This is a continuation of a post about the 2015 USA Memory Championship. To read from the start click here
It was now time for the final round, the Double Deck of Cards. The 5 remaining competitors would be given 5 minutes to study a Double Deck of Cards (2 decks/104 cards). Every competitor would be given identical decks to study. Then out on stage they would sit in seats 1-5. The first person would say the first card, the second person say the second card, third person say the third card and so on. When someone said an incorrect card or couldn’t answer they would be eliminated until the last person standing wins.
The night before the tournament I told Nelson, ‘Just hit your numbers and you will win.’ What I meant by that is others have equal (or even better) memory skills than him but none of them (yet) have proven they can win on a stage in front of an audience. Nerves gets the best of them and they can’t focus. It got Nelson in 2013 in the Double Deck of Cards event when he hesitated for a second and looked at his girlfriend and lost his focus and then lost the tournament. With that said, 80% of the time 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 he has shown he can focus under the pressure of being on stage.
I’d safely say that Lance and Alex had all 104 cards memorized in the final Double Deck of Cards event but on stage they lost track of where they were in deck and both were eliminated on the 3 of Diamonds. I’ll interject a personal opinion here and that is there is no reason a mental athlete should lose focus.
They train 12 months for this event and then to lose it because their mind wanders on stage is something they must work to correct or Nelson will win in 2016 even if his scores aren’t the best. He is mentally tough and right now his top competitors are very skilled and talented but in the crunch they have to prove they are mentally tough and can perform on stage before anyone takes the title from Nelson.
(How to become mentally tough to perform on stage –> Do anything. At a party ask 10 people to stare at you while you memorize cards, ask your waitress to stare at you will you do it or do whatever but get used to performing in front of groups. Volunteer to teach memory to schools for free just to practice in front of a group.)
I do think Livan Grijalva is someone who could have given Nelson a run in this area. Alex and Lance’s card scores are better than Livan’s (at tournaments) but Livan is a trained magician at ease performing in front of groups. Because of this he may have been Nelson’s toughest competitor.
Livan not being in the final round is the Butterfly Effect (the theory that a butterfly flapping it wings in Panama leads to small changes and eventually a hurricane in the USA (hypothetically). The Butterfly Effect is that Livan not being in the tournament changed the cards everyone would recite and most likely Alex and Lance would not have had the 3 of Diamonds as their turn. Everything changed but it also important to note that does not mean it changed the outcome. Nelson is tough, tough, tough and the only one who has beaten Nelson in the Double Deck of Cards event is Nelson (2013).
But back from my personal editorial to the tournament. Johnny and Nelson continued into the second deck in the Double Deck of Cards where Johnny was eliminated on the 12th card and Nelson was crowned as champ.
If the other guys can improve their ability to focus on stage and stay mentally tough Nelson has a tough fight for the title ahead. If not, he could reign indefinitely.