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Four-time winner of the World Memory Championship, Dominic O’Brien can memorize the order of a full deck of playing cards in less than a minute. This ability, as well as easily memorizing 100 items, can be learned when you understand the techniques that Dominic uses.

Dominic O’Brien has come up with an ingenious mnemonic system that is much easier to use than the previous memory system, called the Major System. It is similar in the sense that each digit is assigned a specific sound, in this case a letter:

1 A
2 B
3 C
4 D
5 E
6 S
7 G
8 H
9 N
10 O

Step 1: Create Letter/Name List

Here, you don’t randomly create nouns or phrases based off of the combination of the letters. In the Dominic System, the way to remember 100 items is to convert the digits 00-99 into a two-lettered combination that represents famous or otherwise memorable names.

Here’s the list that I use based off of Matt Vance’s Dominic List (you’re welcome to use this list and modify it to your liking):

Digit Symbol Name
00 OO Ozzy Osborne
01 OA Neo (“the one”)
02 OB Orlando Bloom
03 OC C-3P0
04 OD Oscar Delahoya
05 OE Omar Epps
06 OS OJ Simpson
07 OG Oscar the Grouch
08 OH Oliver Hardy
09 ON Oliver North
10 AO Annie Oakley
11 AA Andre Agassi
12 AB Antonio Banderas
13 AC Al Capone
14 AD Andy Dick
15 AE Albert Einstein
16 AS Arnold Schwarzenegger
17 AG Al Gore
18 AH Adolf Hitler
19 AN Alfred E. Newman
20 BO Pigpen from Charlie Brown
21 BA Ben Affleck
22 BB Bugs Bunny
23 BC Thor from B.C. Comic
24 BD Bob Dylan
25 BE Barbara Eden
26 BS Bart Simpson
27 BG Bill Gates
28 BH Buddy Holly
29 BN Bill Nye
30 CO Conan O’Brien
31 CA Captain America
32 CB Charlie Brown
33 CC Cassius Clay
34 CD Cameron Diaz
35 CE Clint Eastwood
36 CS C.S. Lewis
37 CG Cary Grant
38 CH Charlton Heston
39 CN Chuck Norris
40 DO Donnie Osmond
41 DA Douglas Adams
42 DB Daniel Boone
43 DC David Copperfield
44 DD Daffy Duck
45 DE Dwight D. Eisenhower
46 DS David Spade
47 DG Danny Glover
48 DH Dustin Hoffman
49 DN David Niven
50 EO Ed O’Neill
51 EA Ethan Allen
52 EB Eddie Bauer
53 EC Eric Cartman
54 ED Ed (from Lion King)
55 EE Erik Estrada
56 ES Edward Scissorhands
57 EG Earl Grey
58 EH Ed Harris
59 EN Ed Norton
60 SO Shaquille O’Neil
61 SA Sam Adams
62 SB Sandra Bullock
63 SC Santa Claus
64 SD Scooby Doo
65 SE Santa’s Elves
66 SS Spongebob Squarepants
67 SG Samwise Gamgee
68 SH Saddam Hussein
69 SN Sam Neill
70 GO George Orwell
71 GA Gillian Anderson
72 GB George Bush
73 GC Gary Coleman
74 GD Gerard Depardieu
75 GE Thomas Edison
76 GS Gene Simmons
77 GG Gandalf the Grey
78 GH Goldie Hawn
79 GN Greg Norman
80 HO Santa Claus (“Ho Ho Ho”)
81 HA Hank Aaron
82 HB Humphrey Bogart
83 HC Hannibal the Cannibal
84 HD Humpty Dumpty
85 HE He-Man
86 HS Han Solo
87 HG Hermione Granger
88 HH Hulk Hogan
89 HN Harriet Nelson
90 NO Dr. No
91 NA Niel Armstrong
92 NB Norman Bates
93 NC Nicolas Cage
94 ND Neil Diamond
95 NE Nicole Eggert
96 NS Norman Schwartzkopf
97 NG Newt Gingrich
98 NH Nathaniel Hawthorne
99 NN Nick Nolte

Step 2: Assign Actions to Each Name

Memorizing the name/number combination is only the first step. Secondly, you need to assign each name an action that is characteristic for that name. Below are some examples that I use for some of the above names. You should come up with your own actions so that it is memorable to you.

  • Ozzy Osborne: Biting the head off of a bat
  • Al Capone: Driving in a Model T shooting a tommy gun
  • Oliver North: Covertly Selling weapons beneath his trench coat
  • Hannibal the Cannibal: Eating Fingers from a Stew
  • Santa Claus: Holding Belly saying “Ho, Ho, Ho”
  • Daffy Duck: Bouncing around going ‘woohoo woohoo woohoo’

The Dominic System in Action

Remembering a Large Number

Let’s say you want to memorize a 12-digit bank account number such as 130900838044. The process would be:

  1. Break the large number into chunks of 4-digit numbers
  2. Apply the Dominic mnemonics
  3. Cause the first character from the 4-digit combination to perform the action of the second one and ‘Journey’ the numbers through a memorable, imaginary story.

An example:

First, breaking up the 4-digit numbers gives us: 1309 0083 8044.

After applying the mnemonics we get:
1309 = ACON = Al Capone/Oliver North
0083 = OOHC = Ozzy Osborne/Hannibal the Cannibal
8044 = HODD = Santa Claus/Daffy Duck

Finally, we make the first character act out the action of the second one in the 4-digit combination and journey all the numbers:

Al Capone (AC) is standing on a street corner covertly selling nuclear missiles out of his trench coat (ON), when Ozzy Osborne (OO) comes along and grabs Al’s fingers, rips them off throws them in a stew and eats them (HC). Santa Claus (HO) after seeing this goes crazy and bounces around saying ‘woohoo, woohoo, woohoo’ (DD).

Remember, the more ridiculous the easier it is to remember.

Remembering 100 Items

With the Dominic Memory System, it is very easy to remember up to 100 unique items.

The best way to do this is to peg the item that you’re trying to remember onto the corresponding digit (00 to 99), in some ridiculous way.

For example, if I was trying to remember 50 food items that I wanted to purchase, I would assign each food item to a specific memory slot, covering slots 00 to 49.

If salad dressing was the first item, I would picture Ozzy Osborne (00) performing is action (biting the head off of a bat) in some ridiculous way with salad dressing. Perhaps Ozzy’s on stage and people are throwing bats at him to see him bite their heads off. One person mistakingly throws him a bottle of salad dressing, which he bites the top off of cutting up his mouth and making him spit out the broken shards of glass.

To reiterate from the previous posts, in order to quickly remember something there has to be three things:

  1. The item you want to memorize
  2. A peg where you can place the item
  3. Ridiculous action to ‘weld’ the two together

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