How anyone, anywhere, can take part in a CMSA Honorary Memory Challenge

Cliquez ici pour lire cette page en français.

We’re now midway through 2020, year of the plague, and unfortunately we still don’t know when we’ll be able to organize another in-person memory championship. That’s disappointing, but it certainly doesn’t mean you won’t have a pretext to train your memory skills this year!

  • Location: Anywhere you happen to be in the Universe
  • Date: Any time from now until Oct. 28 for Round 1. Anytime from Jan. 5 until Feb. 1st for Round 2.
  • Cost: Nothing
  • Rewards: Nothing (except eternal admiration by all current and future generations)
  • Skills requirement: You need to be the legitimate owner of a human brain.

All the disciplines for Round 1 of our Honorary Challenge are ready and easily accessible by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.

Other dates had been previously announced, but we’ve decided to extend the deadline to participate in the first round until Oct 28. And we’ve decided to add an optional “Round 2” in January. Same format, same rules, different challenges. For those who choose to take part in both, it will be interesting to see if they can manage to improve a lot or a little during those few months.

And here all the answers to all the questions you might have:

Question: How will it work?
Answer: We’ve tried to make it extremely easy to participate even if you’re new to memory techniques, stuck in Antarctica and/or you’re dealing with a busy schedule. You can start memorizing right now if you want, or any other day before Oct. 28 or in between Jan. 5 and Feb 1st. Overall it will work more or less like one of our regular memory championships, except that it will be unofficial and that you will be free to choose where and when you want to be tested. And you will need to self-regulate everything related to timing and scoring before sending us your results. We reserve the right to ignore any obvious cheater or troll, but otherwise, soon after Oct. 28 and Feb 1st, we’ll just publish every results and comments we’ve received along with a pretty scoreboard. So there won’t be anything real at stake here, but it will be fun and it will motivate at least some of us to start training a little more regularly again.

Question: How much of a time commitment should I expect?
Answer: Can be a lot if you want to train seriously for everything and try to improve as much as possible in between the 2 rounds. Can be very little if you only want to take part in either Round 1 or Round 2, skip some of the challenges and not worry too much about your scores.

Question: What if I’m not good enough or not well prepared enough?
Answer: Some forms of brain damage are possible, but rest assured that it doesn’t happen very often. More seriously, in theory we all know that we shouldn’t care too much about that, but in real life the sentiment expressed in the question happens to be extremely common. We can’t magically make it disappear, but we can at least remind everyone that they should see this as a game and that taking on this kind of challenge by itself is an excellent way to improve their skills. We’ve done our best to try to design a format that works well for people of all skill levels, including experts and complete beginners and everyone in between. For the first 4 disciplines, a very basic understanding of memory techniques is all you need. If you’re new to the world of memory training, this page will explain how you can very quickly become ready for your first challenges. You can also choose to skip any discipline that for some reason you’re not interested in. And if you’re still worried about how you might look compared to all the other experts, you can choose to use a pseudonym instead of your real name. Or simply not send us your results.

Question: Isn’t the whole thing just like practicing by myself?
Answer: Not quite. If you pretend that it’s a real competition, it will feel real. Also the overall format isn’t quite the same than what you might have seen elsewhere before. And you’ll get try out a unique event that we call “the Exam”.

Question: What if I’m used to the classic international format and I would rather not have to adapt to something new?
Answer: For most disciplines, if you want to you can choose to use the classic international format on the IAM training website or instead. Only a few adjustments will still have to be made regarding some time constraints and the way you count your scores. You can also choose to skip our weird exam if you want to.

Question: How will you know that people didn’t cheat?
Answer: We won’t. It’s an honorary and unofficial challenge and there are no titles or rewards at stake. If we have very good reasons to think some results aren’t legit, we might refuse to publish them or add a small cautionary note next to their scores. Somehow we don’t think that this will be necessary.

Question: Will taking part in a CMSA Honorary Challenge solve all of the problems in my life?
Answer: Yes. Probably.


Bottom line is that no matter who or where you are, if you have a little bit of time and energy and you’re somewhat interested in the idea of training your memory, we’re very sorry but it won’t be easy to find a good excuse for not participating.


Question: Ok you’ve managed to persuade me. What happens now?

Answer: First of all congratulations for the infinitely wise and infinitely brave decision you just took.

  • If you’re unfamiliar with them, first make sure to learn about the different rules and events here. No need to bother with the last section about championship points calculations. Also know that as we’ve said before, in this case it’s ok if you want to skip some disciplines for some reason. If you want to practice with the CMSA format, you can use some of the sample disciplines on this page
  • You can access all the disciplines now by clicking the link at the bottom of this page. You can attack them whenever you feel like it, once a while during your lunch breaks for example. You can choose to print everything in advance and memorize the old fashioned way far from any potentially distracting technological device, or you can memorize directly on your computer. When you’re done you’ll (hopefully) e-mail us all your results. You’re welcome to include any comments you might want to add (“I messed up my card attempt because…”). Unless you want to participate anonymously (just use a pseudonym if that’s the case), please tell us your name, your age (keep it vague if you want, but we want to know if you’re 60 or older or if you’re under 18) and where you live. Please also tell us if you took part in the Advanced section or the Regular section (less strict scoring rules/ cards and numbers optional). 
  • If you want to be a little more hardcore about the whole thing, as soon as your decision to participate is taken, you’re encouraged to either leave a Facebook comment next to a relevant post or e-mail us directly at and declare your intention to go through all the events on day X. This is a commitment device to make sure you don’t procrastinate everything indefinitely. You’re also encouraged to do all the events on the same day and follow a strict schedule as if you had been competing in a real championship.
  • As we’ve said, soon after Oct. 28 (Round 1) and Feb 1st (Round 2), we’ll just publish every results and comments we’ve received along with a pretty scoreboard.

As usual, we’re hoping to see plenty of complete beginners, newcomers, casual memorizers and experts participating and showing us what they can do!

Click here to access all the disciplines for Round 1!

Update: Some friendly people from Landmark Group in Vancouver and China went through the trouble of translating from English to Chinese all of our different disciplines! If you want to download all the documents they kindly sent us, you can do so by clicking here.