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by Phil Chambers | Apr 26, 2020

Edited transcript – Facebook Live by Phil Chambers, 26th April 2020

Welcome to this Facebook Live talking about the ‘Hour Cards’ discipline in the World Memory Championships. The Hour Cards is one of the marathon disciplines. The remarkable achievements people are making nowadays is staggering. The World record is 48 decks in one hour with perfect recall.

Compare that to just a few years ago, Dominic O’Brien set a Guinness World Record with 54 decks. But this was unlimited time and took him many, many hours to memorise 54. It is slightly different in that this was inter-shuffled cards, so it’s not single decks, but all the cards shuffled together and single sighting so he was only able to see each card once. After turning the second card, he wasn’t allowed to turn back to the first. It’s interesting how this inter-shuffled idea came about. It started when Creighton Carvello, one of the pioneers of memory, was trying a World Record attempt. I think it was on Japanese television. All the cards were laid out on the desk ready to memorise, and just before he started on live TV, someone knocked over the table or it collapsed. All the cards fell on the floor. Because there was no time to sort them back into individual decks they just gathered them up off the floor, put into piles of 52 and then he memorised those. Of course, having set the record in this particular set of conditions that was perpetuated. That’s how it came to be the inter shuffled-record, rather than just individual decks.

In the World Championships, you do have individual decks, which means that you can check your recall. On the recall sheets, there are the cards from 1 to 52 listed down the left-hand-side, and you can tick those off after you memorise just to make sure you haven’t left any gaps or made any mistakes by repeating the same card, or something like that. So you’ve got a good checking method. Of course, you don’t need to memorise or recall 51. Because the 52nd card is the one that’s left after you’ve ticked off all the rest, you can get away with one error of memory and still score a perfect deck.

One of the issues though, is if you forget two cards. If you only memorise 50 cards, then you’ve got a choice. Obviously, you know the two cards that are missing, but you don’t know which way round they went. It could be the first card in the first position and the second in the second position or it could be the other way round. So there are two possibilities: One gives you 52 points. The other one, because you’ve got two errors, gives you zero. You’re faced with a 50:50 chance of whether you get 52 or zero, so it’s a flip of a coin chance. However, if you’re not confident and don’t like to gamble, you can write the same card twice which means you’re guaranteed one right and one error. You have a guaranteed 26 points. Really, it’s your choice. When you’re recalling in that situation, do you go for a definite 26 in the bank as it were, or take the chance of 52 or zero? You have to decide on the best strategy depending on how lucky you feel and your position in the competition at the time.

It’s a real challenge of memory to do 52 cards multiple times, so 52 cards x 48 times in the competition. The way they do it, is they start off memorising the first deck, second deck, third deck, and then go back to the first deck after that to review. Dominic describes it like spinning plates at the circus. You have sticks with plates on top. You start spinning the first. Start the next one, start the third one. Then, as the first one starts to wobble and about to come off, you must give it a nudge to keep it going. The same thing happens with your recall of the cards. You have to go back to review the early ones so when you get to the end you’re not starting to forget those decks.

Not much else to say about cards, but I hope it’s been of interest to you.

Next discipline, next week and thanks for listening.

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