Sunday, February 5, 2012

Philippines Bids To Host World Olympic Memory Championships

The Philippines hopes to become the site of the prestigious World Olympic Memory Championships featuring the world's best and brightest mental athletes in the world. The world's most comprehensive test of memory, founded by Tony Buzan and Chess Grandmaster Raymond Keene OBE and run by the World Memory Sports Council, was inaugurated in 1991 in London.

London hosted the first 11 stagings of the yearly organized competition of mental sports where participants memorize as much information within a given period of time, according to Philippine team coach Almario Marlon Bernardino. Kuala Lumpur hosted it in 2003, Bahrain in 2007 and 2008 and Guangzhou for the last two years. EngLand played host to the competition for the other years in its different cities, namely London, Manchester and Oxford.

Philippine Memory team manager Aurelio "Reli" de Leon said Vice President Jejomar Binay has expressed full support for the hosting by the Philippines of the mental sports competition when he brought the squad to the Vice President in a courtesy call at the Coconut Palace last January.

"Vice President Binay was impressed by the performance of our team which captured the silver medal in Guangzhou last December," said De Leon. "He gave us instructions to do what we can in hosting the event here in 2013 and we'll do our best to get the Job done." The Philippine team was composed of Johann Randall Abrina, Roberto Racasa, Christopher Carandang, Mark Anthony Castaneda, Axelyancy Cowan Tabernilla, Erwin Balines and Mark Anthony Adarlo with De Leon as team manager and assisted by head coach Bernardino Jr. China won the gold medal in the event that brought in 121 competitors from 18 countries, including the United States, EngLand, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Africa, India and Canada.

Aside from the silver medal in the team category, the Philippines claimed a bronze through Abrina in the Historical/Future Dates class. Abrina, 29, is a University of the Philippines sports psychology graduate from Wack-Wack, Mandaluyong City. In the World Olympic Memory Championships, there are 10 classes of competition -- One-Hour Numbers, 5-Minute Numbers, Spoken Numbers, 30-Minute Binary Digits, One- Hour Playing Cards, Random List of Words, Names and Faces (world record: 195 names), 5-Minute Historical/Future Dates, Abstract Images and Speed Cards (world record: 21.9 seconds memorizing the order of a shuffled deck of 52 playing cards).

Bernardino, a Philippine and U.S. chess master, said the silver medal in the team event and the bronze medal in the Historical/Future Dates class prove that the Filipino is at par with the world's best memory athletes. "With ample training and preparation, we can even become world champions," he added. "We believe that memory games is what the Filipino needs to have a better quality of Education. We are very optimistic that memory games will bring honor to our country in future international competitions."

Team member Castaneda, 23, became the first Filipino grandmaster of memory. The Rizal Technological University graduate student memorized a 1,140-digit number in an hour en route to his grandmaster norm. Castaneda memorized a deck of cards in a minute and 10 seconds for his second grandmaster norm. He also memorized 13 decks of cards, equivalent to 676 cards, in an hour for his third grandmaster norm. Another member, Balines, 23, took two grandmaster norms. The Polytechnic University of the Philippines graduate student memorized a 1,380-digit number in an hour for his first norm, then a deck of cards in a minute and 10 seconds for his second.