EP24 – Ben Pridmore on being a 3-time Memory World champion, Memorising Cards and DJ Shadow!

Ben Pridmore is a three time World Memory Champion winning the title 2004, 2008 and 2009 . He achieved this by winning a 10-discipline competition in the World Memory Championship, which has taken place every year since 1991. He has also earned the prestigious title of Master of Memory. During our hour talk, I get a real sense of what makes Ben tick, his very humble, honest and humorous demeanour and I learn a lot about the world of memory!

He held the official world record for memorizing the order of a randomly shuffled 52-card deck, and has memorised a pack in a time of 24.68 seconds on television. We talk about how he does this and he gives out a technique that anyone can use. I’m currently practicing for fun as part of my monthly challenges.  Besides memory sports he is famous for his mental calculation skills and took part in the Mental Calculation World Cup in 2004, 2006 and 2010. Ben says he has an IQ of 159 putting him in the genius range but doesn’t think too much about it and only joined Mensa to talk about it with Friends.

Like most memory experts, he creates a mental story, comprises a sequence of images in a variation of the Mnemonic Major System. Ben invented a technique, now known as ‘the Ben’ where two cards are represented as a three letter word by the first consonant derived from the suits, the vowel from the first card’s number, and the final consonant from the second card’s number. He explains this and how it’s helped in bringing down the time to memorize a deck of cards.

Ben is now very involved in bringing more memory competitions to other countries and using the internet for this. We talked about the possibility of getting some memory competitions to Cork or Ireland which Ben is open to. While Ben generally just uses his memory skills in competition, many of his friends that are applying these to their day to day lives with great advantage.

We talk about IQ v EQ, what’s it like to be a star in a music video, the good habits memory training can bring, advice on trying anything as we’re all great at something and lots more. We talk about the lack of performance enhancing drugs during Memory championships, and so many more really fun topics around memory. Ben also recites the first 50 digits of PIE on the show and talks about memorizing about a 1000 digits places per day in his training for a world record attempt to memorise digits of PIE (3.14…). He had memorised it to 50000 places or thereabouts before another memory athlete took the world record. We talked about the energy that is involved memorizing and how much of a state it can leave it you in after a many day competition.

Ben gives out some simple tips that you can use to help improving your memory toward the end of the show. I bring up an image of Claudia Schiffer in a bath of Milk. You’ll have to listen to understand! At the very end, we finish up talking about Ben being featured in the music video for DJ Shadow‘s single “Scale It Back” that shows his memory journey that he uses for his 52 times in the card deck.

Books and Documentaries recommended:

  1. Use your memory by Tony Buzan
  2. Moonwalking with Einstein – Josh Foer
  3. Documentaries about the world memory championships in 2007 called ‘the mentalist’

Link to Ben on Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Pridmore

Link to Ben in video with DJ Shadow – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL9ypNz9-mM

Check out the World Memory Forum and search for Ben online.

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