Thursday, October 23, 2014

Let's get extreme! Again!

Woohoo, great news from the Extreme Memory Tournament!

Hello Extremers, finally some updates concerning next year's competition. Here are the new and sexy facts:

1. Dates: May 2nd and 3rd, 2015

2. Location: Same as last year at the fabulous Dart NeuroScience center in San Diego, CA.

3. New event: 1-minute Images (and no it's not silly Abstract Images). I'll let you guys try and imagine what that might be...more specific details to come soon.

4. XMT training website to go live in December. So you and everyone else can get their practice on.

5. Bumping up to 24 competitors, instead of 16. See #6.

6. Qualifiers: The top 8 competitors from last year will be automatically invited. The remaining 16 slots will be determined by a series of online qualifiers (on the XMT training website). Literally ANYONE can attempt to be qualify for the XMT.

7. Money: The prize fund has been bumped up to $76,000. Oh yes! No travel stipend this year, but everyone who qualifies will get SOME money, with many more incentives during the 2-day competition as well. See HERE for the specifics.

The Basics
•The Competition will be...◦two-day event held on May 2nd and 3rd, 2015

held at the Dart Neuroscience Convention Center in San Diego, CA

sponsored by Dart Neuroscience and Washington University in St. Louis (WUSL)

offering money prizes from a pool of $76,000

24 of the top mental athletes in the world will be competing to ensure that the competition is at the highest level. The top 8 from last year's XMT will automatically qualify for the 2015 XMT. The remaining spots will be determined by qualifying rounds, which will be held over 5 consecutive weeks starting mid-December 2014 (see below).

The competitors will be split up into 6 groups of 4, mixing the best and worst in each group to maintain fairness.

The competition will be run first in group stages (Day 1) and then single-elimination Round of 16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Runner-up Match, and Finals (Day 2).

All matches will be head-to-head competitive style, with competitors facing each other (1-on-1).

All events will be digital. All memorization/recall will occur on a laptop. For XMTs, a laptop may or may not be used (this will be announced prior to the task).

* * *

Qualifying Rounds

Starting mid-December (exact date TBD) and spanning over the course of 5 consecutive weeks, those who wish to compete in the 2015 XMT will have to submit their best scores on to the XMT training website for each of the 5 events. Competitors will have limited attempts and time to complete their BEST performance of the selected event of that week (the events will be the same ones from the competition: Names, Numbers, Cards, Words, and Images). The best 16 total scores over all events after the 5 weeks will be invited to compete in the 2015 XMT. More details to come...

* * *

More on the site, go and check it out!

First thoughts, apart from the general "yay!"... six groups of four, five disciplines, still one day for the first round, we must be doing it with four matches simultaneously. That'll give us 45 rounds, as compared to the 48 we had this year.

How does the seeding work? And will it take into account that I barely whined, moaned and complained at all about ending up as fifth seed for the 2014 event because Ola landed one measly point ahead of me in the recalculated world rankings, and then ending up totally in the Group of Death, and everything. Here's hoping it works out a bit more easy for me in 2015, but then on the other hand I do love a challenge...

Top eight from last year qualify for this one - sorry about that again, James.

And the qualifying tournament is what intrigues me the most, even if I don't have to qualify. I mean, it's really easy to cheat at online score-recording. And if there's a prize for just turning up, surely someone out there will be tempted to qualify dishonestly? There's some very strange people out there, after all - remember Evil Eugene Varshavsky?

Incidentally, how the heck did I remember Eugene Varshavsky's name after five years without even having to look it up? Maybe I'm turning into a name-memorising expert!

The new discipline "images" sounds an excellent choice! When Nelson started talking about adding a fifth discipline, I thought it would destroy the balance between system-memory and more-natural-ish-memory, but if the images is a completely-natural-ish-memory thing, it works! I'm looking forward to it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Well I'll go to the foot of our stairs

There are people out there who think I sound very northern, but they should hear the people I work with now. It's true, Yorkshire is a very different world. I have to get into the habit of saying 'while' to mean 'until', and owt and nowt at every opportunity.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ultimate Master of Memory

There's a sort of wild discussion going on at the Facebook world memory championship group at the moment about the sheer volume of people who can call themselves "World Memory Champion" or the like, and what to do about it. Without wanting to jump in and derail the conversation , I thought I'd blog about what seems to me the main problem - people keeping old titles forever, even if they're not relevant any more.

I've always said that people shouldn't still be called 'Grand Master of Memory' if they qualified for the title in one of the old ways that doesn't even get you more than a little pat on the back nowadays, scores having improved so much. But then, I've always disliked the kind of person who comes to memory competitions just in order to get the easiest possible "official" title and then uses it for their career as a dubiously-qualified motivational speaker or life coach. Really, if I had my way I'd scrap the whole 'grand master' thing - there are lots of mind sports out there where the only title to strive towards is world/national champion, and having this subordinate level of grandness just encourages the wannabe-millionaire-businessman type to come to our nice competitions (as opposed to the nothing-better-to-do-with-their-time memory competition enthusiast, who should be encouraged hugely, of course).

I also don't call myself a World Memory Champion, by the way. If pushed, I'm a former World Memory Champion who isn't all that good any more. I say, current achievements in the last twelve months should be all that counts for any "official" accolades.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Old age

I'm pretty sure I never expected in my wildest dreams to be thirty-eight. I'm really not sure what to do about it now...

Monday, October 13, 2014

The fields of England

The announcer on the train has just said, about half a dozen times, that the next stop is Duffield. It's actually Dronfield, but it's an understandable mistake, since this line goes through all the Fields on its way up north - Duffield (though it never stops there), Chesterfield, Dronfield and Sheffield.

One day, I'll find the time to look up what the Duff, Chester, Dron and Sheff mean...

Memories of China

Well, I've booked my flights to China in December, so it's official, I'm going to the World Memory Championship. I would really like to be able to do some training before then, so we'll just have to see what happens, but everyone should set a reminder in their new-fangled electronic diaries or file-o-faxes for December 11-13 and keep tabs of what's happening to me, British team-mates Phill and Jake (now I'm singing the Adventure Time song) and the rest of the world's competitors. My metaphorical money's on Simon Reinhard.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Trains, and training

I've resolved to write something in my blog every morning on the train to work - it's all about getting into a regular schedule, which is also what I need to do with memory training (although that'll be in the evenings at home, not on a train). Anyway, people* have asked how my new job's going, and the answer is, it's great! As a general rule, I don't enjoy my 'real' job, because I see it as something that mainly exists to finance the things I do for fun, but this one is certainly a lot more enjoyable than my previous one - even the hassle of getting there and back isn't as bad as all that...

I also need to keep up with the plan of learning to drive and getting a car, so as to join the hordes of commuters who complain about the traffic every day, rather than about the trains. Driving is hard, you know.

*Well, one person has asked, and I assume that maybe one or two other people I know are vaguely curious

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Witney and Wisdom

Back home from the national othello championship in Witney, near Oxford. Which is a surprisingly big town for somewhere without a train station. And although my beating-everybody streak didn't quite last all day, I did only lose one game out of the nine in total over the weekend, to Guy, and so ended up playing him (he lost his first game, against newcomer/old-timer Richard) in the grand final!

That's the first time I've ever come anywhere near being in the final at the nationals! And although I was severely burnt-out, brainwise, by that point (how I won my last couple of games before that I'm really not sure) and lost miserably, it's still rather cool. I think I'm going to adopt the German style and call myself the Vice-British-Champion for the next year! So three cheers for Guy, not just for winning, but for organising the tournament and for enlisting seven of his relatives to come and play too! The next generation of othello champions - two young Plowmans (Plowmen?) and four young Brands - all had a great time and were a lot of fun. I also made a concerted effort to learn all their names at dinner (Pizza Express) last night (since they were all impressed by my amazing memory skills and I called Mark 'James' at the start of the meal, not helping my genius reputation), and I still remember them now!