Ben Pridmore is an accountant from Derby, in the United Kingdom, with a memory most people in the world would envy. He has won the World Memory Championship three times – 2004, 2008 and 2009, and holds a total of eight championships. two current and one former world record – so far. As of December 2011 Ben is ranked number four on the world-ranking list for Memory Sports.
Pridmore’s 2009 World Memory Championship victory was his eighth consecutive memory competition win since coming in second at the 2007 World Championship. He also was able to break the long-standing world record for memorizing a randomly shuffled deck of card in under 30 seconds, with a time of 24.68 seconds.
Winning the World Memory Championship requires winning 10 different types of memory competitions over a three-day period. The “Holy Grail” of the tournament is the 30-second barrier in memorizing a 52-card deck of randomly shuffled cards.
According to Tony Buzan, originator of the World Memory Championships, “In physical sports terms, it is equivalent to the 4 Minute Mile. When Roger Bannister finally broke that record in 1954, it was by the tiniest of margins — 6 tenths of a second… a mere 0.25%. Ben Pridmore’s breaking of the 30 Second Barrier by 3.72 seconds is an unprecedented demolition of what seemed to be the ultimate barrier. It pushes back, to a gigantic degree, the boundaries of human mental capacity. It is the equivalent of Roger Bannister having broken the Four Minute Mile by 29.76 seconds” (German lawyer Simon Reinhard broke Ben’s record in 2010, but Ben plans to earn it back.)
Ben also holds the world records for memorizing the most binary numbers in 30 minutes (4140); memorizing the most cards in one hour (1456 cards or 28 decks); and has memorized over 25,000 digits to Pi.
Besides memory, Ben is famous for his mental calculation skills, the ability to do mathematical calculations with only his brain, and no calculators or outside aides. He took part in the Mental Calculation World Cup in 2004, 2006 and 2010. In addition, he has also won several medals at the Mind Sports Olympiad including becoming the 2001 World Champion at the ten-disciplined mind sport competition that takes place in one session – the “decamentathlon,” designed to find the best all-around games player in the world.
Ben has been immortalized in music. He was prominently featured in the hip-hop music video for American composer DJ Shadow’s single “Scale It Back.”
“It’s really great to say you are the best in the world at something,” says the 35-year old bachelor, “even if it’s for something stupid like memorizing things.”
According to Ben, “I’ve developed memory systems that work for me, and practice concentrating. You need to get your mind to thinking about one thing at a time.” He says he turns the cards into images of objects and people and places then along a path. He also says it takes lots and lots of practice.
Like most memory experts, Pridmore creates a mental story, comprises a sequence of images that he has permanently memorized as representing number groups, playing card pairs etc. He often forms his story around his old school, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, in Horncastle as the basis for these memory sequences.
The World Memory Championship has been taking place every year since 1991. “Memory Champions are made, not born” says Buzan. “The thousands of hours of training which Ben and his fellow memory wizards put in confirm the recently reported scientific fact that genius can be learned. This feat is the result of training the relevant part of brain to ultimate performance — by hard work, and hard play! The brain can be trained, as Ben has amply demonstrated.”
Is Ben Pridmore good at remembering everything? “Not at all,” he said. “I am notorious for not remembering names and faces.” Everyone has his or her Achilles’ heel.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life. His CDs and memory products are also available online at BrainAthlete.com.
Wikipedia – Ben Pridemore: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Pridmore
World Memory Championship: http://www.worldmemorychampionships.com/TDE_CMS/database/userfiles//Current%20Memory%20Records%202011%20v4.pdf
World Memory Championships: http://www.worldmemorychampionships.com/world_rankings.asp
The Telegraph – World Memory Champion reveals his secrets: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1559499/World-memory-champion-reveals-his-secrets.html