Beat the Director and Win  ¨ £1000!


Who is this Director? Barry Philips, Director of local company Legal Island, that’s who! And how can you beat him to win your £1000 prize? Read on and find out!

So who are you and what do you do for a living?

I ‘m Barry Phillips and I guess I would classify myself as an entrepreneur. I originally qualified as a barrister in 1993 and worked first in criminal law in London, before specialising in employment law in Northern Ireland and Ireland. It was during this latter period that I saw an opportunity to provide training and information on employment law issues and twelve years ago I set up a company called Legal-Island in Antrim. Since then we ‘ve grown into the leading employment law training and information company on the island of Ireland and we ‘re still growing. Each year we call on the services of more than 100 lawyers and HR experts to deliver seminars and speak at large conferences, addressing key developments relevant to the world of work.

Tell us about the latest challenge you set yourself.

At the end of 2009 I became really interested in memory and how the mind works. From this initial interest I felt compelled to delve a little deeper, and the more I read on the subject of memory the more interested I became. One thing led to another and here I am today, offering up to 10 prizes of £1000 each to anyone able to beat me at memorising at standard pack of 52 playing cards. We ‘ve called this competition ‘Beat the Director ‘ and we hope to have a diverse group of people enter the competition everyone from business men to teenagers still at school are more than welcome to enter (as long as they meet the entry criteria).

Why did you get interested in developing your memory?

Towards the end of last year, I realised I was forgetting things more frequently than I had done previously, for example, names of contacts I met at networking events, dates and some information I received at meetings. I started reading on the subject and techniques on improving the memory and the mind. This really ignited my interest in the subject of memory. A friend recommended Derren Brown ‘s book, Tricks of the Mind, which provided me with a useful insight into the power of the mind. This book also contained some tips on how to remember the sequence of a pack of playing cards, and from this, the ‘Beat the Director ‘ competition came about.

What method do you use for memorising a pack of cards?

Well, Allen, I really struggled with this at the beginning, and I wasn ‘t confident that it would all come together for me, but the more and more I practiced the easier and more natural it became. I use a system called the ‘location system ‘, which involves 26 locations around the town and placing 2 cards in each of these.

Basically, I have mentally attached an image to each playing card, for example, the ‘Ace of Clubs ‘ is a Policeman and the ‘2 of Clubs ‘ is a toothbrush. I have refined this technique over the last number of months so that I now have 52 images in my mind, all of which relate to a specific card from the pack. Each time I shuffle the cards and begin memorising, I begin my journey around Antrim town (and more specifically my route to work). I then place the cards in each location depending on where in the pack they fall, for example, location number 25 is the level crossing close to the Legal-Island offices. I then tell myself a story about my journey and try to establish why each person (card) is in the location (card position in pack).

Sometimes the cards fall in the perfect order, for example, the Policeman is in the Police Station, but other times it takes a little more imagination than this, like when I have to explain to myself why the Policeman with a toothbrush is standing at my front door!

How will the competition itself work? What is each participant actually expected to do?

Participants will come to the Legal-Island Training Centre on Saturday 26th June, where they ‘ll be able to meet me before the competition starts. During the competition, each participant will receive a randomly shuffled pack of 52 playing cards which they ‘ll have 5 minutes to memorise. When this memorisation time has finished, each participant will be asked to verbally recall the cards in the order in which they appeared within the pack. They ‘ll be independently adjudicated by a member of the Northern Ireland Alzheimer ‘s Society just to ensure the same set of rules are applied to everyone. Up to 10 people will have the opportunity to win £1000 each if they can beat my score. Details on the scoring system can be found at

Can anyone enter?

The ‘Beat the Director ‘ competition is open to anyone who was born in, or is a current resident of Northern Ireland, although any competitor must be 16 years or older by 5th June 2010 as there is a cash prize at stake. To enter this competition, or to see the rules and terms & conditions of entry, please go to There is an entry fee of £30, all of which will be donated to the Northern Ireland Alzheimer ‘s Society, which we feel is a very worthwhile cause, and one which is very relevant to the competition! As I have stated before, everyone falling within this remit is more than welcome to register online and come along to the competition on Saturday 26th June at the Legal-Island Training Centre.

Are you worried about losing lots of money?

This is a risky competition, but one we feel is worthwhile. Obviously, there is the potential to lose £10,000, a lot of money in the current economic climate, however, after lengthy discussions with a number of members of staff, we are happy that this is a good way to both raise awareness of Legal-Island as well as promote the excellent work done by the Northern Ireland Alzheimer ‘s Society. It is the risk and potential reward involved with the competition that makes it so exciting. In a competition, as we all know, anything can happen, so I ‘ll have to wait until the day to see how I perform.

Any memory tips that we could all use?

The ‘Beat the Director ‘ website also contains a link to a memory tools website, and we ‘ve also developed a ‘Memory Card Challenge Game ‘, in which people will be asked to memorise 7 cards in 30 seconds, which will then disappear. The challenge is then to place these cards seen previously in the correct order from the selection given. Sounds easy? Give it a go to see how good your memory is! If any participants get all 7 correct they ‘ll be entered into a draw to win a copy of Derren Brown’s Tricks of the Mind book.

Thanks Barry. All the best!

Imaged credit: Refracted Moments‚Ñ¢.