Memory Games (2018) Movie Script

[ship horn blaring]
-Hey, man.
-What's your name?
-Mine? I don't know.
In the name
of all the competitors,
I promise that we shall
take part in this competition
in the true spirit
of sportsmanship and the honor
of our teams.
Memory is so abstract
it's hard to say what is
exactly my first memory,
but one is sitting
on my mom's lap
the Mongolian alphabet,
and, uh...
her trying to make the shapes
into images,
and I remember thinking
that letters were like magic,
and that my mom
was magic. [chuckles]
It's one of the earliest
memories I have.
I think people
are reaching a point where
they're getting emotionally
more apathetic
because there's just
so much information.
It causes
this information overload
that your brain starts
to decide that
everything that's new,
you don't really need
to memorize 'cause
it's on the Internet
or you don't really need
to remember this awesome trip
you had because you have
pictures of it.
Learn to put your passport in.
[Yanjaa] I learnt about
memory techniques
while I was in
the first semester
of business school...
...'cause I wanted to finish
the four-year degree
in like two years,
or one and
a half, if possible.
If I do it from that angle,
it's Johnson, 763...
No way! [laughing]
And the last secret digit
is 183806.
-And then yours is...
-That's awesome.
-Oh, my God!
-That is amazing.
English. [clears throat]
They contacted
the Swedish Memory Sports
Council and said,
"Do you have some competitors
who haven't yet done
Sweden's Got Talent?"
[laughs] And then
I did the audition.
I had 20 kids
from the audience,
and I memorized
their names in 90 seconds.
Marcus, Ofelia,
Moa, Josefine,
Anna, Gianna.
And it went pretty well.
The Swedish version
of Simon Cowell was like,
"You're amazing."
And he pressed
the golden buzzer
and then there was
confetti everywhere.
I was told I had made it
to the semifinals.
[crowd cheering]
Being able to remember names
and faces is really good
for professional settings
'cause you shake hands
with so many people,
and people remember people
who remember them.
[knock on door]
-[door opens]
-[woman speaking Swedish]
Are you ready?
[in English] Yeah.
I think everybody wants
to be smarter fundamentally.
Everyone wants
a better memory.
I mean, just think
of all the passwords
we have
to memorize nowadays.
[speaking Swedish]
Like this, then I wrote
a seven like this.
[Yanjaa speaking Swedish]
As long as I see what is one
and what is a seven.
[in English] So
I was reading books
on how to make it
more efficient
and just by happenstance,
I just kind of saw this book
called Moonwalking
with Einstein.
Hi, my name is Yanjaa.
Today I want to talk
about the book
that introduced me
to the world of memory.
Moonwalking with Einstein
by Joshua Foer.
Because I have no patience,
I always open
the last chapter first,
where it's revealed
that he won, and then
I was like, "Well,
he's just some American dude.
I can do it too." [laughs]
[clock ticking]
The whole thing about memory
is everything looks the same
when you don't know
anything about it.
So the numbers, they just look
like a wall of numbers
when you don't know anything
about memory techniques.
[speaking Swedish]
One, seven, three, nine,
seven, four,
two, two, three, one,
seven, eight, seven, one,
three, five, seven,
five, six, nine...
-[buzzer chimes]
Eight, six, four, six,
five, nine...
Three, four, five, one.
[crowd cheering and applauding]
[speaking Swedish]
Standing ovations
in the studio here!
[guitar music playing]
Tell me
Where you're going
And what is going wrong
I felt you'd be there
Before you were even gone
[in English] I was born
in Mongolia,
in Ulaanbaatar, the capital,
and then I was raised there
until I was four or five,
and then I moved to Sweden.
My mom and my dad
are very emotional people
who both have great memories,
which is great
for learning languages,
not great
for maintaining relationships.
[both speaking Mongolian]
Which do you prefer?
The pink. I am not sure.
The cream color
suits you better.
[in English] Because we have
all the world's information
in the palm
of our hands nowadays,
I think it's hard
for people to
justify spending time
and so everybody's memorizing
less and less.
[woman speaking Mongolian]
How do you practice
for a competition?
[Yanjaa speaking Mongolian]
There are online platforms,
memo-camp, memory-league.
Or you can print out
competition practice sheets.
[woman speaking Mongolian]
What kind of things
do you have to memorize?
[Yanjaa speaking Mongolian]
During the competition
we memorize
numbers for 30 minutes.
For example,
up to 1000 digits
in the correct order.
It's quite difficult
in the beginning,
but over time it becomes
very natural and easy.
[in English] A memory journey
is a place for you
to sort abstract concepts
into more concrete places,
like places you already know.
The Appledore vaults
are my mind palace.
You know about mind palaces,
don't you, Sherlock?
How to store information
so you never forget it,
by picturing it.
I just sit here,
I close my eyes
and down I go to my vaults.
I can go anywhere
inside my vaults.
My memories.
So what exactly is a mind
or a memory palace?
And how do you use it
so even Sherlock is afraid?
Well... [chuckles]
At its simplest level,
it's about attaching
memorable images to names,
numbers or information
you need to remember,
and then storing those images
in some place
like a palace or...
any building, really,
you can imagine
walking through
when you want to retrieve it.
Now let's say
you're visiting London
and you need to remember
the first three stops on
the Victoria Underground.
You simply add an image
to each of them.
So, Brixton becomes
a ton of bricks,
and Stockwell, shelves
stocked full with food,
and Vauxhall could be box,
an opera singer singing
an opera in a concert hall.
Now, if you're cramming
for exams
or you're a memory contestant,
you create
a more complex system,
where you assign every number
for example, a letter,
which then translates into
a word you can remember.
And you can create words
from two numbers or three
or even four.
Let's say you want to remember
the year 1240.
Now one is a "T", two,
an "N", four, an "R",
and zero, an "X".
Turn rex.
The year 1240 suddenly becomes
a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Or, if you're Charles
Augustus Magnussen,
your complex memory system
stores thousands of details
on people's lives.
Allowing you
to blackmail them.
You see?
When you describe it,
it sounds so difficult
and it's so much
easier done than said.
When you have, like, a strong
association of feeling
about every single set
of three digits,
it all becomes alive.
One is a "T",
one is also an "I"
and two is an "N".
So, 112 would be "tin."
That could be the Tin Man
fromspan style="bodyStyle" The Wizard of Oz,
because it's just
easier to remember
one memorable character
rather than
a group of numbers.
I've memorized the first
200 pages of this dictionary.
So, if you just give me
a number between one to 200...
[man] Um, 67.
Sixty-seven. Now,
give me a number
between one to 11.
[man] Nine.
Nine. I think it's "box".
B-O-X, box.
Let's take a look at page 67.
Sixty-seven, nine.
Yeah, "box."
[people chattering]
[speaking German]
My friends and family
reacted quite positively.
There was never a suggestion
that it's either
absurd or strange
that I attend
so many memory competitions
and that I devote
so much time to it.
I first came across memorizing
as a sport in 2005.
There was
this training software.
At level one, you had to
memorize five words.
I grew up
playing video games as a kid
so I was familiar
with the level system.
And I found it fascinating.
[in English]
Could all competitors
please take their seats?
Your arms at the ready.
[automated voice]
Nine, eight, seven, six,
five, four, three,
two, one, zero.
Seven, eight, six, zero,
nine, eight, four,
seven, nine, three, eight,
seven, zero,
nine, three, one, five, zero,
five, two, four, eight,
three, zero, four,
[Simon speaking German]
I tend not to use images
that are
out of the ordinary.
I prefer harmonious images
that fit in well
and that I actually like.
[automated voice in English]
...eight, six...
[continuing in German]
In my memory system Number 86
is a coat of arms.
[automated voice in English]
...six, eight, four,
seven, four, one, zero,
seven, three, four, eleven,
six, six, nine, three, zero,
one, five...
[in German]
Each location
in my memory palace
acts as a kind of stage.
Where a little story
takes place.
[dolphin chatters]
[automated voice in English]
...six, six, nine, one, zero,
three, one, five, four.
Okay, pick up
your recall sheets.
[Simon speaking German]
And when I want
to retrieve the information,
it comes back to me
in an almost magical way.
[Tony Buzan speaking English]
This is all the results.
The numbers that
will be generated
will actually demonstrate
that the capacity
of the human brain
is much greater
than any of the memory
psychologists thought
even 15 years ago.
And the World
Memory Championships
are showing the potential
of human beings.
It's marvelous,
it's magnificent.
[people chattering]
Afternoon, ladies
and gentlemen.
In silver position,
Simon Reinhard.
[audience applauding]
And in gold medal position,
just before the speed cards,
Johannes Mallow.
[audience applauding]
Simon's very good
in speed cards
so, you know,
let's see what happens,
I cannot say what happens.
[indistinct chatter]
[man] I'll give it to you
and you shuffle.
[man speaking over PA]
Ten seconds.
Your arms at the ready.
It's quite fascinating to see
the battle of the titans
between the first two.
And then the strategy
and the player, you know,
one of them's trying
to do a really fast time,
the other one is trying to do
a safe time just to win.
But they've kind of
balanced each other out,
so it's too close to call.
[Simon] Thank you.
Johannes has got it!
The new world champion!
[audience cheering]
Thanks, thanks.
[man] Congratulations.
Thanks, thanks,
thank you very much.
[Johannes speaking German]
My first memory dates back to
when I had to go to hospital
to have my tonsils removed.
I still clearly remember
being admitted to hospital,
and as I lie there,
I see someone next to me
and at some point
I blacked out.
I'm just clicking through
the entire presentation
to check
if everything is there.
The model of the three types
of memories consists of
short-term, working
and long-term memory.
I first came across
memory sport
watching a TV show.
A memory coach
taught an actress
how to memorize
a twenty-digit number.
I thought if she can do it,
surely I could do it too.
At the time I was studying
information technology
in Magdeburg.
I wondered how I could earn
some money along the way.
So, I looked
into memory sport.
Just look at the images.
Lean back
and enjoy the slide show.
That's my usual preparation.
I talk to the wall,
and that seems to work
quite well.
[narrator speaking English]
So, how did this
memory palace technique
get started?
The story told is that
the Greek poet Simonides
was invited to recite
at a big celebration
in a temple.
After his performance,
he went outside to meet
some messengers.
the temple collapsed...
crushing everyone inside.
Simonides was called upon
to help identify the bodies.
So he walked through the temple
in his mind,
re-visualizing exactly where
everyone had been sitting.
The memory palace technique
was born.
Soon it was being used
to memorize speeches,
and philosophical arguments
by Greek and Roman
writers like Aristotle
and Cicero.
[Johannes speaking German]
Today we're going to create
a cheat sheet in our heads.
But before we start
I'd like you all
to raise your right fist.
Now raise your left fist
and bring them together.
Now look down at them.
That's roughly
the size of your brain.
In ancient Greece
they could hold a lecture for
hours without any notes.
No pens or paper, and
you can't carry stone tablets.
In the past,
if you had to
remember something,
you had to memorize it.
That's no longer
the case nowadays.
For information, you get your
pocket brain, your smartphone.
We are going to create
a little story about
this couch and axe.
For instance,
I'm angry at my couch
because there is stain on it.
That's why I'm taking the axe
and hack the couch to bits.
Easy to memorize,
and I think it's going
to stick in your mind.
The mnemonic peg system
works by associating
each digit from zero to nine
with an image
that looks similar
to the digit.
Zero looks a little bit
like an egg.
So, zero becomes an egg.
The 1 could be a candle.
2 looks a little bit
like a swan.
3 might be a trident.
[in English] Cheers.
[speaking in German]
I feel great.
I taught them something useful,
that's really cool.
And I am sure that at least
some of them
will benefit from it.
[Nelson] My first memory,
I was three years old,
I remember seeing
the older kids learning
how to read,
but we weren't gonna read
in our class.
But I went home that day
and told my mom
that I wanted to read,
or learn how to read,
and she came in and talked
to the teacher,
and by the end of that year,
I was still three,
um, I was learning how to read.
It was a book called
The Village
with Three Corners.
So growing up, I played
a lot of basketball.
Being tall, I was often kind of
shoved into that sport.
But I wasn't that good.
I was a skinny, lanky guy,
so I'd always
get pushed around
and yelled at by my coach
'cause I was a "big guy
but I didn't play like one."
Eventually, I found cross fit.
It's competitive,
it's hardcore,
it's made me stronger
than I've ever been,
and I do it nearly
every single day.
I'd always been interested
in things with the mind,
things that were
kind of beyond
what people think
your brain is capable of.
That's always
kind of been there.
And when I studied physics
and mathematics,
that's what
I got my degree in,
a lot of our teachers,
our professors,
could do
some really impressive
on the fly calculations,
and I always admired that
and thought to myself,
"That's a really
cool skill to have."
But memory never really
became a huge interest of mine
until my grandmother, um,
started getting
worse and worse,
um, with Alzheimer's,
and, um, she lived abroad,
in France,
and so we'd get to see her
maybe every...
six months to a year,
so, near the end,
the differences between
when I had seen her last
were huge
and super shocking to me.
And when she finally passed,
that was kind of like this...
I can't believe that a disease
that kind of
affects your memory
eventually took her.
Her body forgot
how to function.
That's what really...
I said, "Okay, I'm gonna
try and figure out
what this memory world
is really about
and start using it
and training myself
to eventually
not end up like her."
I started doing research
and one of the first things
I heard about
was the Memory Championship,
the US Memory Championship,
and that seemed like
a perfect target
for me to aim for.
You know, there were
specific disciplines
with records
and it was a measurable goal.
"I'm gonna improve my memory,
and I'm gonna
have to win that competition
and break records.
Cool, let me do that."
[people chattering]
[announcer] And what I always
like to say to all of you
as we begin
our day here this morning,
we're doing
something extraordinary
and something that's becoming
more and more important
and timely in our world today
as brain health
continues to be
one of the hottest
topics in the world.
What's important
about the journey
is that
it's something you know,
that it has associations
to emotions.
It's a bunch
of emotional cues
kind of jumbled together,
funny stuff, crazy images.
[werewolf growling]
You have ten minutes
for recall.
You may begin.
[indistinct chatter]
[announcer] Uh, with 125
is Alex Mullen right here
in the front row.
[audience applauding]
And breaking his own USA mark,
Nelson Dellis with 201.
[audience applauding]
[announcer] Congratulations
to all eight finalists
in this year's
memory competition.
We'll have six people
come up on stage.
Introduce themselves
to the mental athletes.
They get three misses and
they are out of the party.
So based on what they've done
this morning,
this is going to be
a real interesting event.
Hi, my name is
Heather Anne Parcell.
My birthday is May 2nd, 1987.
I live in Brooklyn,
New York, 112-11.
I've a gray cat
by the name of Mina.
The phone number
you can reach me at
is 450-3589.
My favorite car is
a 1995 Toyota Supra Turbo,
apple red.
And my three favorite foods
are leg of lamb...
...mac and cheese...
...and chocolate croissants.
Mental athletes,
you get a chance to go back
to your study hall
for a few minutes.
[announcer] Nelson,
tell us his phone number.
Excellent. And his pet?
Uh, it's a dog, a Doberman,
black and brown, named Killer.
[announcer] Okay, Nelson,
it's over to you
for her residence.
Uh, New York, New York, 10024.
[announcer] And her
phone number, Alex.
[announcer] Favorite car?
Uh, 1995 Toyota Supra,
twin turbo in red apple.
[announcer] You got it.
Good work.
Favorite foods?
Spicy salmon roll...
Trader Joe's mini...
peanut butter cups,
Reese's peanut butter cups.
-[announcer] Good.
-Um, and...
[lady] Time's up.
[announcer] And our retaining
champion, Nelson Dellis.
[audience applauding]
So, Nelson now becomes
the second person
to win
the US Memory Championship
four times,
so, congratulations.
[audience cheering]
-Do you mind if I take
a picture with you?
-Of course, yeah.
Maybe you can stand
over there.
Memory is to be human,
I think.
Uh, it's who we are.
On a more personal level,
you know, this is how we also
develop relationships.
This is what makes life
meaningful, is memory.
That's why it makes me
really sad
when I think about
my grandmother
and her losing those memories
is because she lost...
the essence of what made her
who she was.
[indistinct chatter]
[Simon speaking German]
I think that our ability
to remember
allows us to move
forward in life.
I think that there is
a very close connection
between remembering,
memory and identity.
A person's identity
is closely tied
to the experiences
that shape their lives.
And in the same way,
culture is the sum
of all valuable and important
memories of a society
throughout its history.
Ultimately, culture is memory.
[Yanjaa in English]
There's, like,
the collective memory
that we tell each other
and that can really shape
how you view yourself
and how others view you.
You can feel super attractive
next to someone
who remembers you as
a very attractive person,
and then you talk to someone
who knew you when you
were a geek.
People struggle with my
nickname Yanjaa so much.
When people introduce
themselves it's like,
"Hello, I'm Ana.
Hi, Ana, my name is Thomas."
Think they don't sound like
that, but they do.
And then we have me,
"I'm Yanjaa."
And the next time I meet them
I'm like, "Hi, Ana."
And they're like, "Oh, hey..."
And that's when I realize,
they don't know my name.
Every single time
I'm like, "Yanjaa."
The second time I meet them
I'm like, "Yanjaa."
And then the third time
I'm like,
I can be Geisha, Ganja.
It's basically the same thing
for my mouth,
Ninja is much easier.
You know what?
Just go with that,
call me whatever you want.
It's Yanjaa, mispronounce it.
[birds chirping]
I moved to Austin in 2016.
Nice food, nice weather,
nice people
and an opportunity for me
to get better
at speaking English, so.
-Are you okay?
Hey, everybody.
Come here, you guys.
Come sit here.
The capital of Mongolia,
where I'm from
is called Ulaanbaatar.
We're all gonna draw a bat
that goes "Ola",
and then it says,
"Arr" as well.
[kids chuckling] It doesn't
look like anything.
[Yanjaa] Oh, nice!
Nice looking little ball.
And a little poop
in the corner. [laughs]
The capital of Mongolia
is called...
[boy] Ola-bat...
[kids trying
to say Ulaanbaatar]
Memory is focus, and memory
is connecting the dots.
[Yanjaa] I don't think
that's a bat.
I think that's a worm
that's gonna be eaten by a bat.
A memory palace
is an augmented memory,
and a picture is also
an augmented memory because
when you see a picture,
like the rush
or like a flood of memories
comes back to you
and it's like,
"Oh, right! And that's when
we were in Greece,
and that's when you
stubbed your toe,
and you were so mad
because you didn't want
to take the picture, and..."
[bats squeaking]
[man] The memory palace
technique didn't remain
ancient history.
It was passed on
to early Christian monks,
who used it to remember
religious text and also
for meditation.
And by the Middle Ages,
all the major religious orders
were teaching it.
The Dominicans set up
complex memory systems
involving biblical
and mystic science.
As well as the zodiac.
[Johannes speaking German]
I sometimes combine
real and fantasy journeys.
The real journey might
end in my mother's garden
where it turns
into a fantasy story
that acts as a journey.
A UFO appears.
That's a journey point.
The journey is my tool.
I now add the information
I want to memorize.
The ace of spades,
for example, looks a bit
like a pine tree.
King of spades.
King of animals
might be a lion.
[lion roars]
[in English] At first,
I only created sexual images
and then
I was just like too much,
like, of the same thing,
and then I switched it out
and made everything about food
and then it was too much.
And then I realized like,
why am I doing this?
I can use stuff like food,
and sex and hugs
and I don't do violence though.
That didn't work well for me.
Cartoons, Mickey Mouse, uh...
some porn stars in there,
basketball players,
hockey players.
Okay, not that many porn...
porn stars.
I still think the most
important thing is,
because you're spending
so much time thinking
about fun stuff,
and not just memories
that were, like, kind of
happened to you,
you also feel a weird
sense of agency,
and independence.
[cat meows]
[indistinct chattering]
[Simon speaking German]
I've always wondered
how positive
and negative emotions,
and stress affect
the brain's capacity
to memorize.
[in English] In general,
memory is stored
all over the brain
but there are certain hubs,
very specific regions
that are the key players
in memory.
[door closes]
If something really
arouses our emotion,
if you're stressed,
if something
is maybe dangerous,
that is like sign of nature
-that, that might be
an important memory...
-[Simon] Mmm.
and that therefore that memory
has to be remembered
at a later point.
In the championship,
for example,
-that you encode
with a lot of emotions...
-[Simon] Yeah.'s that information
that sticks better.
During retrieval...
So when you have to
come up with a memory,
in that situation of stress,
you're stressed.
Then, that makes it
more difficult to really
remember that information.
But during a coding,
typically stress
or negative emotions
should make sure that
the information is coded
more strongly and deeply.
[Boris] Okay, please come here.
-Can you sit on here?
Uh, so there's one more thing,
this kind of gets really loud
once it's running,
-so you need
to wear ear buds.
Yeah, it's looking good,
I need your head
to come up here.
[Martin] The reason
the memory palace
technique works
is because it takes advantage
of how the brain works best.
The brain has evolved
to store memories
of visual images
and spatial locations.
This computer is now synced
with the monitor
which is in the scanner.
So it's a backup scanner,
basically display.
And we gave Simon a task.
So we asked him
that he tries
to memorize these words.
Of course while he does so,
the activity
in his brain changes.
That allows us to measure
where in the brain
oxygen-enriched blood
is going to
and so we can actually
make assumptions where in
the brain we have activity.
For the memory athletes,
they get very close
to perfect recall
in this kind of task.
Someone who
trains their memory
for just six weeks
might achieve something
like 60 out of 72 words.
And someone
who didn't train their memory,
say more like a 20.
[machine beeping]
So what we see here
is the brain
of a memory athlete,
and this tiny part here
on the right side of the brain,
of the hippocampus,
is enlarged in memory athletes
compared to control subjects.
That structure is involved
in stimulus response learnings.
So if you like go from, uh,
-location to location
in your route.
Um, and then you see
a given scene
or a given location,
and then you come up
with the information
you placed there.
-Ah, okay, okay.
-That is a structure where--
Very important
connection between,
that's exactly how.
You know from previous studies
that a particular...
this part that is, uh,
important for navigation,
can become larger
through training.
For example, in taxi drivers,
if they learn for years
and years how to navigate,
then that part
of the hippocampus
actually gets bigger.
What we learnt studying
memory athletes is that
their brains aren't different
structurally than
the rest of us.
Instead, what we see is that
they have a change connectivity
pattern in their brain.
Some brain regions
are more strongly connected,
others are more
weakly connected.
And what is fascinating
is that we found,
if you teach complete novices
the memory palace technique,
they not only perform better
on memory tests,
but they also change
their connectivity patterns
in their brains
in the same way as we see
with memory athletes.
[horn honking]
[indistinct chattering]
[Nelson] I've been climbing
ever since 2008.
I've always loved traveling
to the mountains,
and one year I said,
"You know what,
I'm gonna take a course
and learn how to mountaineer."
And ever since then
I've just wanted to climb
higher and higher,
and more, uh, dangerous peaks.
[bells jingling]
I've been up Kilimanjaro,
Mount Blanc, Denali,
bunch of peaks
in Peru as well, Ecuador.
We're in a cozy little
tent here.
-My awesome Sherpa, Tenzing.
-Tenzing is our friend.
My friend, in one of the film,
he memorized a deck of cards.
So I did it, and we had
a good time.
I was explaining to the Sherpa
how I did it,
and what were
some of the images
in my memory palace,
my journey.
-Okay, so for every card...
-[Tenzing] Mmm-hmm.
...I give it a picture.
Imagine, uh...
king of hearts is you.
[Tenzing chuckles]
Okay, so whenever you see
the king of hearts,
it's Tenzing.
-You picture Tenzing,
climbing a mountain.
-Queen of hearts,
is your mother.
-'Cause of the hearts, queen.
-Yeah, yeah.
So when you see queen
of hearts, you think
of your mom.
Maybe she cooks
really good dal bhat.
Yeah? So, you picture her
doing that.
-I make a story.
-Yeah, yeah.
Ah, it's Tenzing,
-maybe he is having dinner
with his mother...
-Mother, yeah.
...and then Taki comes in,
barging through the door
with Nelson on his back.
The Sherpas love to play cards
for money, so.
I wonder if he used that
for his benefit
when he got back down.
I practice every day.
The first time,
took me 30 minutes.
Then I get faster
and now I did it in minutes...
-Yes. know.
[Nelson] I brought
a lot of brain testing
equipment with me,
given to me
by this research group
at Washington University.
Like the strip test, you know
where you have to match
yellow, green,
and you have to say
what the actual color is,
not what the word says.
Problem solving skills,
also memory things.
I was doing that at all
the elevations as well.
At the time,
I had never broken
40 seconds on a deck of cards,
and on that trip I got into
the 30 seconds.
So I was actually getting
faster as I went higher.
Which seems incredibly
You think "less oxygen,
worse performance
for the brain,"
but for some reason
these techniques
are strong as hell
and are really sticky.
I think memory is one of
the things that we have
to understand, um, better
on a scientific level but also
in a real-life applicable way.
This is part of the messaging
that I try to spread
after my grandmother passed.
Now I climb mountains
to raise money for Alzheimer's.
[Johannes speaking German]
FSHD is a form
of muscular dystrophy
that affects
the skeletal muscles.
The muscles are getting
progressively weaker.
They transform
into connective tissue
and eventually become useless.
My diagnosis began
at 14, in gym class,
and we had to run laps
around the sports ground.
While running fast,
my leg would
suddenly give way.
I was in hospital
seven times in two years.
[chattering indistinctly]
I eventually
got my DNA results
from the laboratory.
[speaks indistinctly]
And then, I was left
to deal with the illness.
You can live
quite well with it,
and life expectancy
is not actually reduced
since the internal organs
are not affected.
[speaks indistinctly]
Over time,
walking and climbing stairs
became ever more difficult.
I kept falling over.
[speaking German]
So my options were either stay
at home and do nothing...
[speaks German]
or use a wheelchair.
People look at me
differently now.
Not just like, "Look at him
walking weirdly."
But, "Ah, look,
he's a wheelchair user."
[man speaks German]
I still remember
what it was like to walk.
It's really not that long ago.
[equipment rattling]
I have always
really enjoyed competing.
Playing table tennis,
taking part in tournaments.
And I always wanted to win.
Memory sport was cool
because I realized
I could compete again.
I can travel and keep up
with everybody else.
[Nelson in English]
When I look up to someone
who's not got the greatest
cards dealt to him,
um, that's the guy,
and I love that he just wants
to do everything for himself.
[birds squawking]
[Nelson] I love going through
those memory palaces,
those journeys
just because
it's like reliving it.
They're almost like
a little VR bubble,
and I can just jump into it,
and there's my childhood home.
And same with these climbs.
I've been up
the same mountain many times
and sometimes you
go back hoping
for that same experience,
but it's never the same.
But with these memory palaces,
I've kind of preserved those
within the journey,
which is, uh...
It's really special to me.
About four or five years ago,
I started teaching
memory techniques,
bringing them to big companies,
and teaching individuals.
Try to think of something
you do that doesn't
involve memory
and I guarantee you, you can't.
Um, it's everywhere.
I'm always getting emails
every day
for a different thing.
Post office worker
who needs to help
remember zip codes,
or a salesman who need
to remember facts and figures.
If you're saying that memory
will not improve your life,
you're kidding yourself.
What's up, everyone?
My name's Nelson Dellis,
and in today's episode
I'm gonna teach you
how to memorize
language vocabulary.
Names and faces.
All right, so one of the things
I wanted to ask you was,
for the everyday person,
for practical application,
what have you found, for you,
has been the most useful
in terms of memory techniques
or tips?
The main question I get is,
how to use memory techniques
for school,
-you know, for studying.
-[Nelson] Yeah.
Um, so I mean, I think that...
I'll just kind of list
the first few things
that kind of come
to the top of my mind.
So the first one is obviously
just to try to...
You know when you're having
trouble remembering something,
try to turn it into a picture.
I think a really easy way
to do that is to practice
with people's names.
Karen becomes a carrot
or Tom becomes
like a Tommy gun
or you know, it's just
something like that.
Subscribe, like, share
all the things.
I'll see you very shortly.
Thanks, guys. Peace.
That's it.
[speaking German]
There is no need
to discard
your natural memory,
and to try and connect
all you need to know
to places.
Instead, you have to know your
strengths and weaknesses,
presentations, meetings,
issues I want to address
without looking at notes.
[in English]
School could be easier,
life could be easier,
human interaction
could be easier,
so many things could be easier
with the help of memory.
And I do enjoy competing just
for the sake of competing,
I'm not gonna lie. I just...
I actually like being
in the zone,
I actually like performing well
or getting a personal best.
[Simon speaking German]
I think I'm definitely
a competitive person.
The German word
for "ambitious"
suggests you're rather
grim and stubborn.
I'm actually
not overly ambitious,
I just enjoy participating
in tournaments.
[woman speaks indistinctly]
[Nelson in English]
I hate losing.
I hate it when people
are better than me.
I'm happy for people
and I love seeing
people succeed,
but I hate it when
they do something
that I can't.
[Johannes speaking German]
Every championship
is about records and titles.
You want to make sure you win,
beating the other guy,
because you want
to be the best.
[audience applauding]
That was the most money
I ever won in a competition.
Quite often there is
no prize money.
In 2012, for the world title,
no money at all.
[Yanjaa in English]
If I haven't been
competing for a while,
I start competing about
the dumbest things like,
"Who did the most dishes?
Who picked up most laundry?"
[Nelson] When you realize that
you've forgotten something,
even though you're fairly
confident you had it,
that, just like,
deep gut of your stomach
and that's just the worst
feeling in the world.
[Johannes speaking German]
I am more likely
to forget something
when I am nervous or stressed.
[in English] I don't care
about being pretty
or smart or kind.
Like, I just really
want to win.
The first
World Memory Championship
and this is, I think
it's so like...
a metaphor, like an analogy
for the rest of the world is
the first World Memory
Championship with seven dudes
who were bored
having tea in a tea salon
in London,
who said, "Oh, let's have
a memory competition"
and they just like made up
the rules on the spot
and then whoever won out of
those seven dudes
was the "World
Memory Champion,"
according to them.
[interviewer] Why has Memory
remained such a male sport?
It's an interesting thing
because it's...
Like you said,
the world is 50/50 roughly
women and men.
Um, it's not 50/50
at these competitions.
[inhales] Yeah, no.
I don't know,
I don't know what to say.
I'm just, like...
Every time I talk about
the female aspect of this,
I could just get into
like super Swedish
feminist mode,
and it's not very fun
for anyone involved,
including me.
Like one girl, for example,
she was crying because
some of the memory athletes
said they wanted to make
a Miss Memory,
meaning like...
[sighs] a memory competition
but on the side we have,
who's the prettiest.
But just for the women,
and she was crying because
she was like,
"I know I'm not gonna make
the top ten."
And I said,
"This doesn't matter.
We're supposed to be competing
about memory, not beauty.
This is the one area
where it just matters
if we are good or not,
not if we are pretty."
[speaking German]
It's difficult for me to speak
on behalf
of female competitors.
All I can say is that
memory sports in essence
is quite collegial in nature.
[in English] It's frustrating.
All of these stupid notions
of what men versus women
are capable of
get brought up all
the time, but...
I think it's worth it if more
women start competing,
and more women try to push
themselves a little more
than society asks of them.
[speaking Mongolian]
I hear there are other
talents in your family.
Your grandpa
had a good memory.
Do you think memory
might be genetic?
[Yanjaa] No, I think
it's more to do
with Mongolia's tradition
of oral storytelling
and conveying news
over long distances.
[in English]
So, those drawings,
the calligraphy art,
they've drawn the word,
and then drawn the image
of the word around it.
So if you see over there,
there's a...
There's a dog and a rooster
and the other rooster.
So it's written...
The old Mongolian
script says "Rooster"
and then he's actually drawn
an entire piece.
So old Mongolian
was way more...
I would say,
way more image based.
And now because
of the whole social
we've stayed with the
more vocal or sound based.
Cyrillic alphabet.
I know that this is harder,
but I think it's more
worthwhile to keep tradition.
So, yeah.
I think that those foundational
moments of learning
the Mongolian alphabet
or learning English
in Mongolia and stuff
with kind of subconscious
memory techniques,
I think that helped.
[traffic sounds]
[woman laughing]
[speaking in Mongolian]
The more we train our memory,
the more our mind
develops as a whole.
It becomes sharper.
Our imagination
and creativity are enhanced.
[whispers in English]
Half of them are newcomers,
new competitors.
They are participating
Asian Memory
Championship first time.
Their first
international competition.
Also, most of them are
from different provinces
of Mongolia.
They are now
Mongolian Memory Team, yeah.
[student coughing]
[Yanjaa] The Mongolian
Memory Team has a strong
sense of community.
They all compete together,
they all train together,
they all are really
close friends.
And the guy who runs
the Mongolian Memory
Sports Council
is like a total
celebrity there
[laughs] like...
I think he might be a mayor
of some county or
something right now.
He makes a lot of money,
he can put that money back
into his students.
You have Mongolian people
going on the news,
talking about how well
they did in Memory,
that helps his school
and then people join
his school,
and then the best of the best
start competing.
[speaking in Mongolian]
-Thank you very much.
-I wish you the best of luck.
-Thank you.
A round of welcome applause.
[speaking Mongolian]
I first heard of Yanjaa
when she was competing
in the 2014
world championship.
At the time,
she was competing for Sweden
against the Mongolian team.
Our Mongolian team came
second out of 26 teams
in the competition.
Sweden won.
There was only
about 200 points
between the teams.
And this was mainly
down to Yanjaa.
We lost. but still felt
very proud of her.
[Yanjaa in English]
I think it's more glamorous
on TV and in films
to be a global citizen,
but then when you actually are,
you just see the differences
in how people live
and it can either be
a good thing or a bad thing
depending on how you feel.
[speaking Mongolian]
-Come on. Let's play catch.
-[boy yells]
[Yanjaa in English]
Mongolia is probably
the most beautiful place
on Earth,
with the most beautiful people
in it, and I feel very loved
when I'm there,
and I feel very understood
even though people can tell
that I have like the mannerisms
of a westerner... [sniffles]
and that I think from like
a very western perspective
on things
and my jokes
are very American.span style="bodyStyle" [laughs]
Sweden is probably
the best country
in the world.
Free healthcare, free school,
even getting paid to go
to school and all
those other things.
You can talk to someone
without being worried
they're hitting on you.
I love Amazon Prime.
-[laughing] It's like
the best thing ever.
-[interviewer laughing]
It's like, I see a book, I want
the book, I get it
within two days, yeah.
Probably, I'd stay in Sweden
if Amazon Prime existed
in Sweden. [laughs]
[Nelson] So at the World
Memory Championships,
there are ten disciplines,
and it's...
Let's see if I can get them.
Five-minute numbers,
speed cards...
one-hour numbers...
one-hour cards.
[speaking in German]
Names and faces.
[in English] Uh, random words.
And binary digits.
[Nelson] Abstract images,
which we've kind of
changed recently
to just random pictures.
Uh, historic dates,
which is the one
I always forget.
And I'm missing one.
[speaking German]
[in English]
Oh yeah, spoken numbers.
[speaking German]
I am trying to practice
the long disciplines
at least twice
and focus in particular
on the spoken numbers.
That's the second
to last discipline,
and if you get
a good score there
you can still make up
a lot of places.
You absolutely have to get
every single digit right,
no mistakes.
[speaking Mongolian]
It turned out so well!
I never owned such
a beautiful thing before.
[all laughing]
[in English] I mean, obviously,
I have high hopes,
but it goes the way it goes.
[traffic sounds]
[gong tolls]
[women singing]
[audience applauding]
[indistinct chatter]
[intense music playing
on speakers]
[automated voice speaking]
Welcome to World
Memory Championship.
All round, my goal is top ten.
I mean, there's, I think,
eight of the top ten people
in the world here,
so if I can squeeze
in somewhere there,
I'll be very happy.
[instrumental music playing]
[announcer] Stop memorizations.
Arbiter, please collect
the paper, please.
[man] Did you have any varied
memorable combinations
in this discipline?
Oh, yeah, I had Obi-Wan Kenobi
playing the bass guitar
with his balls.
That was a good one.
[indistinct chatter]
[man] The world record
for name and faces
was 200 before, right?
And Yanjaa got 212.
-So I have it?
-Yes, congratulations.
Yay. Give me a hug. Here.
-You beat, like, Katie
with 12 points.
-Yes. Yes.
It's awesome.
[Yanjaa] I don't know.
It's weird.
Sometimes you're just
in the zone, and sometimes
you're not,
but this time I think I was,
so, good. Feels good.
And the overall score,
the top three was,
Enkhshur from, uh, Mongolia
on the third place with 25-77,
and Munkhshur with 26-22,
and Alex Mullen with 26-74.
It was fine. I mean,
I could have been worse,
so I don't feel
too bad about it.
Um, yeah, hopefully
it just kinda gets...
builds from here.
[speaking Mongolian]
Wow, Yanjaa got 212 images.
[announcer in English]
And in number four
we have Yanjaa,
with like 22-17.
Simon and Johannes,
they're at seven and eight.
But, like, I think Simon will
come back, 'cause he has pretty
good result in the, uh...
in his history
for the speed number I think.
And also Johannes
did really good at dates.
[speaking German]
Not as much as I had hoped for
but I think I am doing okay.
I am quite pleased.
Nelson, let me see.
He's currently on the 19th
with 12 down 108 points.
So what're you doing tomorrow?
Uh, I'm gonna do
some Christmas shopping.
All right, I gotta get ready,
we're starting soon.
-All right, good luck.
I love you.
-Thank you.
For me, it's been not the best
of my competitions but, um,
I, I'm not surprised by, um,
my performance. I mean,
I didn't prepare as much
as I should have,
so I think considering that,
I'm probably doing okay.
You know, I always
have expectations
and in some events
and some parts,
I usually meet them
or exceed them,
but, overall, I always kinda
walk away disappointed
at the world championships,
that is.
And this time, I'm feeling
that a lot just because, um,
I know I could have
trained harder,
and I know I could have done
a lot better.
Um, I want to do better.
But I always have
to wrestle with
what it's worth, right?
In terms of my career
and real life.
'Cause when I started,
it was just pure passion,
And I had other
things going on,
this was just something
I did, 'cause I loved it
and did nothing else.
So I would just do it,
show up to competition,
I would win
and then that was...
that was great.
But then now,
it's like as you get older
I've quit everything
to do a full-time career
in Memory.
Four-time champion in anything
sounds like you know what
the hell you're talking about.
Um, so I'm sure that
supports me going out
and being like,
"Hey, would you like
to hire me and have me
speak to your employees,
'cause I'm a four time
US Memory champion,
memory expert."
Winning the World Championships
wouldn't necessarily kind of
amplify my business,
and so it makes it tough
to decide
do I spend time actually
working on my business
or, um, training,
which is something I love,
but the rewards don't
necessarily feed each other.
[people chattering]
But the last day,
I like the last day.
Last day is kind of
a little more lighthearted
and more of the disciplines
that I enjoy.
[camera shutter clicking]
[speaking German]
We'll see
what I can do on the last day.
Maybe I can make it into
the top five.
Simon is clearly ahead of me.
A lot needs to happen in the
spoken numbers event.
When we reach
the last three seconds,
there will be no
"ready, go." No.
It will be like,
they'll press at the, like...
When the last few seconds,
they'll press,
so you'll hear
the "A", "B", "C",
and then you
have to start memorizing
the number, okay?
[automated voice speaking]
A, B, C.
Six, six, zero, two,
four, five, eight, zero, one,
nine, zero,
four, four, one, six,
two, zero,
nine, three, nine, nine, two...
Four, one, three,
three, five...
Five, zero, nine, eight,
three, eight...
[people chattering]
[man] Okay, got the top ten.
So, right now,
based on the top ten,
we have Alex Mullen,
with 8,851 points.
-[all applauding]
-Next one, we have Munkhshur
with 7,970 points.
Enkhshur, number three,
with 7,310 points.
Followed by Yanjaa,
who has 7,276 points.
Followed by Johannes Mallow,
6,830 points.
[audience applauding]
Simon Reinhard
with 6,605 points.
[audience applauding]
Okay, so, we have
about one minute.
Mental preparation
time starts now.
Ready, go.
[man] You have five minutes
to reconstruct the deck
in the right order.
Ten seconds.
Arbiters, please compare
the memorization decks now.
Yeah, but this
is my score. Zero.
[announcer] New speed card
world record by Alex Mullen.
[people cheering]
[Alex] If you asked me
two years ago
what I thought my limit was,
I would have said, you know,
something not too far
from where I was then
and now I'm, you know,
almost twice as fast
as I was at that point
so you know, the limit
kind of keeps getting pushed,
uh, past what you know,
you think is possible
at that time.
So, I try to just not think
about the limits any more
and just sort of keep trying
to improve.
[man] Awarded second runner-up.
[woman] Goes to
Yanjaa Wintersoul
from Mongolia.
With total 7,429.
The first runner-up goes
to Munkhshur Narmandakh
from Mongolia.
[audience applauding]
The winner
of World Memory Championship,
Alex Mullen from USA!
[audience cheering
and applauding]
This one... it's just glass.
I'm thinking I'll drill a hole
in it and use it as a flask,
but I don't know yet.
[speaking German]
We really didn't
see that coming.
She probably had a better idea
from her training results.
It was a complete surprise.
Totally unexpected.
Congratulations to her.
Amazing result.
It should be motivating for us
that you can still improve
if you put in the effort.
I don't know how I feel about
being better than the Germans
and Nelson, it's just like,
Although, I'm very happy
that they respect me
as a competitor,
not just as
a human being now, so...
That means something.
[woman] One, two, three.
Say cheese!
[all] Cheese!
-I gotta head to the airport.
-Ah, you're going already.
I want people to think
about health as something
that is both
your body and your mind.
Um, I don't think that crosses
people's thoughts these days,
and I want to change that.
By keeping both physically
and mentally active,
we can help preserve
our brains and our memory.
[speaking German]
For the able bodied,
a wheelchair seems restrictive.
The opposite was true for me.
Overall, I am content
and happy with my life.
And the illness
is somehow part of it.
[speaking German]
I find it fascinating
that the brain manages
to translate our impressions
and our lives,
images and emotions
into electric impulses
and triggers.
Not only to gather them,
but to hold on to them.
For me, that's one of
the world's greatest miracles.
[Yanjaa] Okay, so, like,
on a neuroscience level,
it's probably just like
imprints in your head
and brain area.
Philosophical level,
memories make us.
I mean, it's everything,
isn't it?
[children chattering]
My best memory trick,
we're at a dinner table
with ten of our friends
on someone's birthday,
and the cheque came,
and one of my friends was like,
to the waiter,
"This guy can memorize
all the credit card numbers
and if he can do that,
you should give us
the bill for free."
Four, one, four, seven, one,
eight, zero, one...
So, there I was, ten times
16-digit credit card numbers,
so 160 digits. He gave me
five minutes. It was a joke.
And of course, I got it.
[people screaming]
Do we get the meal for free?
He was like, "Uh, yeah.
I can take off one
of your meals."
But anyways, we ended up doing
that same process
at multiple restaurants.
That was like the thing
we did that summer.