the most exciting.

Former World Champion Dominic O'Brien returned to the event to reclaim the title that he has already won five times. The expected duel between Dominic and defending Champion Andi Bell turned into a three horse affair with unknown American student Yu Zhang surprising all by setting new world records for the Binary Number Event (2745 in 30 minutes) and the Speed Number Event (314 in 5 minutes).

Clearly shaken by the emergence of a new memory star, the defending and former champions handled the newcomer's challenge quite differently. Andi Bell, always trying to push back the boundaries of performance, attempted high scores but never really managed to pull out his best performances, even failing to score in the speed cards event for which he holds the current world record.

On the other hand, always composed and a good performer under pressure, Dominic took the lead after the 5th event and continued to post consistently high results in every event to stay on top and win the title. In addition to taking the Senior Silver Medal, Yu Zhang also took the World Junior Title.

The Women's World Title was won by 12 year old Christiane Stenger from Germany who took the Bronze Medal in the Junior Event. Her performance was notable in that she also became the youngest ever Grandmaster of Memory.

Stephen Clarke (UK), Gunther Karsten (Germany) and Dr Yip Swe Chooi (Malaysia) also achieved the Grandmaster title for the first time.


Spread over two days the following events were contested:

Event Title Description Memorising Time Recall Time World Record
Speed Cards Memorise a single pack of playing cards as fast as possible (two attempts) 5 mins 10 mins 34.03 sec
Hour Cards Memorise as many packs of playing cards as possible 60 mins 75 mins 22.5 packs
Hour numbers Memorise as many decimal numbers as possible 60 mins 75 mins 1620
Speed Numbers Memorise as many decimal numbers as possible (2 attempts) 5 mins 10 min 314
Binary Numbers Memorise as many binary numbers as possible 30 mins 45 mins 2745
Spoken Numbers Memorise as many decimal digits as possible spoken at a rate of 2 seconds per digit (3 attempts increasing digits each time) 100 Nos

200 Nos

400 Nos

5 mins

10 mins

20 mins

Poem Memorise a previously unpublished poem 15 mins 20 mins 260 points
Words Memorise a list of random words 15 mins 20 mins 174 words
Names and Faces Memorise names and faces from photographs 15 mins 20 mins 140 points (70 names and faces)

All events were carried out in English except for the Poem and the List of Words which were also translated into German, Czech and Turkish.


Bronze, Silver and Gold Medals were awarded for the Junior and Senior competitions and the 5,000 prize fund was shared as follows:

2,000 - Overall Gold Medalist (and World Memory Champion)

1,250 - Overall Silver Medalist

1000 - Overall Bronze Medalist

500 - Overall 4th Place

250 - Overall 5th Place

Books and tapes were awarded for 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th
and the Junior 1st, 2nd, 3rd.


Successful competitors were awarded the title of Grand Master of Memory if they achieved the following results:

One Hour Numbers - 713 Numbers

One Hour Cards - 365 cards (7 complete packs + 1 additional card)

Speed Cards - A single deck of cards in three minutes or under


The overall results for the 1999 Senior World Memory Championships were:

1st - Dominic O'Brien (UK)

2nd - Yu Zhang (USA)

3rd - Andi Bell (UK)

The overall results for the 1999 Junior World Memory Championships were:

1st - Yu Zhang (USA)

2nd - Coral Palmer (USA)

3rd - Christiane Stenger (Germany)

The top three scores in each event were:

Event 1st 2nd 3rd
Speed Cards 52.91s 1m 11.21s 1m 14.78 s
Hour Cards 20 packs 18 packs 15.02 packs
Hour numbers 1600 1560 1328
Speed Numbers 314 (new
world record)
248 242
Binary Numbers 2745 (new
world record)
2232 1500
Spoken Numbers 200 100 88
Poem 220 pts 151 pts 129 pts
Words 163 words 133 words 111 words
Names and Faces 137 pts 111.5. pts 104.5 pts

... the longest journey starts with a single step ...


Links are given in the table below to the areas of Accelerated Learning
written by Michael Tipper for Project HappyChild.

Michael organised the 1999 and 2000 World Memory Championships but his ever-increasing workload - speeches plus presentations to businesses and schools (see bio) - has compelled him to step down from organizing further Championships. If you would like to find out more about registering as a contestant (or to be an arbiter/judge) for future World Memory Championships, contact Mind Sports Worldwide (link on the main Accelerated Learning home page).

WELCOME PAGE The Accelerated Learning pages at Project HappyChild are written (free) by Michael Tipper,
Silver Medallist in the World Memory Championships.


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The main index to Michael Tipper's pages on Accelerated Learning is at
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