Memory Disciplines/ Scoring

Canadian Memory Championships Disciplines:

The rules for the Canadian Memory Championships are changing for 2020. We will be posting sample memory disciplines shortly to help contestants get a sense of the memory challenges that this year’s Canadian Memory Championship will bring.

In a nutshell, the same memory disciplines will be featured but will will have a single period of memorization and recall and will allow contestants to go back and forth from the memo table or  memo wall to their recall table. Because there will be a single period of memorization and recall, expect that the time for a former 5 minutes memory discipline will be doubled to 10 minutes. We’re also optimizing the amount of memorization meaning that when you have memorized and recalled all the data, you just stop and the arbiters will mark your time.


2019 Canadian Memory Championships Rules (These rules are now retired):

Pour ces règlements en francais,

New for 2018: To try and get more beginners interested in the sport, we have decide to modify the scoring method when any score is below 30 points for Random Numbers and / or for Random Words. What we will do then is to recalculate the score but taking out only 2 points per mistake that would normally cost more points. The contestant’s maximum score is then limited to a maximum of 30 points.

Random Words

(A French version of the random words will be made available at the competition provided that it is requested by a contestant at least 2 weeks before the start of the competition at )

This discipline involves 15 minutes of memorization of a list of random words (spelled as they are found in the dictionary, with a ratio of about 80% concrete nouns, 10% verbs, and 10% abstract nouns) followed by a 30 minutes recall period. The list is made of words that are mostly short and well known.

There will be 400 words spread on 4 sheets made of 5 columns of 20 words each. One point is given for each word correctly recalled. A spelling mistake that does not change the meaning of the word costs only one point. (Memorize, crib but then recall, crab will cost you half the point in the column but memorize: cemetery and then recall cemetary will cost you only one point.) Any missing or wrong word costs half of the points in a column.

During the memorization, there will be a single time reminder provided when there is only 5 minutes left.

Each contestant must begin at the first column and no column can be skipped.

Each column of 20 words is corrected individually.

Recalled words must match their correct location on the grid or they are considered wrong: For example, if a single word is missing from the first column but a blank has not been left where the missing word should be, all the remaining words will be off by one and all those remaining words will be considered wrong with zero points being the result, even if all the remaining words are recalled correctly.

On the correction sheets, the last column is corrected up to the last recalled word of the contestant. The blanks after this last word are not considered as missing words and no points is lost for those blanks but this rule is specific to the last column only.

In case of a tie (two contestants having the same number of points), we will look at the columns where they were errors and determine the winner by finding the contestant who has the most correctly recalled words in those columns.


Speed Cards

At the moment, we have only English decks of playing cards. If you want any other language, then please bring your own decks of  cards. Contestants can bring their own cards but they must be approved by the chief arbiter before the start of the memorization of the deck.

In this discipline you have 5 minutes to memorize the order of cards of a randomly shuffled deck of playing cards followed by  5 minutes to recall the deck by re-arranging another pack (in new pack order) into the order of the memorized deck.

Contestants who believe they will memorize their deck of cards in less than 5 minutes must inform the arbiters prior to the start of the test.

There are two separate attempts and we keep the contestant’s best score.

For the memorization, a red deck of cards will be used. For the recall, we will provide a black or deep blue cards. We use the Bicycle brand.

The two decks will be on the table. The black/deep blue recall deck will be set in new pack order. The contestants may look at these recall cards and even change their order if they want. The red shuffled deck must remain face down on the table.

One minute of silent mental preparation will be followed by a voice signal: “Neurons at the ready!” This means there is about 10 seconds left before the start.  At that time, contestants may pick up their red pack and hold it in their hands face down until the “Go!” signal.

When there is only one minute left, the arbiter will say, “One minute remaining.”

When the time is up, the arbiter will say, “Stop memorizing!” The cards must then be immediately put face down on the table. Contestants who continue to memorize cards after the end of the recall period will have their memorization attempt disqualified.

Contestant must memorize silently.  Any undue noise created by a contestant may have his or her memorization attempt disqualified at the discretion of the arbiter.

After the memorization of the deck, the arbiters will carefully move the red deck, face down, near the far end of the table, or away from the contestants. Once this is done, there will be 10 seconds of mental preparation time, at which time the contestants may hold the black/deep blue deck in their hands.  Then the arbiter will say, “Go!” or  “Start re-arranging the decks!”  When there is only one minute left to the recall period, the arbiter will say, “One minute remaining”  and when the time is up, ” Stop re-arranging the cards!”  At that point, the re-arranged deck should be put face down on the table.

For the correction, the red pack will be put on the table side by side with the black/deep blue pack and the top red card will be turned over.

Contestants can request that the arbiter matches the top red card with the bottom black/deep blue deck. Contestants may also request that the arbiter starts by matching the bottom red card with the bottom black/deep blue cards. It is therefore vital that the contestants know at which end of the black/deep blue recall deck is located the recalled card that will match either the top or bottom red card when the red deck is face down.

Cards are counted up to the first mistake. If the 7th card is incorrect, the score of the contestant will be 6 cards.

If there is any error in the deck, the recall time will be marked down as 5 minutes.

In case of a tie between two contestants, we will use the result of the contestant’s other Speed Cards attempt to break the tie.


 Speed Numbers (5 minutes)

The objective:

To memorize as many random digits (1, 3, 5, 8, 2, 5, etc.) as quickly as possible and then recall them perfectly.

Contestants have one attempt and possibly two, time permitting.

1. Computer generated numbers will be presented in 2 rows of 12 digits each by 28 lines per page.


  1. Contestant have 15 minutes to recall the numbers.

2. Contestants must use the Recall Papers provided.


1. 12 points are given for every complete row that is perfectly recalled.

2. For every completed row of 12 digits that has a single mistake or omission in it, 0 points are awarded for that row.

3. If the last row is incomplete but there are no errors up until the end then one point will be awarded for each correctly recalled number.

4. If two attempts were held, we keep the contestant’s best score.

5. Whoever has the highest score is the winner of this event.

In case of tied winning scores, the arbiter will look at the memory athletes’ lines in which there were mistakes or omissions and for which no points were given. For every correctly positioned digit 1 tie-braking point will be given. The contestant with more of these tie-braking points wins.


Names and Faces (5 minutes)

The objective is to memorize as many full names as possible along with the faces associated with those full names.

1. Memory athletes are given black and white photographs of different people (head and shoulders shots with no backgrounds) with a first or given name and a last name printed underneath each picture.

2. Faces are of a wide range of ethnic groups. Names are to be drawn randomly from a Canadian Phone book.

3. Names are assigned to faces randomly.

4. An effort will be made to select from the phone book a mixture of international names from different languages from all continents. First and Second Names shall be combined entirely at random (e.g. a person may have a Chinese first name and a Western surname) and assigned to faces at random. Only the first name will respect the gender of the person in the picture.

5. Hyphenated names, such as Deborah-Austin, shall not be used as they can be considered as two names in some cultures i.e. China.

6. Pictures will be provided in 3 rows of 3 per page on sheets 8’5 by 11.


1. Memory athletes will be handed out the black and white photographs again in the same format as the memorization paper but with the names removed and the pictures in a different order.

2. Contestants must spell the correct name (first and/or last name) beneath each photograph in the correct order, first name or given name followed by surname or family name.

3. Contestants have 15 minutes for the recall.


1. One point is awarded for every correctly spelt first name.

2. One point is awarded for every correctly spelt second name.

3. Zero point is awarded for every phonetically correct but incorrectly spelt name (e.g. Nathalie instead of Natalie.)

4.There are no penalty if only the first name or the surname is recalled, however it must be clear that the recalled name is either a first name or last name. Contestants must use the first part of the divided line for the first name and the second part of the divided line for the last name.

6. To get the total points, the points received for each correct name will be added up.

7. Any point will be disallowed for any name that is written down more than once.

8. Accents are shown but there is no penalty if they are not memorized and are missing.

7. In the case of tied winning scores, the winner will be decided by looking at the photograph to which the contestants have incorrectly assigned names – the contestant with the fewer incorrectly assigned names wins.

( We provide a one page sample of this Names and Faces Discipline at  )


Scoring at the Canadian Memory Championships:

3 points are awarded for a first place, 2 points for a second place, and 1 point for a third place in each of the four disciplines.

11 thoughts on “Memory Disciplines/ Scoring

  1. I’m not completely sure if I understood the rules for random words. Can you please read the following and correct me if I’m wrong:
    – A perfectly recalled column of 20 words would be worth 20 points.
    – An almost perfectly recalled column of 20 words with two spelling mistakes (that doesn’t affect the meaning of the word) would be worth 18 points.
    – 19 perfectly recalled words and one missing or wrong word in the same column would be worth 10 points.
    – 18 perfectly recalled words and two missing or wrong words isn’t worth any point.
    – 8 perfectly recalled words on the last column are worth 8 points.


    1. Hi Francis,
      Thanks for your questions. I have pasted your questions and given the answer below it.

      A perfectly recalled column of 20 words would be worth 20 points.
      – An almost perfectly recalled column of 20 words with two spelling mistakes (that doesn’t affect the meaning of the word) would be worth 18 points.
      – 19 perfectly recalled words and one missing or wrong word in the same column would be worth 10 points.
      Yes, provided that all the perfectly recalled words are all in their right spot.
      Say you miss the third word without leaving that spot blank but instead you put the correct 4th word in the 3rd spot and continue out of order that way, well, if you do this it won’t matter if all the rest has been correctly memorized: you get zero point. If, from that point on, all the words on your recall sheet are off by just one word, you get zero point for all the following columns. Keep in mind that each word out of order is considered a wrong word.

      – 18 perfectly recalled words and two missing or wrong words isn’t worth any point.
      In a column, yes.
      – 8 perfectly recalled words on the last column are worth 8 points.
      Yes, provided that there is no blank space in-between the recalled words and provided that the recalled words begin at the top of the column.


  2. I’m having some trouble replacing the cards in the right order in less than 5 minutes. So I was wondering, does the recall time start immediately after memorization time is up? Or do we have a few seconds or minutes in between?


  3. Sorry I just noticed that my question was already answered: we have 10 seconds after memorization before recall time.


    1. That’s right, Francis. When the memorization stops, we take a few seconds to make sure everyone has turned their cards face down. Then the packs are carefully put away to the far end of the table, or possibly put in a tray. When all this is done (and that should take less than a minute) the 10 seconds count down to the start of the recall period will begin.


  4. Hello Simon,

    For the 2017 championship, there will have 4 disciplines. Speed cards, Randon Words, Random numbers and Faces? Please confirm. Thanks.



    1. Yes, that’s right Eric. So far we have only made one small change in the format for speed numbers. Instead of 20 digits per line, we will have only 12. We have adjusted the rules accordingly. No other changes are planned at the moment. See the resources page for the details.


  5. Hi,

    Are you able to write on the sheet for numbers during memorization? Just to help divide the numbers into chunks within the lines?




    1. Daniel, if what you want are lines to chunk your numbers with, then I would suggest you download a copy of the sample number test on this website (resources tab) and then use a transparent sheet together with a marker to mark the transparent sheet according to your purpose. Transparent sheet with lines on them for chunking numbers will be allowed. Please note that we are introducing a new numbers format of 12 digits per line. It can be found in the resources tab.


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