Dominic O’Brien: From Dyslexic to 8-Time Memory Champ

Dominic O’Brien has done what no man has done before, win the World Memory Championship eight different times, came in second twice, and was sixth in another before he finally retired from the competition. That means he has matched his memory against the greatest memory experts in the world and come out victorious more than any other.

His first place finish at the first World Memory Championship in London in 1991 set the bar for future competitions, and his record of wins has not been matched. He is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records for his May 1, 2002 feat repeating a random sequence of 54 decks of cards (2808 playing cards) after looking at each card only once. He was able to correctly recite their order, with only eight errors, four of which he immediately was able to correct when told he was wrong.

How is he able to memorize so well? According to him, “I have boiled down the various methods to three main ingredients: imagination (transforming new information into images that we can easily recall); association (connecting these imaginative images to what we already know); and location (anchoring these associations in our mind).”

What is even more amazing is that he is no savant, he is no genius, and he was not a star pupil in school. In fact, as a student he was diagnosed with dyslexia, and had difficulty reading and writing.   What he did excel at was the ability to visualize, and this skill has been advantageous in his training for the World Memory Championships. He believes that it’s possible than anyone can do what he does, with the proper training.

Dominic says participation in the World Memory Championships has opened up a whole new world for him. “I think it’s made me more creative, it’s opened up my brain, it’s given me more self-belief, something I never had when I was at school,” he says. “I was diagnosed with dyslexia, I failed most of my exams, and I couldn’t concentrate. And that’s one thing you really need to be able to do. You need to have a good memory to win this. You also need to be able to concentrate, so there are so many benefits once you start exploring your imagination, your creativity.”

Dominic was born on August 10, 1957 in Great Britain. In 1987 he watched Creighton Carvello on the television show “Record Breakers” as he memorize a deck of shuffled playing cards in just under three minutes. Dominic was so mesmerized by the feat that it encouraged him to investigate memory training himself.

“It was a matter of months before I was breaking records myself and in 1991 I won the first World Memory Championships held in London’s Athenaeum Club.”

O’Brien developed the “Mnemonic Dominic System,” which is similar to the “Major System” or phonetic mnemonic memory system.   It applies the basic principles of memory training – the use of familiar places, association, and picturing imagined scenes. It also requires the ability to focus, imagination, and a lot of persistence and dedication. “After ten years of studying memory and training my own mind, I am able to perform incredible mental feats, including memorizing the sequence of 54 packs of shuffled playing cards,” he said.

When asked in an interview by Canny Minds, O’Brien says, “A good memory is a reflection of ones ability to make connections between disparate pieces of information by involving all the functions of the brain. Initially, to make progress, tried and tested methods must be adopted. To become a champion requires innovation, adaptation, and a natural aptitude to think laterally.”

O’Brien has written books about memorization techniques such as “How to Develop a Perfect Memory,” “Quantum Memory Power,” “Learn to Remember,” “How to Pass Exams,” “The Winning Hand,” and “The Amazing Memory Box.” Currently he trains people for his company, Peak Performance Training and travels the world giving lectures and making television appearances on such shows as: The Human Body, Tomorrow’s World, Oprah, Guinness World of Records, How Do They Do That?

About the author:

Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert.

Memory Training


World Memory Championships:

Yahoo Games: 21-year-old Memory Champ breaks records:

Mail Online – How to beat forgetfulness, by eight-times world memory champion Dominic O’Brien

Wikipedia – Dominic O’Brien:

Peak Performance Training – Dominic O’Brien:

Canny Minds – Canny Interview with 8 times World Memory Champion, Dominic O’Brien:


Comments are closed.

You May Also Like