Former prime minister recalls days presenting Estonia's premier memory show

Siim Kallas on Monday's edition of 'Ringvaade'.
Siim Kallas on Monday's edition of 'Ringvaade'. Source: ERR

Former prime minister, European Commissioner and current Reform Party MP Siim Kallas says that his memory games-playing days are over. Kallas was a presenter on the long-running and fondly-remembered 'Mnemoturniir' TV show.

"I've never thought about it, but maybe got a lot of work done at the time. It isn't that interesting any more, though," Kallas told ETV magazine show "Ringvaade" Monday evening.

Kallas, who presented "Mnemoturniir" from 1976 to 1989, said that he never consciously trained himself in memorization.

"Fate handed me a show where I had to organize memory games, then from time to time I was invited to take part in competitions, since everyone thought I knew everything, but that was not the case," he went on.

That said, repetition was the most effective method of retaining information, Kallas, who is the father of the current prime minister, though only in moderation.

"You could say [memorization] came somehow by itself; I had no special training, although [TV journalist of the era] Hardi Tiidus taught me some tricks – for instance how to list all the U.S. states."

Kallas said he prefers now to watch "Mnemoturniir"'s present-day descendant, "Eesti Mäng", together with his grandchildren, adding he was certainly not the smartest of company thes days. "A lot have time has gone by. If you ask me about all the singers and actors from the present day, I can't say I know all of them. The era has changed."

As to the original Hippocampal heavyweights from "Menmoturniir" days, Kallas recalled that there were both those with a seemingly insane capacity for retaining facts and those who had very little such memory, but instead were blessed with incredible logical reasoning faculties, and an ability for deducing or inducing an answer from what facts they had available to them.

The original "Ringvaade" segment (in Estonian) is here.

The radio version of "Mnemoturniir" continues to be broadcast on Vikerraadio over half a century before it began.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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