Memory trainer Kingsley Chew met an insurance agent who tried to sell him a policy that covers 36 illnesses.
He glanced at the list and five minutes later, he rattled off all the 36 illnesses! Impressed, the agent became his memory student.
In another incident, Chew bumped into three old friends. As he was rushing off after a short chat, he asked all of them for their contact numbers.
A few days later, they were shocked that he actually called them.
“They thought I had asked for their contacts out of courtesy and had no intention of calling,” he says.
Besides, Chew did not jot any of their telephone numbers. Unknown to them, he had memorised their numbers!
Late last year, Chew, 28, participated in the 25th World Memory Championship in Singapore; there were 232 participants. He performed very well and was awarded the title of international master of memory. At this event, 91 people were awarded this title, out of which 78 are from China. To date, there are less than 300 international masters of memory worldwide.
Chew also broke the Malaysian memory records in a few categories (one of which required him to memorise as many faces and names within 15 minutes).
Last year, Chew ranked No. 80 in the world 100 ranking of people with excellent memory. In Malaysia, he is ranked No.1 for his memory skills.
To achieve the title, Chew explains: “A competitor has to memorise correctly more than 1,000 digits within an hour, 10 decks of cards within an hour, one deck of cards in two minutes or less, and accumulate more than 3,000 championship points.”
Chew had come this far only after six years of memory training. In 2010, he attended a two-day memory course for the first time.
In 2014, he participated in his first memory championship at the 23rd World Memory Championship in Hainan, China, to gain experience. The championship is under the preview of the World Memory Sport Council based in London and founded by Tony Buzan, father of mind-mapping.
A year later, he competed at the 24th World Memory Championship in Chengdu, China.
“During the Chengdu championship, I realised I needed to improve my competitive memory techniques if I want to break into the world’s top ranking,” he says.
Last November, he took a month-long training course in Guangzhou, China, to achieve his goal.
Since 2014, Chew has also competed in the Singapore and Hong Kong Open memory championships.
Locally, he participated in the Malaysia Mental Literacy Movement (MMLM) Utar Mind Competition three times. He emerged third in 2010, champion in 2015 and runner-up last year (in the dates and events category). He also encouraged and tutored his students to participate in this competition.
In 2015, five of his students won awards in the competition. Last year, two of his students emerged as category champions.
Chew is secretary of the Malaysia Memory Sports Organization (MMSO) set up in 2014. It is an organisation to raise awareness and to stimulate public interest in memory sports.
In June last year, MMSO held the first Malaysia Open Memory Championship in Penang. The event attracted 100 participants, out of which 50 were from overseas. This July, MMSO plans to hold the second Malaysia Open Memory Championship in Kuala Lumpur.
Prior to his memory course, Chew had stress-related problems, similar to those faced by students before examinations.
“I would burn the midnight oil to study and try to remember as much as I could. But after I applied memorisation techniques, studying became less stressful,” he says.
In 2014, he started KMC Brain Training Centre in Taman Mega Jaya in Cheras.
He had a difficult time as he only had an enrolment of eight students. However, he did not give up.
When his first batch of students performed well in their studies, word spread. The following year, the student enrolment tripled.
To date, Chew has taught memory techniques to more than 200 people. Other than students, he also teaches sales personnel, teachers and medical practitioners. He only accepts children aged 11 onwards. His oldest student was a 63-year-old Chinese sinseh.
Having a good memory helps in studies, Chew insists.
“The key is to apply the right memory techniques. Studying becomes less stressful if a student can absorb and recall what he learnt instead of memorising by hard,” he concludes.
The Paper’s People is a weekly column which introduces Malaysia-based everyday folk, doing what they love. If you have any person to recommend, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.