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Remember when Gary Kasparov went up against IBM's Deep Blue computer in a chess match?

This would be the text-message version of that: Today, speech-recognition software maker Nuance Communications sponsored a contest in Orlando pitting Ben Cook, 18, the world-record holder as the fastest text-message typist, against the company's own software.

Cook, an Orem, Utah native, holds the world record for triple-tap typing the following message on a numeric keypad: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality, they seldom attack a human." This, Cook tells me, is the standard line one must learn how to input in order to compete for the world text-messaging championship. Cook earned his world record by typing it on a phone keypad in 42.22 seconds. The previous record holder was a woman from Singapore, he told me.

Nuance's mobile-dictation software, which the company says is in trial with several wireless carriers, captured the same sentence in 16.32 seconds during today's (very short) race. Cook clocked in at 48 seconds.

"It can get a little nerve-racking," Cook said following the competition.

Cook said he doesn't stick to a particular training regimen. He just text messages friends and family. But when it comes to competitive text messaging, here is his advice:

1) memorize the keypad layout of which numbers correlate with which letter
2) learn to text message without looking
3) If you've got your eye on the world record, memorize that line about the piranhas, hyphens and all.

By Yuki Noguchi  |  October 24, 2006; 1:01 PM ET  | Category:  Yuki Noguchi
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