A few precisions about our scoring system for cards

Our scoring system for cards is a little bit complicated and for this reason, we wouldn’t suggest that a large international event like the IAM World Memory Championship try to copy it exactly. We’re willing to deal with this complexity in order to make sure that no matter what type of mistake you made, a decent attempt will always be rewarded with a decent score. The scoring system is already described in full on this page, but we thought a few additional explanations might be helpful to some people, especially if you’re practicing at home and you want to know how many points you would have received with our rules.

If you’re pretty sure you got almost everything right, just flip the cards over and count your few mistakes. Let’s say you memorized all 52 cards in 3 minutes and 42 seconds, but you made 2 mistakes. On the final scoreboard, we will write “50 cards in 3:42”. Being faster only gives you more Championship Points if you also managed to get everything right, so in this case your time would only be noted to satisfy our curiosity.

But what if you made more than just a few mistakes? In those cases, we suggest you spread out your memorized deck and your recall deck next to one another so that everything is visible. Let’s see an example with just 21 cards. The 21 cards above are those you attempted to memorize while the 21 cards below are from your recall deck.

Here the 6 of spades and the 4 of diamonds were swapped, but everything else is correct. In most memory competitions around the world, the correction stops at the very first mistake. That means only the first 2 cards would have been counted here. In a Memory League competition or game however, every correct data counts. Here that means you would get a score of 19. In most cases, and in this one, our scoring system works just like Memory League. You get a point for every card you recalled correctly and that’s it. Seems simple enough, but there are a few exceptions that we will examine now.

Let’s see another example:

Here the 4 of spades at the beginning was skipped over and placed toward the end. Otherwise, it’s all exactly the same. So 19 cards correct again? Not quite. With most scoring systems, technically everything after the second card is incorrect. The 6 of spades should have been the fourth card, not the third. The 7 of clubs should have been the fifth card, not the fourth. And so on and so forth with all the other cards. Both the classical scoring system and the Memory League scoring system would give this deck a score of just 2. In our competitions however, we call this a “displacement mistake”. If either the competitor or the arbiter notice this mistake, they can just choose a new point from which to start counting again. A 4 cards penalty is applied every time such an accommodation is needed. So here the competitor would get a score of 15 (19 cards correct minus the 4 cards penalty).

One last example :

Here there are many mistakes and almost nothing is correct after the 10 of clubs in the middle. The competitor would receive a score of 10 for the 10 cards that are correct among the first 16. After those first 16 cards, we would stop counting after 4 consecutive mistakes. Although the queen of hearts at the very end is exactly where she should be, it may have been just luck and we wouldn’t count it. After 4 consecutive mistakes, we only start counting again if we can find 4 consecutive correct cards.