Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 5 - October 2005 - by Phil Chambers

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Welcome to the October issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter.

This month as well as our regular quote of the month and Mind Mapping tip, we bring you news from China of the Preliminary Chinese National Memory Championships. The final will take place on 23rd October, but this tournament still had its fair share of drama.

Quote of the Month

"Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open."

Lord Thomas Dewar

For many more quotes click here.

Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

Leave sufficient space between sets of branches - This is what five times World Mind Mapping Champion, Elaine Colliar calls the 'Feng Shui of Mind Mapping'. Tony Buzan says, "Taken to its logical conclusion, the space between items can be as important as the items themselves".

For another 100 tips on Mind Mapping see "101 Top Tips for Better Mind Maps" by Phil Chambers, available from our online shop, click here.

The Preliminary Chinese Memory Competition 2005

Report by Phil Chambers

On the morning of Sunday 25th September 2005, competitors began to assemble in the plush surroundings of the Multifunctional Conference Centre of Zhangjiang Hi-tech Group, Shanghai for the first ever memory competition to be held in China.

Arbiters and supervisors had been trained, competitors briefed and the press invited, but the mood was nevertheless apprehensive. What would the standard of competition be? Would everything go to plan?

Dong Haitao, President and Elizabeth Yu, Secretary of the Chinese Memory Sports Council opened the proceedings with short speeches and the question papers for the first event of the five disciplines, the Random Words test, were distributed. Phil Chambers, Chief Arbiter of the World Memory Sports Council, started his stopwatch for the competitors to focus in silence before the customary "Dendrites at the ready... Go!" set them into action, his words translated into Chinese.

The scores for the first event were a little disappointing. A winning total of 80 correctly memorised words in 15 minutes from 16-year-old Wu Liang from Shanghai, was well short of the World Record of 199 but creditable for a competition in its infancy.

The second event, the Binary Number is a harder discipline to achieve a good score unless you have practiced an advanced system. So it was good to see respectable performances in this event. Especially impressive was Li Xiao Tang, a 77-year-old competitor who had learned his first memory techniques the day before, but remarkably achieved 9th place. This event also saw Guo Chuan Wei take the lead in the competition.

After a break for lunch, competitors returned to the Names and Faces round. Presented with 72 photographs with 2 names underneath each and only 15 minutes to memorise them. The event was also won by Guo Chuan Wei with a score of 103, further extending his lead.

The penultimate round, Speed Numbers, also a discipline that requires a good system, saw Che Wei Jian narrow the gap with Guo Chuan Wei, with scores if 140 and 120 respectively.

Going into the final event, the Speed Cards memorisation, the competition was still wide open. Che Wei Jian finished in 1 minute and 38 seconds, a remarkable time that would qualify her to join the elite ranks of Grandmasters in this event if she could recall all 52 cards perfectly. Silently, eyes closed, she sat, going over the memory in her head whilst she waited the three and a half minutes until the recall phase. She quickly re-ordered the un-shuffled deck and then looked through the cards as she had done when memorising to double check that she hadn't made any mistakes. Then the checking process: As the cards were turned one by one the tension mounted until, to her obvious delight, a perfect score of 52 cards was confirmed by her supervisor. As the other competitors' results were gathered in it emerged that she was the only competitor to memorise a full deck and hence the only person to score any points.

However with the winning line in sight her lead was only 127 points, which Phil pointed out could still be beaten. The second trail saw her finish with time of 1:41 with Guo Chuan Wei on the adjacent desk finishing just ahead of her with a time of 1:05. However, as Che Wei Jian started her recall, she ordered a few cards and then, resigned to the fact that she had overstretched herself, simply gathered up the remainder of the cards and awaited the final score. Meanwhile Guo Chuan Wei had ordered his whole pack. The checking revealed two competitors with perfect recall of 52 cards Guo Chuan Wei and Zhuang Hai Zhang. In dramatic style often seen in memory tournaments Guo Chuan Wei's time was enough to steal the top place from Che Wei Jian.

So the final scores for the top three were:

Guo Chuan Wei         1628    (Guang Zhou)

Che Wei Jian             1294    (Guang Zhou)

Wu Liang                      878    (Shanghai)

With the mental combat over, competitors, arbiters, supervisors, supporters and sponsors stood side by side for a triumphant photograph.

After announcing the final scores Elizabeth gave a rousing speech to the competitors about their place in history as the first pioneering memory athletes in over 5,000 years of Chinese civilisation. Taking the first steps towards the Chinese National Championship to be held on 21st-23rd October this year and then on to the World Championships, which China is bidding to host in 2007.

As the tension and excitement gave way to celebratory conversation and press interviews, the competition was universally hailed as a great success with many of the observers so interested that they asked if they could attend the final. The competitors then joined organisers for dinner and continued brain-stimulating discussion going into late evening.


That's all for this month. Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions. (Contact Details Here.) I look forward to hearing from you.