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The origin of the Memory Game can be traced to a 12th-century Japanese game of shells called “Kai-awase” (貝合 “shell matching”).

A full kai-awase set consisted of 360 pairs of clamshells – each pair bearing the same image. The sources for these images were poetic, seasonal, literary, etc., and depicted everything from flowers to noblemen peeking into a room. The inside of a shell was first cleaned, then gilded and painted. Only the outside of the shell retained its natural look.

With the invention of paper and the printing press, cards replaced shells. Memory Card Games experienced a ‘renaissance’ in Europe from WWII, and became known under various names, including Concentration (1940), Mix and Match, Match Up, Memory (after 1946), Pelmanism, Shinkei-suijaku, PEXESO (1965), or simply Pairs.

Generally recognized benefits of Memory Games:
  1. Socializing and having fun enhances overall well-being
  2. Improves brain functions, such as attention, concentration, and focus
  3. Helps prevent some memory-related illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s & dementia
  4. Improves of visual recognition and attention to detail, especially in children
  5. Combines fun with learning for both adults and children

Possibly the only game
where a child will repeatedly and mercilessly
defeat adult players
without the element of chance, simply by applying their nimbleness-of-mind and sponge-like memory.

Specific benefits of our Memory Card Game:

  1. A great SOUVENIR to bring home from British Columbia and the Yukon
  2. A thoughtful GIFT for just about anyone, any age.
  3. Box design makes attractive coffee table DECOR
  4. Ninety cards can make one big HOUSE OF CARDS
  5. Enjoyable for anyone interested in nature, hiking, history and travel – of any age.

Ever have trouble finidng a good souvenir or gift on your travels?
We have.
The first step to making things better is to make better things.
We hope we have.
You may not be able to travel, but you can still buy a souvenir.

The most common way of playing PAIRS is to mix all cards face down and arrange them in a grid. Players then flip two cards face up over each turn in search of a matching pair. If a player finds a pair, they get another turn. The object of the game is to find the most pairs.

PAIRS is best played by 2, 3, or 4 players and takes about 25 minutes with the full set of 90 cards (45 pairs). We suggest that the very young and those not so young start playing with fewer pairs. Warning: Team play with 6 players can get rowdy. You can also play solo to test/train your memory.  The game is fast-paced, competitive and requires strategic thinking.

Hi. I’m one of the creators of this game and I’ve been playing Memory Card Games since the age of 5, when my family emigrated to Canada. My grandparents would send me PEXESO – sheets of matching cards which my older sister would cut into squares. I remember being good at the game despite being the youngest in the family. I remember  cards featuring dog and horse breeds, castles and capitals of the world and my favourite cartoon figures. As the game was fun, learning and remembering was effortless and joyful. To this day, I still know that poodles don’t look at all like bulldogs, gazelles are not antelopes, Caracas and Calcutta are on different continents, Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay, there’s lots of castles in Bohemia and my favourite horse is still the Clydesdale. Memory works in mysterious ways!

So when COVID shut down our travel business, we had to ask ourselves “What now?!”. While self-isolating in our ‘motorhome bubble’, we spent September on a road-trip exploring the natural beauty and history of Yukon territory and northern British Columbia, and playing European Memory Card Games each evening with our daughter. In the heat of the game, one of us suggested Memory Card Games should become more available in North America as they are in Europe and Asia, where they’ve become a standard learning aid for children, an opportunity for all ages to play a quick, easy game and a popular souvenir and gift.

Since that first spark, we’ve been on fire, working full time on this project, without pay, investing our own savings, covering living expenses with COVID subsidies from our Canadian government.  So here we are with our first game. Hurray!

All photos featured in our game were taken by us – the founders of Pairs Unlimited.

We are avid RV travellers, hikers and passionate photographers.

The photos represent a selection of personal favourites – places we love and want to share. 

The Cards – quantity, size and quality matters:

  • 90 cards: 3×3”(76x76mm), 0.04”(1mm) thick
  • High-resolution colour photos
  • Glossy varnish on both sides
  • Location titles on each card  

The Guidebook – 20 pages in colour:

  • Facts and a bit of history about each location
  •  How to Play includes the dizzying “Spot the Pair”. 

The Box – simple, elegant design:

  • Sturdy 1500gsm cardboard
  • 157gsm art paper. Glossy finish
  • Telescopic lid for ease of opening
  • Worthy of any coffee table