Names & Faces The competition starts with each competitor getting a packet of random photos (headshots) of strangers, ranging in race and ethnicity. The names beneath them are randomly chosen as well (ranging in country origin). The difficulty with this event has become the extreme difficulty of names - they can get pretty nasty. For us Americans, some of the eastern European names with weird accents and markings can kill us; same with Chinese, Indian, and Arabic names. What adds to the difficulty is that you can also get mixtures of first names from one country with a last name from another - it can get pretty ugly. But that's all in the spirit of competition, right? While "Bob" might be easy for me to remember and "Zhao" rather hard, a Chinese competitor might consider the opposite to be true. Anyways, you get 15 minutes to memorize as many names as you can and then 20 minutes to recall. During the recall, you have to write down as many first and last names on a different packet that has the same headshots (jumbled up), but no names. 1 point for each correct first and last name (2 possible points per person). -.5 points for a wrong name, and +.5 points if a name is spelled out phonetically correct.
The current world record is 173 names. Doesn't sound like much, but ever since the standards changed a year or so ago (making the names a lot harder), the world record has been tough to get super high....could you memorize "muhammodd guntheirssun" , "Xiao Luzenshleigenzor", or "magnussmeyer weidelsteinzhu" easily? yeah, it's hard (not that hard, but still hard). I'm pretty good at names...at the USA competition I hit 160+ names....in practice I've gotten over 200. But those are American names. I'd love to hit 130-150 at the WMC.
30 minutes to study and memorize a seemingly endless list of binary digits (that's just 1's and 0's). The numbers are laid out in rows of 30 digits per line. It's actually a lot easier than it might seem because you can convert bigger groups of 1's and 0's into decimal numbers (1-10)....some people take a row of 30 and convert it into one single image! Pretty impressive. To me the hardest part is keeping focus on such a visually boring set of numbers for such a long period of time. By the end of the 30 minutes, everything I look at turns into a 1 or a 0, haha. Scoring is simple. For each correct row, you get 30 points. If you make one digit error on a row, you get 15 points. More than one digit error per row scores you 0.
The current world record is 4,140 digits, held by Ben Pridmore. Yeah.....and what's more impressive about that record is that it hasn't been broken since 2007....Ben just set the bar too frigging high. I'm not too good at this event (which is stupid because I'm a computer scientist), so I am just aiming for 2000 digits. Decent enough. I don't really care to ever be good at this event. In my opinion, it's dumb and pointless.
The final event for the day is another long one. 1 hour to memorize as many decimal digits as possible (0-9). Rows are 40 digits long, with 500 digits per page. Again, this event is really all about maintaining focus for long periods of time. It definitely takes a huge mental toll. Scoring is similar to Binary, where each correct row gives 40 points. One digit mistake in a row, gives you half (20), and more than one digit mistake gives you zilch.
The current world record is 2,660 digits. Pretty crazy. Breaking 1000 is pretty incredible in itself. My goal is 2000. Did I mention I love numbers?