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These Mental Wizards Will Absolutely Blow Your Mind

March 20th, 2017

Think you can accurately calculate the sum of 321, 566, 382, 197, 913, 728, 543, 789, 604, 420, 235, 950, 296, 111, 826, 642, 457, 703, 518 and 333 in your head?

If you need help, ask five-year-old Sithy from India. She did it in eight seconds as the digits literally flashed before her eyes.

Sithy, along with 161 of the world’s most renowned card counters, mental calculators and speed-readers, participated in the International Memoriad Games, which were held November 8 through 10.

The what? The who?

The International Memoriad Games, of course! Similar to the Olympics, it’s an event held every four years where mental athletes from 27 countries attempt to cement their names in the history books. This time it took place at the Western Hotel in downtown Las Vegas and sponsored by Zappos.

Thirty-two categories were in play, ranging from flash anzan, eight-digit multiplication, mental calendar dates and 30-digit binary numbers to speed-reading books and memorizing a shuffled deck of cards.

To reiterate, this was a memory competition, so the use of computers, phones and pen and paper was, well, prohibited.

Scott Flansburg, known as "the Human Calculator," is the chairman of both the Memoriad World Mental Olympics and the Memoriad World Mental Sports Federation. In 2001 and 2003, Flansburg broke the Guinness World Record for adding a randomly selected two-digit number (38) to itself 36 times in 15 seconds. Wow! That’s faster than what someone could even do with a calculator, hence the nickname.

Now retired from organized competition, Flansburg says he has the utmost respect for these mental athletes, some as young as Sithy, who spend countless hours practicing their craft.

These are the best of the best," said Flansburg. "We’re here to have a great time, share what we know and show off a little, too.

Prize money and medals were awarded to the three best scores in each of the 14 categories, with $1,500 given for gold, $750 for silver and $500 for bronze.

In total, 10 world records were broken during this competition. Notable winners included Alex Mullen of the United States for memorizing a deck of playing cards in 17.69 seconds; Jeonghee Lee of South Korea for adding ten 10-digit numbers in two minutes and 20.79 seconds; Christian Schafer of Germany who memorized 241 different number shape combinations; and İbrahim Murat Kaplan of Turkey who read 1,246 words per minute with 65% comprehension.

As for Sithy, she may not have won her category, but at least she can add those 20 numbers long before it took you to read this article. (Calculators down — the total is 10,534.)

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