U.S. Memory Champion (and Beloved S.F. Resident) Chester Santos Lost His Title But Remembered His Manners

Well that is a new deal, isn't it?
Back in March, our favorite local memory athlete Chester Santos traveled to New York to defend his 2008 U.S. Memory Championship title. He had been training pretty hard, memorizing decks of playing cards in truly bizarre ways, but apparently, some guy from Grapevine, Texas, simply trained harder, and more bizarrely.

Ron White, a dimpled 35-year-old Navy man, memorized decks while while stationed in Afghanistan, and also while underwater -- in snorkeling gear (pictured). The point of the underwater training, according to Megan Feldman's story published yesterday in our sister paper, The Dallas Observer, was to become mentally tougher. If White could memorize a full deck of cards underwater in little more than two minutes, he could probably do it even faster on land.  

White's training technique echoes the Navy SEAL concept that "the more you sweat in times of peace, the less you bleed in times of war," Feldman wrote in her eloquent, inspirational tale of a fairly ordinary guy who has pushed himself to do extraordinary things.

Santos, a quirky 32-year-old software engineer and part-time magician, described the fierce battle between himself and White, and although he clearly wanted to win, he had nothing but compliments for his adversary. "I didn't feel bad losing to him because he really put the time in, and he deserved it," Santos said.

We recommend for next year's competition that Santos memorize his playing cards while suspended from the Golden Gate Bridge.

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