1st Event Names and Face I wrote down around 103 names and ended up with a score of 98. Which is far below my near 130 last year but…well…heck. I wasn’t here to win. Just have fun! Then the scores were announced. Wait a minute? Nelson scored a 63!! That is…well…a very bad score for Nelson. Could the pressure of defending a title be getting to him? Is he cracking under the pressure? Holy Cow! Maybe I do have a shot at winning this. I almost ran to the bathroom and took the Doritos and Gummy Bears out of my underwear. Maybe I should get serious! Then it was announced the scores were wrong. They judges had left a 1 off Nelsons score. He received a 163 and 1st place in the event. OK….Gummy Bears are staying in….

 Hannan Khan was second with 158 points, and Michael Glantz, the US record holder, came in third with 150 points.

 2nd Event 5 Minute Numbers I went for 136 digits and got them. A very safe score, but I hadn’t trained this event in 1 year. I was actually very pleased with a score of 136. Nelson on the other hand set a new US record at 305. Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME!!!!? That isn’t just a respectable score on the US level. That is a respectable score on the WORLD level. As a patriotic American, I am proud Nelson got this score. It inches our country up just a little more in legitimacy on the world stage. At this point all I could think was, ‘Go USA and Doritos are SHARPER than I thought.’

 3rd Event Poetry Going in I was ranked 4th and I knew the Hershey kids would do well in this event. I knew my ranking was going to fall after this event. Sure enough the Hershey kids and Nelson did great. Hannan and Michael tied at second with 213 points. Nelson scored 233. My score was 15th best if you can use the word ‘best’ after 15th.

I wish I had the scores for the Hershey students, Brad, T Michael and Nate. They deserved to be recognized but I don’t have access to those (or I can’t currently find them)

 4th Event Speed Cards The 1st trial I went for an extremely safe score of 2 minutes 2 seconds. I knew  a score of 2 minutes it would be enough to pull my rankings to the top 8 and the top 8 make the ‘playoff round’. I knew well in advance I wasn’t breaking any records. My focus was just going for the playoff round. They didn’t announce Nelson’s score so I knew he hadn’t broken a record. For the second trial I pushed myself a little faster and got a score of 1 minute 47. Very pleased. I probably memorized a deck of cards only 15 times in the previous 12 months (if that). Nelson scored 1 minute 27, which ironically was the time of the record I set in 2009. I was very proud of Brad Zupp who scored 2:06. He worked hard and that is a great score. I expect him to get under 2 minutes in 2013.

I do believe T Michael had set a person goal to get under 3 minutes and scored 2 minutes 59 in this event.

 The top 8 who made the playoffs were:

Nelson Dellis
Noah Ehrich
Sophia Hu
Brad Zupp
Michael Mirski
Ron White
Hannan Khan
Michael Glantz

Just before the playoff rounds a reporter approached me and we were talking about Nelson’s great scores. I said,’Yeah he is doing great and he won last year.’ The reporter said,’He is going to win this year too.’ Without a split second hesitation the man with Doritos crowding his….well….said, ‘We don’t know that. We don’t know that at all. He is doing well but this is anyone’s tournament.’ The reporter awakened a bit of my competitive nature. I was in no way willing to concede the day. Not yet. Not at all.

 Spoken Words Event This is where my lack of training almost eliminated me big time.  I was only able to memorize about 75 words. Right before the memorization time ended I went back and did a quick ‘test’ of myself saying all the words. 3 words of the 75 I was totally blank on. I didn’t have them AT ALL. I went back and made them stronger and then time was up. We walked out on stage and randomly sat in chairs. The chair you sat in would ultimately determine which words you would verbalize. As fate would have it the 3 I didn’t know backstage were 3 of the words I had to verbalize! What are the odds? I only got them because of that quick random check back stage! That was CLOSE! Sophia Hu, Noah and Michael Glantz were eliminated in this round.

Just for grins they asked us to keep saying the words. We only went about 6 or 7 words and they passed the microphone to me. I didn’t know it!! It was ‘JAM’ but my mind was blank. I joked and said, ‘Texas Rangers’. If we were still in the actual competition, I would have been eliminated right then. I missed elimination by 7 words! YIKES!!

 Tea Party The tea party event eliminated me in 2008 and was known as one of the toughest events in any world wide memory competition at that time. 5 people will walk up and say – name, dob, city, state, zip, phone #, type color of pet, name of pet, 3 favorite hobbies, year/color of car, make/model and 3 favorite foods. It eliminated me in 2008 and I was determined it wouldn’t ever again. I devised a strategy of using 5 separate homes for each person with the 2nd ‘stop’ in each home the DOB, the 3rd stop in each home the ‘city state’, 4ththe zip code and so on. In 2009 I didn’t miss one in this event (you get 3 strikes). In 2010 I didn’t miss any at all and in 2011 I missed just one. This year again, I was perfect and so were others. I am not sure if my strategy was adopted by the rest of the competitors after I won in 2009 but I have a feeling it was because scores started improving dramatically and maybe that was one of my contributions to this sport. This is no longer a dreaded event. For me it is just a time to relax.

This year the tea party got Brad Zupp. He was sitting in the seat before me and 3 times he said 75% of the answer and missed the last part. Each time he would get a ‘strike’ and then I would say the correct information. I have no doubt Brad will master this event.

4 of us advanced to the final round:





In 2011 in came down to Nelson and I and I was eliminated after I said the final card I knew around card #71. So what strategy do I go for this year? Do I attempt to memorize 2 decks in 5 minutes or go for 70ish, hope Nelson goes for 104 and that forces an error.  I had never done 2 decks in 5 minutes. Ever. Period. Zero. So to try it now I believed would have forced an error. So I went for what I could do. Ironically, I told myself to do better than last year so I went for 75 cards. Only after the tournament and I counted in my head did I realize I once again had memorized 71!!! Talk about a personal mental barrier for myself. I may not train hard for 2013 but I refuse to stay stuck. I will get passed this personal barrier. It is my new tournament goal.

 Hannan and Michael were eliminated after 1 deck and then….

 Have you ever had Déjà vu?

Have you ever had Déjà vu?

 I have been here before…. and this didn’t end well the first time.

 On the other hand, I couldn’t help but smile. I was sitting on a stage at the national memory tournament with gummy bears and Doritoes in my underwear. We got to the 65th card and I saw a truck in my head and for some reason my brain said, ‘Ron we don’t have a card assigned to a picture of a truck.’

So I guessed the 7 of clubs which is a snow mobile and I thought maybe I just confused it in my head. Right before I made my guess I quoted a George Strait song and said, ‘This is where the cowboy rides away.’ It was……


I had no business winning this year and I didn’t. But I had every intention in the world of just going in and having fun and I had loads of that. The 2011 loss was a hard loss for me to take. I lost my title, my record and I had spent months training. This year for me was about fun and I accomplished that goal.

But as I reflect on the events of yesterday, I smile because of how well I did in comparison to the training I put in and I don’t second guess myself because I had to

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