British memory championship attracts worldwide competitors for 'Mental Olympics'

A competitor concentrates on memorising rows of playing cards Credit: PA

London's Science Museum will be brimming with brain power as contestants from across the world take part in the UK Open Memory Competition. In the year of London 2012, organisers are calling it the 'Mental Olympics', with events running over two days. Competition is fierce this year as former 8 times World Champion Dominic O'Brien has come out of retirement to bid for the title.

There are ten disciplines testing memory and speed skills involving names, faces, historical dates, numbers, words, abstract images and playing cards. None of those taking part were born with particularly good memories. Organisers say they've developed their skill by learning special techniques and training for many hours - just like any other sport.

The UK event is seen as a warm up for the World Championships which will be held in London in December. The Science Museum was chosen as a venue to encourage some of the thousands of young people who visit every day to learn memory skills and then try them at home.

Tony Buzan, the man who invented Mind Mapping, is President of the World Memory Sports Council which oversees the Championships. Tony, who is a successful author and educational consultant, regularly gives tips on how to remember everyday things:

  • Names - associate the person with someone you know or a celebrity, eg David Wolf would be David Cameron in a wolf outfit

  • Shopping - create a story to visualise your shopping list: you buy milk, it flies out of your hand, smashes into the eggs, eggs seep over the bananas etc

  • Phone numbers - translate numbers into people so 1 is A, 2 is B, 3 is C and so on. So 23 is BC, stands for Bill Clinton. To get numbers in the right order, create a journey bumping into your celebrities along the way.