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

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Important update concerning our Honorary Mental Math Challenge:

Our Honorary Mental Math Challenge is now officially over. Thanks and congratulations to everyone who participated! If you’re curious, you can click here to see everyone’s results.

It’s unfortunately too late for you to be included in the scoreboards. However, if you missed the deadline, or if you want to attempt to do better than you previously did, it will always be possible for you to download the latest challenges and test yourself. The latest editions of our Honorary Memory Challenge and our Honorary Mental Math Challenge will always remain accessible online, and so will our memory and mental math training tools and sample disciplines. So if at some point in the future you want to try something and post your results, you’re very welcome to do so as a comment at the bottom of the honorary results page, as a post in this Facebook group or anywhere else you prefer.

Although they’re meant to accessible to people of all skill levels, those challenges certainly aren’t easy. It’s a little bit like trying to run an intellectual half-marathon. It can be exhausting. It can be (slightly) humiliating when you don’t do as well as you thought you would. But it’s a great way to force yourself to practice a bit more and to see what you can manage to accomplish. That’s why I’m (Francis Blondin) personally hoping to informally try both challenges again at some point in 2021.

If you want to attempt this challenge, you can just ignore most of the outdated paragraphs below, scroll down and click the link at the very bottom of this page to download all the disciplines whenever you’re ready.

[Warning: Some of the information below is now outdated]

The CMSA Honorary Mental Math Challenge is on until March 15!

For the countless legions of mental math fanatics out there, and for people who might want to try something new, we’ve decided to organize an unofficial and honorary mental math challenge free and open to everyone. And we’ve decided to extend the previously announced deadline.

If you already know everything you need to know about how everything is supposed to work, you can just ignore all the paragraphs below and click this link to download all the disciplines.

  • Location: Anywhere you happen to be in the Universe
  • Date: Anytime you want from now until March. 15, 2021.
  • 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.

Our events are open to people of all ages and all skill levels. No matter how good or how bad you are at mental calculations, we have something to offer that should be well adapted to your skill level.

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 a beginner, you’re stuck in Antarctica and/or you’re dealing with a busy schedule. Any day of your choice from now until March 15, you will simply come to this page, download all the challenges and test yourself wherever and whenever will be most convenient for you. You will then send us your results. Soon after March 15, we’ll publish a pretty scoreboard with all the results we’ve received. If you want, you can also send us some comments (“I messed up the divisions because the dog kept bothering me…”) for us to publish along with all the results.

Just like our Honorary Memory Challenge, the Honorary Mental Math Challenge will be unofficial and self-regulated. You will need to self-regulate everything related to timing and scoring. Overall it will be mostly just a game and a way for some of us to motivate ourselves to start training more regularly again.

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 or anything real 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: 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. Can be very little if you only want to skip some of the challenges and not worry too much about your scores.

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 just having a deadline and knowing that your results will be published and compared with others can serve as a powerful form of motivation.

Question: What if I’m not good enough or not well prepared enough?
Answer:  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. We also provided links to plenty of free or cheap resources to learn to spectacularly improve your skills at mental calculations. But even without any further training, you should know that almost everyone can deal with the problems from the Beginner section. And most high school students and adults are fully capable of solving the problems presented in the Regular section. What’s most difficult is to try to solve as many problems as possible while being fast and accurate.

What will be most difficult or impossible will be to try to be more efficient than some of the other experts who will be participating. Should you care about whether or not you will look “bad” compared to them? In theory we all know that we shouldn’t, but in real life that kind of sentiment 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. All that being said, if you don’t want your name to be published, it’s completely ok to just use a pseudonym instead of your real name.

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 for that kind of mental challenge, 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
  • If you want to practice in advance, you can use some of the sample disciplines on this page.
  • You can click here if you want to learn more about how it’s possible to become much, much faster with mental calculations.
  • All the new disciplines can be accessed by clicking the link you’ll see below. 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, or you can write down your answers directly in the different documents. 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 the divisions 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 (where you calculate everything mentally before writing down your answers), the Regular section (where you can write down all your calculations) or the Beginner section (with easier problems).
  • 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 during week or day X. This is a commitment device to make sure you don’t procrastinate everything indefinitely. You can spread out all the different challenges over many different days. You can also choose to do everything on the same day and follow a strict schedule as if you had been competing in a real championship.
  • Soon after March 15, we’ll 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 hobbyists and experts participating and showing us what they can do!

Click here to access all the disciplines for the Honorary Mental Math Challenge!