The opening ceremony for the 22nd annual World Memory Championships was held in Croydon Town Hall last night.
The championship will see 104 entrants from 33 different nations compete over the next three days, with the overall winner being announced on Monday.
Contestants compete in 10 different disciplines from speed card recall, number recall and historic dates memory testing.
England team member Hugh Shields explained: “It is based on the decathlon in athletics. The highest score you can get in each discipline is one thousand, and that is based on the world record. The contestant with the most points in all disciplines wins.”
The man to beat this year is reigning World Champion Johannes Mallow from Germany, who holds the record for number recall at a staggering 364 consecutive numbers.
Commenting on his prospects for this year, Mallow said: “I think I have a good chance to win, but there are still a lot of good competitors, like Jonas Von Essen from Sweden. There are good competitors from England and Germany too.”
He added, “I’m excited to come to Croydon, it is a place I have never been to before. We went to a few bars last night and everyone seems friendly.”
Among the contenders flying the flag for Britain will be Mohammed Afzal, an IT consultant from Scunthorpe, Hugh Shields, an accountant, magician and writer, and Jake O’Gorman, a personal trainer from Bethnal Green.
The opening ceremony also welcomed a Phillipino team, the second biggest in the competition, who were able to make the journey despite the country being ravaged by hurricane Haiyan just three weeks ago.
National champion Mark Anthony Castaneda opened the event, ironically forgetting his lines during the competition pledge.
Destination Croydon Executive and event organiser, Liz Sheppard-Jones, said that after four months of planning behind the scenes she was excited the event had finally arrived.
“This is a positive thing for Croydon, a place that is often short of positive publicity.”
She added: “I hope an event like this will show to people how good Croydon can be as a great destination for conferences and things like this.”