Remembering Numbers Method 2

The Dominic System

In January I told you about the Major System for remembering numbers. Now I want to tell you about the technique that I use in the World Memory Championships. It is called the Dominic System because it was invented by 5 times World Champion Dominic O'Brien.

The technique simply turns numbers or groups of numbers into vivid memorable images. So how do we get an image of The Actor Charlie Sheen swimming with a big rubber ring around his waste to represent the number 3664?

Well the technique relies on digit pairs from 00-99 each having a unique image of a person or character carrying out an action with a prop. Consider the following numbers:

 Number Character Action Prop 36 Charlie Sheen Parachuting Parachute 64 Sharon Davies Swimming Rubber Ring

I can imagine that you are scratching your heads wandering how on earth I got from 36 to Charlie Sheen parachuting. Well it is important you understand that it is unlikely you will be remember long streams of numbers or any numerical information by just thinking of the numbers themselves. That is because the numbers are all very similar and very difficult to visualise. But by creating images for each digit pair we begin to make it much easier to remember long numbers by linking together vivid pictures that represent those numbers. To get to Charlie Sheen from 36 we must give each digit a letter and then each digit pair will give two initials. From those initials we can identify someone famous or someone that we know really well. The allocation of digits to letters is as follows:

 Number Letter 0 O 1 A 2 B 3 C 4 D 5 E 6 S (for Six) 7 G 8 H 9 N(for Nine)

Broadly speaking, the first letter of the alphabet is A therefore A=1, the second letter of the alphabet is B therefore B=2 and so one. It is my own personal preference that 6=S and 9=N. So the first stage of our process of turning the number into an image gives us two letters eg 36 =CS. 22 = BB, 64 = SD and so on. The whole purpose of this is to help us remember who represents what number so that when we think of a number we work out the initials which then leads us to the character. Therefore for the number pairs 00-99 you will generate 100 pairs of initials. Now comes the fun bit. Consider each set of initials and the first person that springs to mind is the person that you will use in your imagery. For 36, the initials are CS and as I had just watched the film Navy SEAL I immediately thought of Charlie Sheen. You may think of someone else with the same initials, it does not really matter who it is as long as you can create a unique vivid image of them.

Now after identifying a character for each digit pair you need to identify a suitable action and prop for each character. For Charlie Sheen it was quite easy to think of him parachuting behind enemy lines in the film so My action for him is just that and the prop that he uses is a parachute (of course). It will take a bit of thinking and creative effort to do all of this but believe me, it is worth it. Once you have created your list of 100 initials, characters, props and actions, it is a good idea to practice translating from the number to the character and prop and vice versa. This effort will pay off. Now when you have done that, we are ready to remember groups of digits.

In the World Championships, I always remember numbers in groups of 4. So if we consider our example previously, to remember 3664 I will see Charlie Sheen swimming with a rubber ring. But I hear you cry, Charlie Sheen's prop and action are all related to parachuting. Of course you are right but we a remembering 3664 so we take the prop and action of the second digit pair and use them. As 64 gives the initials SD, I chose the swimmer Sharon Davies swimming with a rubber ring. So if we combine 36 and 64 we get Charlie Sheen swimming with a rubber ring. If we were trying to remember 6436 we would link Sharon Davies with a parachute.

So the key to generating our image is the first digit pair of a four digit number gives us the character and the second digit pair gives us the prop and action. When we recall these strange images we just reverse the process. The person that we see gives us the first pair of digit and what he or she is doing gives us the second pair. That way there is no confusion or doubt about the order of the digits.

And as with all good memory techniques, when we are generating our mental imagery, it is important to remember the principles of a superpower memory which are:

1. Synaesthesia/Sensuality
2. Movement
3. Association
4. Humour
5. Imagination
6. Number
7. Symbolism
8. Colour
9. Order and/or sequence
10. Positive images
11. Exaggeration.

You can then store the image using the journey technique or by linking it to another image that is related to the number. For example create your image of a character and a prop for the number 1666 and then link that to an image of the great Fire of London and you will always remember its date. The uses are endless. Go on, try it.