• Germany's news in English
 

'I was a lazy student, that's how this started'

Alex Evans · 12 Dec 2013, 12:02

Published: 12 Dec 2013 12:02 GMT+01:00

Whilst the individual championship title went to Swede Jonas von Essen, Germany's three-man team of Konrad and team-mates Johannes Mallow and Christian Schafer beat 31 other countries and around 120 rival brain-boxes to defend Germany's title as world memory champions in Croydon at the start of December.

Konrad also holds the world record for remembering names and birthdays - 21 people in two minutes. 

The teams were pitted against one another in events such as memorizing numbers, names, words and birth dates.

This year's competition had been tougher than usual, Konrad told The Local. “In recent years it was often pretty easy for us to win, because few other countries had a good overall team, just one or two strong members," he said. “But this year Sweden, Mongolia and the Philippines all had really great teams – it's getting harder all the time."

Germany still came out top overall by a wide margin and Konrad's individual win in the "remembering names" category – in which contestants are given a file of headshot photos with fore- and surnames to memorize and repeat – contributed to their storming victory.

'I was just a lazy student'

The feats of name memory are made possible by special techniques he has mastered, but there is no deep mystical knowledge involved, he insisted. "These are not secret methods – the Greek rhetoricians knew about them 2,000 years ago,” he said.

And his original motive for mastering his memory was far from winning international competitions. "I started just before going to university,” he said. “I had heard about the techniques and I just wanted to make university life as easy as possible," he said.

"I was actually just lazy, and that's how I discovered this whole thing," Konrad added.

The researcher, who studied physics and IT at Dortmund's Technical University and Reading University, uses different types of thought association to remember long strings of data.

For the name memory event, Konrad constructs a picture in his head and then links the picture to the person.

Another trick is to associate the data with items in a story. When he recounts the story he can then remember which bits of the data are associated with each parts of the story.

But the hardest discipline for him is an event based on holding long sequences of numbers in your head for a whole hour. "It's especially difficult because you have to hold such a high level of concentration for so long," he said.

Konrad works at Munich's Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry researching the effects of memory training on subjects. "I teach the methods to a student, they have to practice them half an hour a day for six weeks, and I investigate how much they improve," he explained.

The research comes alongside selling training materials, including his book "Superbrain: Memory training with a World champion" – and preparing for his Spring 2014 seminar tour, for which tickets for a day-long seminar will cost €390 per person.

Story continues below…

Since growing up in Hattingen, near Essen in western Germany, Konrad has made television appearances in several countries.

And in 2006 he took the helm of MemoryXL, which his website describes as the largest memory competition club in the world, aiming to spread awareness of the little-known brain training sport and, "similarly to the German Chess Association, unite as many memory technique enthusiasts as we can under one roof."

"We're active across Germany and have members in six other countries," Konrad said. "We promote memory-sport, run championships and events…training seminars and beginner tournaments," he added.

"I always try to create as much publicity as possible for the sport," he said.

READ MORE: German Nobel Prize winner yearns for home

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex Evans (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Anti-Islam groups rally across Europe
Several thousand Pegida supporters turned up in Dresden. Photo: DPA

Anti-Islam groups rally across Europe
16 hours ago

A march by Germany's anti-Islamic organisation Pegida drew thousands to the eastern city of Dresden on Saturday on a day that saw rallies across Europe in support of the movement.

'Germany must take fewer refugees' - Catholic church
Cardinal Reinhard Marx said the response to the migrant crisis should not solely be a matter of "charity but also reason." Photo: DPA

'Germany must take fewer refugees' - Catholic church
18 hours ago

The German Catholic Church called for a reduction in the influx of refugees arriving in Germany, saying the country cannot take in "all the world's needy," according to an interview published on Saturday.

German FA launches action against Beckenbauer
Beckenbauer (L) with suspended FIFA president, Sepp Blatter. Photo: DPA

German FA launches action against Beckenbauer
23 hours ago

German football chiefs on Friday launched a lawsuit involving Franz Beckenbauer, world governing body FIFA, two former German federation (DFB) presidents as well as the former head of adidas as part of the 2006 World Cup scandal.

Auschwitz guard, 93, to face trial in April
Barbed wire fences at the Auschwitz death camp. File photo: DPA

Auschwitz guard, 93, to face trial in April
1 day ago

A 93-year-old former SS guard at the Auschwitz death camp will stand trial in April for accessory to murder, a German court said Friday.

Terror raids in Berlin and NRW
None of 'Isis arrests' were for plotting terror attack: police
A photo released by police on Friday of one of the suspects. Photo: Berlin Polizei

None of 'Isis arrests' were for plotting terror attack: police
1 day ago

Police confirmed to The Local on Friday that none of the people taken into custody on Thursday were arrested for planning an act of terrorism.

Journalist 'groped' in front of live camera in Cologne
Esmeralda Labye. Screen shot: RTBF

Journalist 'groped' in front of live camera in Cologne
1 day ago

A Belgian journalist has said she was groped while on live television at the Cologne Karneval.

Germany struggling under massive asylum backlog
Refugees queuing outside a refugee home. File Photo: DPA

Germany struggling under massive asylum backlog
1 day ago

German authorities are struggling to process hundreds of thousands of asylum applications, the head of the country's refugee office admitted Friday, even though a record influx of migrants was finally slowing.

Customs seize 'stinking' ape skull from traveller's luggage
Photo: Hauptzollamt München/DPA

Customs seize 'stinking' ape skull from traveller's luggage
1 day ago

Customers officers did a double-take at Munich airport last week when a suitcase belonging to a man arriving from Thailand turned out to contain the reeking skull of an unfortunate ape.

Cologne opens Karneval on edge after sex attacks
Security in Cologne. Photo: DPA

Cologne opens Karneval on edge after sex attacks
2 days ago

Cologne opened its annual carnival Thursday with ramped-up security to prevent a repeat of the sex assaults that marred New Year and triggered a debate about Germany's ability to integrate asylum seekers.

How Trump planned Europe's tallest tower in Frankfurt
Photos: Michael Vadon, Kiefer/Wikimedia Commons.

How Trump planned Europe's tallest tower in Frankfurt
2 days ago

Fifteen years before Donald Trump rocketed to the forefront of the Republican fight for the White House, he had his sights set on an ambitious project in Frankfurt.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
Culture
10 essential words you'll need when visiting Cologne carnival
Technology
Army presents new camo pattern that can fool night vision goggles
Health
Disabled people explain what life is like for them in Germany
International
How to vote in the US election when you live abroad
Business & Money
The small town planning to get rid of small change
National
Top five inventions of Germany's 'patent king'
National
Pensioner crushed in hospital machine
Politics
Could Bernie Sanders get elected in Germany?
Society
Most German conservatives back gay marriage: poll
Politics
'Russia aims to weaken the EU. The refugee crisis is an opportunity.'
Gallery
Eight wonders of the world's biggest toy fair in Nuremberg
National
Islamists and Neo-Nazis both ready for violence, say spies
Frankfurt
Drunk-driving cop tries to escape through toilet window
Berlin
How Berlin Bowie fans paid tribute with art on ice
Police fight rumours they've been hiding truth on refugees
Berlin
Brave passengers grab man accused of shoving woman under train
National
Software bug means German jets can't fly at night
Rhineland
First suspects arrested after Cologne sexual assaults
Politics
Berlin to North Africa: take deportees or give up aid cash
Lifestyle
10 ways German inventors have made the world a better place
Society
Town bans male asylum seekers from swimming pools
Travel
Tourist sues Airbnb after finding hidden camera in German flat
Society
Polls show Germans fear the country can't manage refugees
7,106
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd