Did you notice how we wrote “Because anyone can learn to do what we do” right below our name? We mean it. We’re not geniuses. We weren’t born with a great memory or with the ability to solve a Rubik’s cube or do lightning fast calculations. Although not everyone will reach the same levels at the same speed, anyone can spectacularly increase his or her skills in almost any domain, including of course in the three “mind sports” that we’re promoting. We think the world would be a better place if people realized how they can train their brain like they can train their body. Please stop saying or thinking that you have “a bad memory”, you’re “not good at math”, you could “never solve one of those”, you’re “not a musical person”, you’re “not good at languages” and so on. The reality is that those skills are (almost) all about efforts, persistence and learning how to learn.
Becoming one of the best in the world usually takes years of efforts. But if you proceed intelligently, becoming decent or “good enough” only takes about 20 hours of dedicated efforts, or about 45 minutes a day for about a month. And when it comes to memory sports, mental math and cubing, it can even be much faster. For example the beginner’s method for solving the cube can be learned in maybe one to six hours. In the right conditions the art of memory can lead to seemingly spectacular results almost overnight, although you’ll probably need more practice to learn to use it autonomously with ease. And for mental math there are many very cool tricks that you can learn in a few minutes.
If you simply want to compete and perform relatively well as a complete beginner, just read this very short guide that explains how to do just that.
Want to learn more? Below you’ll find just enough great resources to satisfy your curiosity. We’re short on time now but we have some pretty ambitious goals for this section of the CMSA website, so be sure to come back here later for more helpful articles and videos.
About the art of memory
If you’re starting from zero and you just want to compete and do relatively well at the championship, simply read this short guide we wrote just for you. If you’re interested in the art of memory in a more general sense, click here instead for a very helpful and more complete beginner’s guide to the subject or check out the rest of the same site if you speak French. There’s a lot here, but you certainly don’t need to read and watch everything. Just focus on the parts you’re most interested in. If you’re short on time, just read this article and watch this video to understand what the art of memory is all about. Check out this example of the linking method. Watch this video and this other video about the memorization of names and faces. Then come back to the short guide we included first. That’s all you need to compete in the Beginners section and possibly do quite well!
Click here for sample disciplines and training tools and be sure to come back to this page later for more detailed tips and competition strategies.
About the Rubik’s cube
Check out this great 4 minutes video to understand what cubing is all about. “The biggest misconception about cubing is that it’s difficult, which it really isn’t”, says the record holder being interviewed. It may be difficult at first, but so is tying your shoelaces. More advanced methods take much longer to master, but just solving the cube, while it can take a little while, may very well be the easiest apparently difficult skill in the world. You should learn to solve the damn thing and be proud of your accomplishment, but you should also know that it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re smarter than anyone else.
If you speak French, use this great website: www.francocube.com. If you don’t, use this link instead to learn the beginner’s method. That’s really all you need. But if you’d like to go deeper, below are some other helpful links.
If you want to judge and help us out during the championship, please learn the notations.
How to solve a 2×2.
Although at least this year we don’t have this as an event, why not learn how to solve a 2×2 blind?
If you know how to memorize numbers, why not convert cubing notations into numbers to help you learn all the different algorithms faster?
About mental math
You remember how to do multiplications and divisions don’t you? Well since you’ll be able to write down your calculations, that’s all you need if you want to compete in the Beginners section of our mental math championship. But if you want to become faster, do everything in your head and compete in the Regular section. The best one thing you can do is probably to buy and read this book and start practicing. If you just need some inspiration and you’d like to hear some cool stories and tricks listen to this interview with the author. For a more complete instructional experience, you could also sign up for a free trial on “The Great Courses Plus” website, complete this video course in less than 14 days and then cancel (or not) your subscription. Or again if you prefer here’s a much older free video by the same guy.
Click here for some sample disciplines and training tools.
For more difficult problems, it’s really helpful to learn how to use the art of memory to memorize numbers.
About learning how to learn
How to learn a new skill in about 20 hours: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MgBikgcWnY
About the very important concept that is deliberate practice: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/classroom_qa_with_larry_ferlazzo/2016/04/peak_an_interview_with_anders_ericsson_robert_pool.html ; http://jamesclear.com/deliberate-practice-theory ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWl4liX4PNw et https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoUHlZP094Q Use those principles to get better at anything.
Do you have what’s called a “Growth Mindset”? Most people don’t, but they really should learn to develop one: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Mindset-The-New-Psychology-of-Success ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUWn_TJTrnU et https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-71zdXCMU6A
By the way you can often speed up Youtube videos by 25 or 50% without negatively affecting comprehension. You can also convert them to mp3 files and listen while doing something else: https://www.dvdvideosoft.com/fr/products/dvd/Free-YouTube-to-MP3-Converter.htm