Tschirnart to compete in World Memory Championships

Published 3:50 pm Friday, December 11, 2015


Lance Tschirnart will be the first to say he does not have a photographic memory.

Yet, his ability to recollect has led him across the globe to Chengdu, China, where he will compete in the World Memory Championships.

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Tschirnart, 27, lives in Austin and is the son of Port Arthur residents Mike and Becky Tschirnart, owners of Chick-fil-A Mid-County.

Tschirnart said he became interested in memory recall three years ago, and has worked every day since then to hone his skill.

“I had heard the best people competing in the world did not have a natural gift for memory — that it is just a skill learned,” Tschirnart said Thursday, where he was studying at the Port Arthur Public Library.

Tschirnart uses memory techniques to help him recall a seemingly impossible amount of information such as the order of a deck of playing cards, random numbers, or fictional list of historical dates, just to name a few.

Like most memory competitors, Tschirnart thinks in pictures, he uses visual images to help him recall just about anything. Those images serve as memory triggers.

“It’s easy to learn, but difficult to master,” he said.

Tschirnart expects to be competing against about 500 others on the World Memory Championship stage.

He’s confident he’ll do well, he said.

After all, this is not his first competition.

In March he set two national records at the USA Championship in New York. Two months later, in May, he competed in the internationally ranked Memory Athletes Association Tournament in Los Angeles, where he set five more records.

This week, on Dec. 16, 17 and 18, Tschirnart will compete in 10 different disciplines, hoping to become the world memory champion, or at least break more records.

“It is fulfilling and fun in the sense that it is a skill you are doing, but it is mentally draining,” he said.

At the World Championships, he will be competing in longer versions of memory recall.

Those competing will have one hour to memorize 30 decks of cards, or as many as possible in the time limit.

Tschirnart hopes to beat the world record of 28 decks.

His favorite is to memorize fictional historic dates such as “the first day sheep landed on the moon.”

Memory competitors will have five minutes to memorize as many of the dates as possible.

In Los Angeles, Tschirnart memorized 111 fictional dates to set a national record.

More time is spent writing down the memorized data than memorizing it, he said.

Tschirnart is in the process of establishing a web site to help others learn the same memory techniques he has mastered.

“People are amazed to think they might be able to remember that much,” he said. “It is superhuman stuff that everybody can do.”

E-mail: sherry.koonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews