Step-by-step plan to take part in our latest Honorary Challenge

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Important update concerning our Honorary Memory Challenge:

Both Round 1 and 2 are 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If you’re ready to attempt this challenge, you can just ignore some of the now-outdated information below, scroll down, download your first discipline and start whenever you’re ready.


So I see that you’re getting ready to take part in our latest “honorary challenge”. That’s great! I’m sure the Gods of memory are currently looking at you with pride and excitement, speculating among themselves about how well or how poorly you’ll perform. I suggest you just ignore them and do your best without worrying too much about your results.

So here are some steps that you can choose to follow on your journey to eternal happiness:

1- If you’re unfamiliar with the CMSA format, read all the rules (except the last part about Championship Points calculations), even if you think you know them already. Only 5-minute IAM images works exactly the same as what you may have seen before. Also know that as we’ve said before, in this case it’s ok if you want to skip some disciplines for some reason.

2- While waiting for the big day, if you want you can practice everything using the same CMSA format you will be tested on. This page offers many sample disciplines, including a few examples of the terrifying “Exam” challenge.

3- Yes it is indeed fine if you just want to do one challenge once a while during your lunch break when you have time and e-mail us after you’re done. But if you want to be more hardcore about the whole thing, you can plan in advance where and when you will be tested and do everything in one day. If you go for that option, ideally I suggest you block out 5 hours in total for the big day. That’s what you will need if you do everything, use all the time allowed for recall, take a 15 minutes pause between each challenge and one longer 30 to 60 minutes break before numbers and cards. It might be possible to do all 6 challenges in less than 3 hours if you really want to cut short on recall time and on breaks as much as possible, but that would be stressful and exhausting. If you’re taking part in the regular section and you don’t want to do numbers and cards, 2 and a half hours should be enough for everything.

4- Do you want to memorize directly on your computer or do you want to print out all the challenges in advance? If you want to print them all in advance, you’ll need access to a color printer. You can scroll down this page and print everything now if you want. A few individuals around the world are insanely good and we need to provide a lot of data for them, but everyone else will need only a fraction of that. For words, numbers and especially images, you might want to avoid uselessly printing three times more sheets than you will need. Very, very few people will need more than 4 pages of images (200 images) and 2 pages of words (200 words).

5- If you’re taking part in the Regular section, remember that you’re also allowed to print out your number and/or card system on an 8.5 by 11 inches sheet (front side of the sheet only) and use that sheet during both the memorization and recall periods. Here’s one sample system you can use if you don’t have one. 

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Last possibly important note before we start: For most events except the Exam, it is now possible to choose to be tested with a format similar to what is being used in IAM (International Memory Association) events. For those who choose this option, regular CMSA scoring rules and time constraints will still apply, but the memorization material will be designed automatically using either standard-memory.com or the IAM training website. You should know that this format can often be more difficult than the regular CMSA format, so it’s probably in your best interest to just stick with the regular CMSA material. However, there are a few cases where using this alternative option might make sense. For example:

  • For IAM Images, the format and rules will be exactly the same and you won’t have to time or correct yourself.
  • For words, you can choose to memorize in a language other than English or French. For names, you can choose to memorize names written with the Arabic, Chinese (simplified or traditional) or Cyrillic alphabet. You might want to check out both Standard Memory and the IAM training website for the different language options offered because it will vary from one website to the other. Only the Exam cramming challenge, a unique CMSA event, will only be available in English or in French. But since this challenge uses a lot of made-up words, we don’t think that having less than perfect mastery of English is that big of a disadvantage. If you want to skip this weird “Exam”, that’s sad but we’ll forgive you eventually.
  • For numbers, maybe you have a lot of experience with the classic 40-digit per line format and you don’t want to have to adapt something new.
  • Your name is Francis Blondin and you can’t use the regular format because you’re the one who prepared everything and that would be cheating.
  • You happen to be some kind of alien and you think you might be able to go for more 500 images in 5 minutes, more than 120 names in 5 minutes, more than 900 digits in 10 minutes or more than 300 words in 10 minutes.

So if there are some events where you think you might prefer to use the IAM format instead, when this option is available, just scroll down to the “Alternative IAM format” section that will be placed inside brackets. When you do so, remember to always make sure to time yourself correctly and to use the regular CMSA rules when correcting yourself.

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Ready for the big day?

Ok so today is the day! I hope you’re feeling great and I hope you slept well the night before.

If you want to be strict with yourself and simulate a real competition, here’s a schedule similar to what you would have faced in a regular in-person competition:

  • 1pm: 5 min images. 30 seconds pause and then 15 minutes of recall.
  • Break from 1:20 to 1:35.
  • 1:35: 15 min exam. 30 seconds pause and then 20 minutes of recall.
  • Break from 2:10 to 2:30.
  • 2:30: 5 min names and faces. 30 seconds pause and then 15 minutes of recall.
  • Break from 2:50 to 3:05.
  • 3:05: 10 min words. 30 seconds pause and then 20 minutes of recall.
  • You might be done now if you’re in the regular section and you don’t want to do the rest. Otherwise take a longer break from 3:35 to 4:10.
  • 4:10: 10 min numbers. 30 seconds pause and then 20 minutes of recall.
  • Break from 4:40 to 4:55.
  • 4:55: First attempt of 5 min cards. 30 seconds pause and then 5 minutes of recall (or 7 minutes of recall if you’re in the regular section). Correction and break.
  • 5:15: Second attempt of 5 min cards. 30 seconds pause and then 5 minutes of recall (or 7 minutes of recall if you’re in the regular section). Correction.

We don’t really care whether you use this version of the schedule or a modified version, but we do encourage you to make a plan and stick to it. Starting a memorization period at a pre-determined time is more difficult than starting whenever you feel ready and relaxed.

Except for cards, you might want to wait until you’re done with everything before correcting your sheets. For images, words and numbers, please don’t just note your final score but also note your attempted score. We want to know! So if you attempted 80 words but mistakes brought your score down to 65, note your score as 65/80. The attempted score doesn’t matter scoring-wise, but it’s interesting to know. For cards, we want to know your time whether or not you got them all right.

Don’t worry about calculating “Championship Points”, we’ll take care of that part. You do know there are no rewards or titles at play and everything is unofficial and honorary right?

Almost all the documents are pdf and you can’t write directly on them if you don’t print them out. You could however just take a sheet of paper or open another document to write down your answers for each question.

Ok that’s enough rambling for now, let’s start your first challenge:

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First challenge – 5 minutes images, 15 minutes recall

To be tested online: IAM images is the only discipline where we at the CMSA use exactly the same format and rules as everywhere else. If you’re used to training online and the IAM Training Software or standard-memory.com aren’t new to you, in this particular case it might be simpler for you to use that instead. Make sure to time yourself correctly if you’re using Standard Memory. In both cases, you might want to zoom in a little to better see all the images. Not sure how it works on your computer, but I simply use the control button in combination with the “scroll wheel” on the mouse. Before you start, you might want to click on the “test page” option to make sure everything is as it should be.]

To be tested offline: You will find the images document right below. There are 10 pages, 500 images in total. If you’re printing them out, I suggest you only print what you will need. So if you know there’s no way you’ll remember more than 200 images, only print the first 4 pages. 3 pages (150 images) should be enough for most competitors. It should be a little easier if you print in color.

Click the link below when you’re ready to access the recall document for images. It’s 10 pages, again only print what you need if you’re printing.

Again as we’ve said you can wait until you’re done with everything before correcting yourself. If you want to correct everything now, the document below should help speed up the process.

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Second challenge – 15 minutes Exam cramming – 20 minutes recall

Ok so this is a unique event and we don’t want you to be confused about the rules and the format, so we’ve added more detailed explanations and examples on this page. If this event is new to you, be sure to take a look at this page before starting to memorize if you want to avoid wasting time and energy figuring out what you’re supposed to do. The page is much more detailed than what you may have read already on the rules page.

Click on one of the two links below when you’re ready to access the exam document. The first link is a 3-page document for competitors in the Regular section. The second link is a 4-page document for competitors in the Advanced section. If you’re printing them, the first page should be in color while the rest should be in black and white.

Then click on the appropriate link below when you’re ready for recall. First two links are for the Regular section, next two links are for the Advanced section. There’s a .doc and a .pdf version for each. If you want to be able to answer directly on the doc without printing, use the .doc version, otherwise you can use the pdf version. If you’re printing them out, the first page should be in color while all the others should be in black and white.

When you’ll be correcting and scoring yourself, the document below might help speed up the process a little bit:

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Third challenge – Names and faces – 5 minutes memorization – 15 minutes recall

Click on the link below when you’re ready to start. We’ve managed to fit everything on just 2 pages. Color is best if you’re printing.

Click on one of those two links below when you’re ready for recall. The first link is a pdf document. The second link is a “.doc” document so that you can download it and write all your answers directly from your computer if you want. Unfortunately since I don’t have Microsoft Word and I’m using some other program, I can’t guarantee that the formatting of the “.doc” document will be as intended (I’ve had some problems with this in the past).

When you’ll be correcting and scoring yourself, the document below should help speed up the process.

[Alternative IAM format: You can, if you want to, choose to ignore the documents above and instead test yourself using either the IAM Training Software or standard-memory.com. If you’re using Standard Memory, make sure to time yourself correctly and then click on “recall online”. If you write the same name more than once, the software will note it as being correct, but under CMSA rules it doesn’t count as a point. Before you start, you might want to click on the “test page” option to make sure everything is as it should be.]

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Fourth challenge – 10 minutes Random Words – 20 minutes recall

Click on the link below when you’re ready to start. 3 pages in black and white. 100 words per page. Most people should have enough with just 1 page, 2 at most. If you’re insane and you think you might go for more than 300 random words in 10 minutes, you can use standard-memory.com to create the additional page you might need.

For recall you can write wherever you want. Or you can print this recall page. First link is pdf. Second link is .doc.

[Alternative IAM format: You can, if you want to, choose to ignore the documents above and instead test yourself using either standard-memory.com or the IAM Training Software. In both cases, make sure, to time yourself correctly and make sure to use the significantly different CMSA scoring rules for words. If you use the IAM Training Software, choose the “Free Training” format, increase the number of words you want to be shown (200 should be more than enough) and enter 10 for “memo time” and 20 for “recall time”. Enter your language. I use 2 for the “grouping” option, but you might want to use 1 or 3, depending on how many words you usually place on each location. Before you start, click on the “test page” option to make sure everything is as it should be.]

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All right so you’re done now if you’re in the Regular section and you don’t want to do numbers and cards. If you’re continuing on, maybe you should take a slightly longer break before tackling the last two challenges.

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Fifth challenge – 10 minutes Numbers – 20 minutes recall

Click on one of the links below when you’re ready to start. You can first click here to see examples of all the possible formats you can choose from. Digits are usually shown in chunks of 12 digits each. Three chunks of 12 per row. For easier reading, we also add a small dot every 2, 3, 4, 6 or 9 digits, depending on how many digits you like to place per loci.

For recall you can write wherever you want. Or you can print this recall sheet. First link is pdf. Second link is .doc. You can print it twice if you’re insane and you went for more than 540 digits.

[Alternative IAM format: If you prefer to memorize your digits in rows of 40, you can choose to ignore the documents above and instead test yourself using either standard-memory.com or the IAM Training Software. In both cases, make sure, to time yourself correctly and make sure to use the significantly different CMSA scoring rules for numbers. Unfortunately, adapting our correction system to the 40 digits per row format can’t really be done in an elegant and 100% fair way. Our deeply flawed solution is to divide each 40 digits row first into one 12-digit chunk, then a second 12-digit chunk and finally a third 16-digit chunk. In the advanced section, each of those blocks is worth 12 points (or 16) if it is perfectly reproduced, 0 point if it is not. On standard-memory.com, you can choose the “customized sheet” option, go into the “grid pattern” section and enter either “12, 12, 16” or “6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 4” or some similar variation if you want those 12 and 16 digits blocks to be shown clearly on your sheet. Do a test first to make sure it looks the way you want.

If you use the IAM Training Software, choose the “Free Training” format, increase the number of digits you want to be shown and enter 10 for “memo time” and 20 for “recall time”. Adjust the “grouping” and “draw lines” options according to your preferences. Again before you start, click on the “test page” option to make sure everything is as it should be.]

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Last challenge – 2 attempts of speed cards – 5 minutes max for memorization – 5 minutes for recall (7 minutes in the Regular section)

All right so you know how that works! You have to use real cards here! If you don’t manage to perfectly recall everything you’ve memorized, make sure you’ve read our rules to count your points correctly (we don’t stop counting points after the first mistake). You have two attempts.

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Uselessly repeating myself again:

  • Please send your results to cmsa@canadianmindsports.com before March 31 Monday April 5 at the latest. Use a pseudonym or just tell us if you don’t want your name to be published.
  • If you’re curious, the honorary results for Round 1 can be seen here. The official results that were achieved the last time we had people competing in person are posted here.
  • Cheaters will be kidnapped and mercilessly tortured by agents of the CMSA secret police.
  • Thank you for taking part! You rock.