Ezequiel Valenzuela is the 2018 Canadian Memory Champion
The 2018 Canadian Memory Championship
Interviews with Jim Gerwing, GMM Johnny Briones and Ezequiel Valenzuela:
Jim Gerwing Bronze Medal Winner:
CMC – Congratulation Jim, on winning your Bronze Medal at 2018 Canadian Memory Championship.
Jim Gerwing – Thank you, Simon. And thank you for organizing this event for seven years running, not to mention the provincial comps as well. By organizing the National level, it keeps you out of the competition wherein I probably would have finished behind you and out of the medals. So, again, thank you. And thank your volunteer helpers. And thank the Trireme Academy, the host of this event.
CMC – Jim, your scores went up dramatically in one Memory Discipline: you had a 35% improvement this year at Speed Numbers. Only 4 other Canadians besides you are now on record with scores beyond 100 digits at Speed Numbers. Were you performing below your capacity in previous competitions?
Jim Gerwing – My second attempt on numbers was on par with my current abilities as was my second attempt at cards.
CMC – Did you expect you would win a medal coming here?
Jim Gerwing – Based on the field, I thought third place was a reasonable expectation, and anything can happen in a competition. In my first two disciplines Names and Words, I seriously underperformed which put me in a bad spot for medalling.
CMC – Did you get the kind of scores you were expecting and wanted?
Jim Gerwing – . The results I got put me in a tie for third which is broken by the score in Cards. When you look at the Millennial points, it wasn’t so close and I am improving.
CMC – Have you been modifying your memory techniques recently?
Yes, recently, since the last competition, I have been trying to combine two cards at one loci and I’m encouraged. Maybe by March [Alberta provincial memory championship date], I’ll be able to put up a better score because, as you know, the card times are getting lower.
How did you get into memory sports?
A long time ago, late 1960’s?!, ESSO was giving away abridged books when you filled up with gas. I was bored in the back seat of my Dad’s station wagon with nothing else to do so I picked up one of these books. It was ’10 Days to a Better Memory’ by Joyce Brothers. Most of the basic memory hacks are in there. I used them in school every once in a while. Then there was a Reader’s digest article that explained memory palaces. So I tucked that away until college. Later, I read Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. This awakened a desire to take an online course in memory. Do you know of The Magnetic Memory Method of Anthony Metivier?
CMC – Yes, Anthony Metivier is an author, possibly Canadian, very active in memory circles.
Jim Gerwing – He explained one method for memorizing a shuffled deck of cards which I learned and got to a point where I could memorize and recall a deck in 5 minutes. Anthony suggested that one good way to challenge one’s abilities was to compete. Your organization was offering challenge type provincial competitions so I decided to give that a try and won. The 2016 Montreal Canadian Memory Championships was by far the craziest memory adventure that I have embarked on.
CMC – What advice would you give to someone who is new to memory sports, someone who wants to try it?
Jim Gerwing – To anyone wanting to try out memory competition type memory I would recommend committing to entering the next available memory competition. Then design and memorize three memory palaces long enough to contain one deck of cards. Start with cards and name them. Begin by trying to memorize the order of 10 cards or so. Check for accuracy and try again. It does take some perseverance. My first full deck took about 1/2 an hour to recall and it wasn’t perfectly recalled. But I could see the potential. Practice, practice, practice. See you at the next CMC.
CMC – So you recommend beginners start with memorizing cards?
Jim Gerwing – If someone has intentions of competing in memory sports, then cards is the place to start. Further to the point of getting into memory pursuits. There are lots of options online or check out your local library or Meetups. . . There is a lot of evidence to show that learning from someone who already has a given skill will shorten your learning times.
CMC – Thank you very much Jim for these tips and thanks for sharing with us about your involvement in the Canadian Memory Championships.
Jim Gerwing – Thanks for the interview.
Johnny Briones winner of the 2018 Open Canadian Memory Championship.
CMC – Congratulations Johnny on winning the Open Canadian Memory Championship. I hope you can put that up on your website as another one of your accomplishments.
Johnny Briones – Oh you are too kind! Thank you! I plan on it!
CMC – Thanks for coming.
Johnny Briones – Thank you for hosting it.
CMC – Did you find it an easy victory? Were you concerned when you learned Livan Grijalva was ahead of you by one point after Names and Faces, the first memory discipline?
Johnny Briones – I didn’t think it was going to be an easy victory. I thought Livan and I would both win two. For sure, I thought I would get names but when he won it, I got worried. So I had to recollect myself to focus on the next events.
CMC – The black and white colors seem to have bothered you a bit. Maybe Livan found a way to adjust better to this. Had you trained with black and white photos before?
Johnny Briones – Haha yeah they did bother me because I like to use the different colors to help me attach the names. Livan said he went for the simple names. I just tried to do all the names in order. I never trained black and white photos. I didn’t even know that was a thing!!
CMC – Ok, on to Words, do you use the story method for this one or a journey. If you use a journey, how many words per stop do you put?
Johnny Briones – I do two words per location. This allows to me to trigger the other word if I forget it and allows the stories I create to be more dynamic.
CMC – How many revisions do you do after memorizing it? Some memory athletes start off by just reading all the words they plan to memorize very quickly. That isn’t your approach?
Johnny Briones – The amount of revisions depends on how many words I go for. I spend 5 minutes memorizing the words I want then spend the rest of the time to review because I want to make sure I get the spelling right.
CMC – So you say, that in 5 minutes, all your words are imagined in stories at their location and so, in the next 10 minutes, you just review the spelling of the words. Hum. Some of the spelling of some words you must know already and so that extra 10 minutes you use goes mostly to a dozen words only?
Johnny Briones – That is true but I also spend time making sure I picture the images in the order the words appear because if you mess that up, you lose the whole column!
CMC – Did you do the number of words you were planning to do?
Johnny Briones – I wanted 154 but got 153 haha.
CMC – Are there people on your journey stops to interact with the words?
Johnny Briones – No people or anything like that.
CMC – 153 words is about 30 words more than the best we ever had here, although Tracy Miller also beat the record, with 130 Words.
Johnny Briones – Oh wow. I didn’t know that. I was thinking about going for 200 but played it safe.
CMC – You missed measles by writing it as measels. Did you expect you might get that one wrong?
Johnny Briones – Haha yes! I don’t know why I was thrown off. It was probably because of the words like tisane.
CMC – Okay, now here comes Numbers. Your 210 is alo a new record although Ezequiel also managed to get ahead of you there. The previous Canadian Record was around 180 digits. What system did you use PAO or Major?
Johnny Briones – I used a PAO for numbers and I was confident on my first attempt that I got all of them right.
CMC – You used a 100 persons , 100 actions, 100 objects system?
Johnny Briones – Yes that is the system I use for numbers.
CMC – Ok, finally, Speed cards. This is where Livan was sure capable of finishing ahead of you. You started off, by going a bit slow to get a sure deck, isn’t that right?
Johnny Briones – Haha oh boy. For cards, I thought I would have to go slow and get a deck for sure before I went faster because I was worried about Livan. I got the deck right but for the second attempt, I couldn’t feel the speed. I am unsure why.
CMC – Did you use PAO also for cards?
Johnny Briones – Yes, I also use a PAO for cards. It’s pretty much my number system.
CMC – Many people found it a bit hot in the room, maybe that didn’t bother you at all because you are used to it and you keep yourself in top physical condition?
Johnny Briones – The heat actually may have played a factor in me not going fast for the last card attempt. Being comfortable is what I need for going for max score. Being in shape helps and I wasn’t too bothered by the heat. In Colorado, it gets really hot so I am use to the heat for the most part.
CMC – Overall, how did you find the competition?
Overall, it was amazing to win because I had the dream of being a champion for 7 years and it came true at this competition!
CMC – You mean, you have never won a national championship before?
Johnny Briones – Nope. I got second place one time but that is it.
CMC – Thanks for talking with us, Johnny and best of luck for many more championship wins.
The CMC interview Ezequiel Valenzuela, winner of the 2018 Canadian Memory Championship.
Sept. 1/2018 CMC –Congratulations Ezequiel on winning the 2018 Canadian Memory Championship.
CMC — So, you are 17 years old. When did you start having an interest in memory techniques? How did you learn about memory techniques?
EV — About 2 years ago, we had a substitute teacher come to our class. He talked to us about memory techniques, and I did’t pay too much attention but I was still impressed when I found he had memorized all of our names. But it is my friend, A. McAdams, a classmate who really got me interested in it. He showed more interest in it than I did at first. And then I could see he didn’t spend much time studying anymore and still got good grades, and he began to think about becoming a memory champion; I thought I could become that as well.
CMC– So you started training with memory techniques about 2 years ago?
EV– Yes, but I would train my memory only 10 minutes a week for the first 6 months; it didn’t help much. I really started to train 1 hour to 1 1/2 hour per day just one and a half years ago.
CMC– What happened then? What made you suddenly increase your training regimen?
EV– Well, at first all I had to work with was my friend’s book, “Moonwalking with Einstein.” But 1 1/2 year ago, I got a new book, by Dominic O’Brien, “You Can Have An Amazing Memory.” I was inspired by that book as I was not a strong student just like the author Dominic and I could relate to him.
CMC– When you started applying yourself more to memory techniques, did you start noticing a difference in the amount of time you spent studying for school?
EV — Yes, it wasn’t long before I started studying no more than 5-10 minutes before any class and get an 80% when others would study maybe an hour for the same test to get the same results.
CMC– So you were spending time on memory techniques and that saved you time?
EV — Yes, even during class it made a difference: Once I was just listening to the teacher, making mental notes while still appearing bored and distracted while the other students were all taking written notes. The teacher noticed that and started saying things. So, without looking at the board, I started recalling point by point the whole lesson back to him. He was stunned.
CMC. What about your grades. Did they improve?
EV —I was failing in History. My percentage was like 40% for the year. But then the end of year exam could replace your mark for the whole year if it was better. I passed easily with over 80% mark.
CMC– Was that test easy?
EV — No, it was hard.
CMC– When did you start thinking you might be able to win the Canadian Memory Championship?
EV– Before the 2017 Canadian Memory Championship, I was already confident I was going to win. I told so to my good friends. I went and my results were a total disaster. My friends laughed. Still, I decided to continue training anyway.
CMC — What kind of memory systems do you use?
EV — I use the Major System for numbers, and used a 3 digit system today to set the new Canadian Memory Championship Record at Numbers.
And I established the new Speed Cards Record for the Canadian Memory Championships today using a 2 cards per image block system invented by Lance Tschirhart.
Words are my favorite Memory Discipline even though I am not very good at it.
CMC — What are your daily memory habits?
EV — I wake up every day at 4:30 am. Then I do 10 minutes of meditation.
CMC — What kind of meditation do you do?
EV — Well, we can skip that if you prefer.
CMC — No, this is very interesting. Do you use beads to meditate or a meditative song?
EV — No, I just focus on my breathing and try not to think about anything. Then, I head downstairs to the computer and spend an average of 1 to 3 hours a day training my memory every weekday, a bit more during the weekends. And this is not something I feel is imposed on me, it is something I want to do. If I go 3 days without doing it, I won’t feel good about it as if I am out of shape.
CMC– So, your self-esteem is sort of tied to you being in top mental shape?
EV– Yea, and I am vegan too, you can mention that. And I jog 3 times per week.
CMC — How did you find the competition today?
EV– I was nervous. I found the event stressful. It never gets easy. I found my main opponent, Eric Li menacing.
CMC — Can I write that down too?
EV — Yes. I honestly don’t like memory competitions. I much prefer memory training at home. Competitions are too stressful, they’re a bit like school but now I am in College and I find it much more interesting. I much prefer memory training at home to memory competitions.
CMC — Ah! Your mom as just arrived to pick you up, you have to go, thanks for this interview.
EV– We can continue this online. Bie now.
Sept. 2/2018 –-Ezequiel Valenzuela, 17 years old, is the new 2018 Canadian Memory Champion. He led the pack after the first Memory Discipline and never looked back. He set 2 new Canadian Memory Records: One in Random Numbers (222) and the other at Speed Cards (56 sec.)
In second place came Eric Li, who also managed to finish first in Random Words.
In third place yesterday was Jim Gerwing, the Alberta Memory Champion, who won a tie braker with Jing Shi.
In the Junior Section, Joshua Parungao succeeded in edging one opponent to become the new Canadian Junior Memory Champion. (Ezequiel had requested to participate in the Adult Section)
In the Kid Section, Max Feng memorized 17 digits to take the title of 2018 Canadian Kid Memory Champion of Canada.
In the Open Section, Grand Master of Memory Johnny Briones won first place and set a new Canadian Open Section record at Random Words, memorizing 153 Words in 15 minutes.
In the end, we had a fun Mental Math Challenge, an addition, and Ten Wang finished first.
Congratulations to all the winners.
The 15 participants in one location that we had on Sept. 1 was also a record for us. Memory Sports are gaining in popularity.
A big thank you for this event must go to The Trireme Academy and especially Allan Hernandez and his team for the venue, a gym, which really helped to help spread the idea that memory is something you can train and get better at just like any other sport discipline.
Also deserving a big thank is the board of the Canadian Memory Championships made up of dedicated volunteers and other volunteers who calculated the scores, brought refreshments, prepared Rewards, etc. Thanks John Tuyen, Sanja Vukosavljevic, Simon Luisi and Yang Tjew.
Thanks also to all the participants wzho helped make of this event the success that it was.
The 2018 medals and trophy for September 1
$50 First prize winner for the new Canadian Memory Champion. Books to be given away as well as other prizes.
Two copies of each of these books will be awarded as prizes.
Grand Master of Memory Johnny Briones has informed us of his intention to compete in the Open Section. This will be the first time an American Grand Master of Memory competes in a memory competition in Canada.
Mike Rodin edges the others to earn himself the 2018 Ontario Memory Champion Title
Toronto- June 30, 2018- On his way to Hamilton to see a show by Shania Twain, Mike Rodin stopped at the Toronto Reference Library to demonstrate his skill at memorizing playing cards. With a perfectly memorized deck of cards in 3 min. 23 sec., he finished ahead of his two rivals, Dilyan Maleshkov who managed to memorize 14 cards and Bo Cheng with 8 cards.
Also at the competition was the Junior Canadian Memory Champion, Sami Rasheed who memorized 22 cards to take 2018 Ontario Junior Memory Champion Title unopposed.
Congratulations to the winners and all the participants. Also a big thank you to CBC Radio Reporter Jess Shane for covering the event and interviewing the contestants.
The scores above reflect the best ever results achieved by Canadian Competitors at a Canadian Memory Championship. For more details on how we calculated these points please check this link 2018 Millennium-points-of-the-Canadian-Memory-Championships.
The scores below reflect the best ever results achieved in the Open Section of the Canadian Memory Championships. The points were calculated using the 2018 Millennium-points-of-the-Canadian-Memory-Championships.
David Russell sets a new benchmark to earn the 2018 Manitoba Memory Champion Title.
Winnipeg, Manitoba— David Russell doubled his previous memory Manitoba memory record by memorizing 42 cards in 5 minutes on Wednesday. This year, he had an extra motivation as he had a challenger: Paul Lewis. Congratulation to all the participants and a big thank you to the arbiters who make this event possible: Brendan Lobay and Dustin Funk.
Jim Gerwing dominates in Alberta with his third Alberta Memory Champion Title.
Left to right, Char, Jim, Kevin, Lily and Terry
March 31,2018–Alberta– Jim Gerwing, photographed above, wins the 2018 Alberta Memory Champion Title with a time of 3 min. 22 sec. to memorize perfectly a full deck of shuffled cards. Congratulations! Kevin was the runner up.
A group of kids also disputed the title of 2018 Alberta Kid Memory Champion and Mackenzie Michalczuk won that event by memorizing the whole deck in 4 min. 38 sec., setting a new Kid Provincial Record in Alberta. Congratulations to her and all the other participants, Sophia Rivard, Haylie Broad, Emma Vicente.
Thanks to all the volunteer arbiters who have made this competition successful, Char, Lily, Terry, Darren.
Braden Adams wins his 3rd British Columbia Memory Championship
Chiliwack, BC- On February 17, 2018, Braden Adams achieved what no one else in Canada has ever done: he became the first person to hold a provincial memory title for 3 years in a row. Congratulations!! Braden memorized perfectly a deck of 52 shuffled cards in 1 minute 58 seconds, equalling his own Provincial Memory Record for BC which he had set last year. Thanks to his arbiters, Ryan, Pat and Arthur for monitoring his attempt and thanks to all those who came to the Library to show their support.
First Ever Nova Scotia Memory Champion!
Nov. 7 , 2017 -Halifax We are proud to announce our new 2017 Nova Scotia Memory Champion: Jazzlyn Braddock. She’s the first woman to win such a title in Canada since they started in 2014. She won by default but still planned an Oct.29/ 2017 Speed Cards memorization attempt to set a benchmark for Nova Scotia. Due to circumstances beyond her control she was not able to complete her memorization attempt but we may allow her to settle this score at a later date.
If you’d like to support our 2017 Nova Scotia Memory Champion, she currently has a trending gofundme page for her sick dog.
Free Memory Tutorial Meetings
In preparation for the 2019 Canadian Memory Championship, we are organizing free memory tutorial club meetings, led by a memory technique expert. This is now a monthly meeting on Saturdays, in a downtown Toronto Library to help people improve their memories. Space is limited. Reserve your seat at [email protected] for the Toronto meetings.