How I'll kill it in 2014

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#1 24 March, 2014 - 05:58
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How I'll kill it in 2014


Indulge me if you will, as I indulge myself. :)

I have a new goal for 2014. I don't want a goal to be based purely on end of the year performance because that's difficult to predict and to hold myself accountable for. Instead, I have a goal that is an ongoing behavior, so I can ensure that it gets done, and eliminate the possibility of providing myself excuses if it doesn't.

The end game is to be good enough to have confidence that my combined scores will put me in the top 16 in the world at the 2014 WMC. Doing so would get me a paid vacation to San Diego for the XMT in 2015, if there is one. If I don't have a fairly high degree of confidence that I can achieve this goal, I won't consider the expenditure of a trip to China warranted in 2014. I don't mean to sound elitist, and I hold this opinion for myself ONLY, on account of the following plan.

I calculated the monthly improvement needed for my scores in the 10 WMC events to get to a score 800 in each event, at a minimum, and a little higher for those couple events that I'm already pretty good at, which basically means speed cards and speed digits. For those of you who don't know, a score of 800 is really, really good, like somewhere in the neighborhood of top 3 in the world. So it's ok if I don't get there for any given event.

1) Effective practice is tailored to your skill level.
2) Effective practice is goal oriented.
3) Learning decays with each successive trial.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Ebbinghaus

The fact is that the amount of improvement needed in any given is more than manageable when you divide it by 9! Does is seem unreasonable that a person could improve the amount of speed numbers he can memorize, at his very best, by 1 extra locus per month? If I do that's an increase of 81 digits by December, for a total score of 411, which is definitely world-class, and the kind of score I had never seriously envisioned myself achieving at any point in time, because it has just seemed so far out of reach. Now that it has been put in perspective, it seems doable. Does is seem feasible that a person can improve the speed at which he memorizes a deck of cards by 1 second per month? If I do, I'll tie the world record by December. Obviously that schedule will break down eventually. The end goals would have to be reassigned and divided at that point, but I digress.

The following is just about exactly how Jonas von Essen practices as far as I know. I don't think anyone improves more in a 9 month period than he does, so his practice schedule is an idea model. It fits beautifully into the confines of everything I know about effective practice, so there wasn't much adjustment needed.

Daily practice will take place in 2 blocks of 90 minutes. The first will take place the very first thing in the morning. The second will be in the evening or before bed. Each discipline will be cycled through evenly, always, in order to eliminate the bias that comes with enjoying some things more than others. Each discipline will be practice twice successively. After 90 minutes, I stop. I will organize the disciplines by length and by number of loci used so that I can always practice them this way, in 90 minute blocks, giving my loci maximum rest. The first run will be with the target of my monthly goal, which is always just out of reach. During this run, I will note any causes for error that I can identify. The second run will be a championship rehearsal run - a high score that I can get. This way, I don't just live for those ephemeral moments where I break a PB. I actively get better. During this run, I will intentionally work on improving at whatever caused my error the run before. Hour disciplines won't be repeated twice successively, since they use so many loci and take so long for memorization + recall. When I hit my monthly goal, I will begin working on next month's goal ahead of time. When I don't hit my monthly goal, I will continue working on that same goal over the next month. When that occurs, extra drills will be designed to improve at these particular skills. Those drills will be practiced outside of the 3 hour training time, as will the maintenance and reviews that come with having a big system, and as will the creation of new memory palaces, which I need a lot more of. I recently got my Texas Real Estate License so that I can always be building new palaces during the day, and reviewing them in person, all while working.

That's it! Every month on the 1st, I'll update this thread.

Thoughts welcome, opinions invited. :)

26 March, 2014 - 15:30
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Sounds like a great plan... looking forward to updates. :-)

1 April, 2014 - 18:09
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Okay, it's April 1st.

My birthday was the 30th, so I did some sightseeing in NY with my girlfriend that day and yesterday. I was going to start the plan up today, but my memocamp subscription has expired and I left my card somewhere in New York, so I'll have to go to the bank tomorrow and get a new card before I can renew that and do a bunch of the events. Anyway, worked on recognizing binary for a few hours and then tried for 720 in 5 minutes 3 times in a row, but forgot either 4 or 5 images each time. Will have to move that goal way up beyond the projected 800 for the end of the year.

Got my first sub-3 minute perfect doubledeck today at 2:55.2.

Here are the goals for December:

-------------------------------------------
5 Min Speed Cards = 25 seconds
5 Min Binary Digits = 900
5 Min Int. Names & Faces = 56
5 Min Random Numbers = 378
5 Min Historic/Future Dates = 100
5 Min Words = 100
15 Min Random Numbers = 720
15 Min Int. Names & Faces = 136
15 Min Random Words = 220
15 Min Abstract Images = 404
30 Min Binary Digits = 3600
60 min/Hour Cards = 1248
60 min/Hour Numbers = 2000
Spoken Numbers = 240
-------------------------------------------

Just tried my first 30-minute binary. I shot for 1800 and got them with little difficulty. I have to try for more to find the baseline, but I'm guessing it's near 2400. Didn't realize until today how few people can do 3600 digits though, so that goal will more than likely be changed also.

1 September, 2014 - 06:06
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Ok, it's September 1st.

I first joined these wonderful forums before I even knew how to memorize a deck of cards. Just about every step of my progress since then could be roughly traced by reading all of my nearly 1000 posts strewn about these forums. I wanted to revisit this thread again before the end of the year, and today marks 3/4 of the way through 2014, so today is as good a time as ever.

I've met some of my December goals already, but a couple of them are still very far off. I stopped training for many of the original goals after deciding against going to go to the WMC this December. Progress in the shorter events that I have been practicing instead has been good so far, though.

First of all, here are my current best scores for the original goals:

5 Min Speed Cards = 0:28.62
5 Min Binary Digits = 901 (accomplished!)
5 Min Int. Names & Faces = 51
5 Min Random Numbers = 406 (accomplished!)
5 Min Historic/Future Dates = 105.5 (accomplished!)
5 Min Words = 85
15 Min Random Numbers = 800 (accomplished!)
15 Min Int. Names & Faces = 85
15 Min Random Words = 167
15 Min Abstract Images = 415 (accomplished!)
30 Min Binary Digits = 2925
60 min/Hour Cards = 780
60 min/Hour Numbers = 2013 (accomplished!)
Spoken Numbers = 213

Here are the 10 events of the Western Regional MAA Championship to be held in November:

5 Min Speed Cards = 0:28.62
5 Min Binary Digits = 901
5 Min Int. Names & Faces = 51
5 Min Random Numbers = 406
5 Min Historic/Future Dates = 105.5
5 Min Words = 85
10 Min Cards = 315
15 Min Random Numbers = 800
15 Min Abstract Images = 415
Spoken Numbers = 200 (maximum)

These raw scores form a total of 8229 Championship Points, which I refer to as my "fantasy score." It means that in the highly improbable case that I were able to match all of my PB's on the same day, I would be ranked #2 globally, barely edging out #2-ranked Simon Reinhard's score of 8110.

In light of this, I am forming a new set of goals for the next two months. I am going to attempt to learn how to match or exceed these scores consistently in order to be able to enter the Western Regional with the belief that earning a #2 ranking by the end of the day is worth trying to do.

1 September, 2014 - 07:34
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Lance, you are aiming extremely high, and saying things like "edging out Simon Reinhard" takes guts to do it! Good luck with your training, smash it, man! Fingers crossed.... ;)

1 September, 2014 - 21:59
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Nothing wrong with aiming high!!!!!
We need to have more Americans up near or at the top!

Too bad Loci you aren't going to the WMC this December.....
But I can understand, the expense of flying and staying in China....
I am sure you would have done quite well!
"5 Min Speed Cards = 0:28.62
60 min/Hour Cards = 780
60 min/Hour Numbers = 2013"
Per the WMC website at http://www.world-memory-statistics.com/nationalrankings.php#/USA:
With those type of numbers you would have joined Nelson DELLIS GMM, Johnny (Juan) BRIONES IMM GMM and Scott Hagwood GMM

2 September, 2014 - 23:15
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Nightwalker wrote:
saying things like "edging out Simon Reinhard" takes guts to do it!

It allows allows me to be given some credit for completing that task without actually doing it. Just mentioning the scenario creates the illusion that I'm capable of it even if I never get close! xD. I am at the point where I can break 810 in the majority of the events the majority of the time, though not by much. But in 5 minute random words, I score 400 - 599 points 8% of the time and 600 points 3% of the time. My N&F and spoken digits scores are slightly better, but that might give you a more realistic idea of the odds of being able to average >820 points in every event back to back two months from now under the pressure of competition. :) I would have to do more than 810 per event to make up for the fact that the maximum that can be scored in spoken digits is 731 with the 200-digit cap of National Championship rules. Not that I would exceed it anyway :\

2 September, 2014 - 23:53
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Hi,
"under the pressure of competition" - this is the telling line, some competitors perform well under pressure, most don't.

One thing you can be certain of is that memorising while sitting at home in comfortable familiar surroundings is a lot different to memorising in competition.

You should also prepare to manage the pressure and stress levels when in competition.

Jimbo

3 September, 2014 - 01:47
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Jimbo1 wrote:

You should also prepare to manage the pressure and stress levels when in competition.

Do you have any suggestions about how to do that?

3 September, 2014 - 09:17
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LociInTheSky wrote:
Jimbo1 wrote:

You should also prepare to manage the pressure and stress levels when in competition.

Do you have any suggestions about how to do that?

Not that I was a professional who had competed in dozens of competitions, but my first experience was WMC 2013, and it was a disaster. I simply couldn't concentrate, and there was a 50% reduction of my performance. Really, 50%. And I was doing the same as you... Looking at the PBs or my pretty high scores. I could hit a deck in under 30 seconds without problem, but there, I failed both attempts. Switched two images. Such a trivial thing. But it happened.

Then I started thinking how to prepare for that better, and I realized that training in a noise causes my mind to be equally scattered as when performing under pressure. I wasn't even able to overwrite images in locations. It had never happened to me before. Few journeys rested for more than one week, and I encountered ghost images there. So I started training in noise, without earmuffs. My performance dropped dramatically, but I adapted to it. I remember the first "journey discipline": binary. I memorized first 480 digits, one journey, and then when I tried to review it, there wasn't anything! :-D Completely nothing. So now, my next competition, UK Open, I did the same thing. And when I realized that there was something, I was able to memorize, well, the all pressure was gone all of a sudden, because I knew that my training really helped me. I gained 50% more points without breaking any personal best in my home training. I haven't improved at all! I just became more consistent, and adapted to perform under not so pleasant conditions.

For example, spoken numbers... I tried to memorize them while spinning my body in a circles with the head turned downwards... It was such a disgusting feeling, I though I'd throw up, but I had something different to do. So I told myself "if I can memorize while my head is pretty much off, competition will be pleasant.."

I didn't encounter many gaps during the whole competition. I was somehow scared to memorize more because of my previous experience, but 29.96 on speed cards without any gap isn't bad at all... Most of the time you see the guys shuffling those cards and looking for the right match, but I ordered them in under 2 minutes, and then spent the rest of the time checking. That's what calms me down... No gaps.

This is just my observation, and it really helped me, so maybe you'll find at least something useful there....;)

3 September, 2014 - 13:42
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I have gone to the local library about 5 times during my lunch break for a quick memocamp session
During those times, the library was noisy with multiple distractions
My scores (which are already low since I just started about 4-5 months ago) were probably 25-30% lower than my average
Although I do believe that practicing like Nightwalker should have some advantages

I will try going to the library for memocamp sessions once a week for the next few months
I will let you know if I am able to get used to the environment and approach my at home scores

Ray

4 September, 2014 - 10:29
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Nightwalker wrote:

I didn't encounter many gaps during the whole competition. I was somehow scared to memorize more because of my previous experience, but 29.96 on speed cards without any gap isn't bad at all...

For your second competition, to achieve a time which fewer than 10 people have ever achieved in competition settings in the history of the sport, yes this isn't bad at all. I think I would not hesitate to classify your time as good, definitely above just OK. LOL.
By the way, what is the current US Championships official record for this? More than double your time? And in the US, they have had nearly two decades of yearly competitions to go at this record? Yes, your time isn't bad at all. LOL. Definitely nothing to be embarrassed about!
But be careful, by achieving times like that, you may make other people feel embarrassed about their times. That shouldn't be a concern of yours though.
My only problem is that I haven't found any official results of this UK competition. I would appreciate a link to the score sheets if anyone has that. I look forward to seeing how far this score will get you in the world standings.
Thanks for commenting on how you achieved this!
Simon

4 September, 2014 - 14:46
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You got under 30s in a competition? Congratulations, that's really impressive! I don't think I would be comfortable enough to even attempt approaching within 10 seconds of my card PB on game day. I probably couldn't memorize it that fast if I tried actually. I experience this weird thing at competitions where I'll look at cards or digits and not be able to remember what they stand for. But in my daily life I look at a digital clock and say a word in my head without even thinking.

And yeah, Johnny B holds the US record and it's right at about 1:00, give or take a second or two. I can't even remember the last time I've memorized a deck slower than 58 seconds; it's been many months. But I STILL don't feel confident that I'll hold that record next year.

So I saw that the November championship that I've trained for for the past few months isn't going to happen this year after all. I am utterly devastated and find it very difficult right now to go back to training for the WMC events, knowing that I have over a year before I get there. But seeing as it is SO far away, I am afforded the opportunity to redefine my monthly goals into something new and equally ambitious. Since I'm already at 900 in many places, it should probably be redefined as something like 1100 points in every event in 15 months. But the loss of this competition has really sapped my motivation, so I'm not comfortable trying to convince myself that I'll be able to do what it takes to get there. I'll revisit this thread when I make a decision.

Plus, last year "1000" points for hourly was 2200 digits, and now it's 2800. For spoken it was 274 and now it is 374. For 30m cards it was 13 decks and now it is seventeen. I'm not even in the ballpark to hit LAST year's 1000 point goals in these events. What will 1100 points be for NEXT year's goals? Perhaps double what I can do now? Far more in some disciplines no doubt.

4 September, 2014 - 15:20
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They cancelled the November event?
We have a real lack of events here in the US.....

4 September, 2014 - 20:04
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LociInTheSky][quote=raykidwell wrote:

We have a real lack of events here in the US.....

The number of official championships (those which will count toward the world ranking ladders) is exactly 0. I want very badly to move to Europe for this reason. It would be a big change, and I have no prospects in Europe other than attending a bunch of championships which is obviously the most important thing. Maybe not that big of a change because I wouldn't be any more broke than I am today. Nor would I have fewer friends. It is nevertheless a difficult commitment to make. Plus, I heard Europeans put mayonnaise all over everything. What is that about?

And carbonated water? Our species has not evolved to prefer carbonated water. Look at the other great apes. Are they drinking carbonated water? No. Are they putting mayonnaise all over everything? Probably not.

Edit: I just calculated my WMC fantasy score. It's 7155.958. More than a thousand points shy of my Western Regional MAA fantasy score. It comes out to 6082.5643 with my standard 15% nervousness deduction, which is 21.5643 points greater than Astrid Plessl's 10th place score of 6061. So that is encouraging!

5 September, 2014 - 15:48
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simon L. wrote:

But be careful, by achieving times like that, you may make other people feel embarrassed about their times. That shouldn't be a concern of yours though.

This crossed my mind. When I made the OP up there in March, the idea of being able to come back here and share my successes motivated me and held me accountable. Maybe I really would be able to pull this off...

When those target scores actually started showing up, I had to stop and ask myself if it was still okay to get online and say "Look how well I'm doing! "

And I decided that it ought to be okay. If you go back far enough, you'll find my post that says, "I'm making awesome progress! Any day now I'll drop under that 5:00 mark for cards, I can feel it!" No reason to stop now. Imagine how much harder it would be to stay motivated if we didn't have a forum to share our successes and failures with each other.

5 September, 2014 - 22:12
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Thanks Loci for all you effort, posts, enthusiasm, etc.

I think we should all be comfortable posting our progress on this site

Sure, they are those who progress slower than others, but we can still celebrate their achievement

I believe we should all encourage each other

In Ironman triathlons, the loudest cheers often go to the people who finish just under the cutoff times of 17 hours

Lets do the same in memory sports

We need to cheer all new people who remember their first deck (even if it takes 25 minutes!)

Also, those of us who are slower or newer (like me) should be encouraging the leaders and studs of the sport

Its awesome seeing guys like Ben Pridmore, Nelson Dellis and Lance Tschirhat reporting their process

We need to be cheering them on the get the sport more recognized, and to continue to advance progress\

So Lance, keep us up to date
To go from a 5 minute deck to 6 decks in 10 minutes just rocks!!!!
Even though most people on this site wont be able to duplicate that even after a few years, still let us know!
I am rooting for you to get that 7th deck!

Ray

7 September, 2014 - 00:19
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raykidwell wrote:
I think we should all be comfortable posting our progress on this site

I've always thought that there is a thin line between bragging and informing about some new progress.... But "memory people" taught me that I was wrong. Does anybody have an evidence that someone comes to the competition and starts humiliating others? I participated at a competition only twice, but I haven't even encountered this kind of behavior since I registered to this forum... We are all different, there are many liars in the world presenting themselves as GMMs and so on, but that's not my point. I find this sport the most honest "sport thing" I have ever seen..... Because, probably, it's not a sport, it's a life-style, at least, to my mind.

Lance, think about it this way... You revealed all our secrets concerning Shadow System, so why wouldn't you want to share your progress? That's the only way to show us that your system works and it is worth trying out... Saying you've devised a great system without any evidence is like trying to sell me something in spite of the fact you're unable to tell how it works. This happens in today's world all the time.

7 September, 2014 - 02:58
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Lance, don't worry, hahaha.

Not all Europeans put mayonnaise all over everything and not all Europeans drink carbonated water. I don't like mayonnaise and I can survive, in Spain there are some meals wich "need" mayonnaise but not at the level you are imagining. And I think that restaurants have some carbonated water bottles only for the tourists. I haven't any carbonated water drinker among my friends, Spanish people don't use to drink it. :-)

But Spain is different...

8 September, 2014 - 05:30
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I was just kidding about the mayo! However, I really did think that everyone in Europe drank carbonated water. Shows how little I know about other cultures. Shameful.

24 September, 2014 - 20:31
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The day I decided not to go to China this year was the day that the Western Regional was confirmed in the US.

Now that I know it isn't going to happen this year, I'm reinstating my original 2014 WMC goals and am going to at least plan to go to China. 3 months ago, I completely stopped practicing these 6 events: hour cards, hour digits, 30 minute binary, 15 minute N&F, 15 minute words, and spoken digits >200. I would have gotten five months to train these events, where now I have two. And that makes me cringe.

But as the paragon of the psychological mode of internal locus of control that I am, I'm going to make up for this by accelerating my schedule over the next two months. By potentially doubling my training time in this way, I will have four blocks of time (much better than only two) where I will be accountable for meeting the calculated goals. The added fact that the 5 events that I am behind in are 15, 15, 30, 60, and 60 minutes long means that merely doubling my time spent training might not give me enough time to meet the goals. Furthermore, I am going to have to make and get used to several hundred more loci in order to account for the extra training. So I am prepared to spend as much as triple the amount of time that I usually train over the next two months. I think I can do just about anything if I don't have to do it for longer than 2 months. People have done more difficult things than this before.

So we'll see if I have patches of gray hair and deep rings under my eyes in December. That's the update!

24 September, 2014 - 20:47
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Loci,

YES!!!!!
We need some top Americans competing in China (my personal goal for WMC is 2015 since I've only been training for 4 months)
And we need more Americans to join Nelson DELLIS ranked #29 and Johnny BRIONES ranked #87
It looks like we only have 3 active Americans in the top 200 (Brad Zupp is at 164)

The human body and mind can adapt wonderfully for short periods of time
just make sure that your diet/exercise/sleep don't sacrifice
I will be one of the Americans rooting for you!

Ray :)

24 September, 2014 - 22:50
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Lance,
If you pull off that amount of training without burning out, then I'll be convinced that you're superhuman.

25 September, 2014 - 00:25
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ALeman wrote:
Lance,
If you pull off that amount of training without burning out, then I'll be convinced that you're superhuman.

Me too. Time will tell...

25 September, 2014 - 01:13
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Hi!

Lance, could you check your Facebook? I sent you a message.

29 September, 2014 - 03:38
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Ok, thanks for letting me know. I log in an average of . 025 times per week so that is necessary. There may be functions that you needed that are only possible on Facebook. But if not, know for the future that I am usually very good about reading and responding to PM's on this site. But maybe not quite as good for the next 2 months.

6 October, 2014 - 12:22
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Super cool update for the Lance thread!

You reddy?!

First of all, my being superhuman is officially falsified, but I've come to terms with that.

As Ben said, a 4-digit system won't be as fast as 3-digits. And as I responded, "It doesn't matter. Even 75% speed affords great advantages." And I am confident that I will be able to pull my new work-already-in-progress 4-digit system above the 75% mark anyway, using my current speed as the standard.

There's no looking back now, so I will do everything in my power (I had better!) to gain the skill I will need to score high enough to move forward to the top 8 at the USAMC as planned. I rely on cards and digits there to make up for not-useful N&F and poetry scores. Thus, meeting that deadline is essential.

Though it is a distant second priority, I hope that my 12-digit binary list will be at least usable at the Western Regional (maybe now that it has been postponed, let's make it the Central Open and hold it at UT in Austin, Tx instead, so we have championships all over the country instead of jammed up against the edge every time). But we don't know exactly when that will take place (though Flauwy assures us still that it WILL take place) so I can't consider it a serious deadline.

9 October, 2014 - 07:06
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LociInTheSky wrote:

As Ben said, a 4-digit system won't be as fast as 3-digits. And as I responded, "It doesn't matter. Even 75% speed affords great advantages." And I am confident that I will be able to pull my new work-already-in-progress 4-digit system above the 75% mark anyway, using my current speed as the standard.

There's no looking back now, so I will do everything in my power (I had better!) to gain the skill I will need to score high enough to move forward to the top 8 at the USAMC as planned.

Lance, for your 4 digit system, do you mean non-composite images? Do you mean one unique image for each number 0-9999? And how can you move forward to the top 8 at the USAMC? Didn't you finish in the top 5 earlier this year?

12 October, 2014 - 10:16
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10,000 unique images, yes. Non-composite, no.
I have simply made the very basic embellishments needed to adapt Dennis Mueller's card system to base-10 and binary digits. In digits, 500 major categories of 20 objects arise naturally, but more specifically, each of these natural categories is two qualitatively disparate subsets of ten images which nevertheless share some element of imagery-content between them.

Incidentally, several counter-intuitive advantages over a 3-digit system, and over the only other 4-digit system I know (Simon System) such as doubling the likelihood of identifying the contents of a forgotten, "blank" locus by mentally cycling through the possibilities in the time remaining, rather than reducing that likelihood by 1000%, which is what one would be most likely to expect from a 4-digit system. The 12-digit block-binary set up uses 4096 images.

================
IMPORTANT NOTE
================

I have really enjoyed having this soapbox of a thread to share my planning strategies and update progress from time to time. But you'll see that the OP was made in 2014. It would have been more interesting if I had thought of splitting my desired progress into monthly goals in 2013. I've been on the fence about this for a while, but I looked straight into my own eyes and asserted peremptorily that I will neither attend the 2014 WMC nor pine, nor whine over it.
(I used a mirror, obviously)

Instead I reinvigorated myself by devising a more ambitious schedule for 2015. Right now I will make a sister thread in the same spirit.

So please let this thread wither with the coming Winter.

17 October, 2014 - 03:19
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LociInTheSky wrote:
10,000 unique images, yes. Non-composite, no.
I have simply made the very basic embellishments needed to adapt Dennis Mueller's card system to base-10 and binary digits. In digits, 500 major categories of 20 objects arise naturally, but more specifically, each of these natural categories is two qualitatively disparate subsets of ten images which nevertheless share some element of imagery-content between them.
(snip) other 4-digit system I know (Simon System)

Sorry to revive this thread but I would be very interested to know more about the Dennis Mueller and Simon (?Reihard) systems.
I can find no reference to the first and have only a very sketchy idea of the second.
Can you give a couple of examples of the categories and objects?

17 October, 2014 - 06:49
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I can't really speak to specific examples or objects or categories (although I assumed these would be something like "water-related," "sky-related," "food-related," "sharp," etc.), but the first link should give a basic idea of Dennis's card system. I don't think Simon's ever really explained his system publicly, but the second link is the best I've come across:

http://www.memory-sports.com/blog/2009/08/31/interview-dennis-muller/

http://mt.artofmemory.com/forums/simon-system-2047.html

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