Sunday, March 26, 2017

Oh for crying out loud

I just spent absolutely ages, maybe as much as 20 minutes, searching around the internet trying to remember which student hall of residence I stayed in the last time I spent a week at the MSO in London - I didn't see fit to mention the name on my blog and searching the usual websites didn't come up with anything just down the road from JW3 as I knew this place was. I finally identified that I'd booked it in 2014, searched through my emails and found that it was Hampstead Residence, belonging to King's College - but it turns out they've sold it now and it's not available to rent a room in the summer any more. Now I'll have to book somewhere else.

Assuming I get round to it, I'll detail where I'm staying in another blog entry, along with the extensive preview of the MSO I'm going to write any day now. Promise.

Monday, March 13, 2017

French memories

That was a fun competition! The scores are online here and more-or-less accurate - it was an exciting battle all the way through between Simon and Johannes, with me a fairly distant third but still producing the kind of decent results I was entirely happy with, considering how very long it is since I even sat down with a real pack of cards or a piece of paper to memorise. And our gallant band of French memorisers all put in great performances, particularly Sylvain Estadieu - he's going to be a force to be reckoned with before long, I'm sure.

I'll see if I can get into some kind of regular training and start competing again - this one has achieved its aim of getting me in the memory mood, I think (old-fashioned memory, that is; I've been in the Memory League mood for months). The only problem is that the only memory championships in this country are run by me nowadays, and travelling to other places costs all that money I'm trying not to spend right now...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Other important things about the competition

The lift up to the competition room (on the first floor of the Espace Moncassin) doesn't go 'ding' like normal lifts, it plays a tone of exactly the same pitch and length of the first note of Sloop John B by the Beach Boys. So that's my mental soundtrack to the championship.

Also, I can confirm that there is such a thing as the Eiffel Tower - I saw it with my own eyes last night. It lights up after dark, too!

Saturday, March 11, 2017


The most important thing I learned today - on the French dubbed version of the Simpsons, the Duff beer logo is blurred out, because it's an actual real beer now, and so contravenes product placement laws, even in episodes made when it was just a fictional thing. That's weird.

Anyway, there has also been the first day of the French Open Memory Championship! The one in 2008 attracted only two French competitors, a French-only competition in 2015 drew in eight, but this year's event breaks all the records - nineteen entrants in total, 13 of them French! That's enough for a national Memory League event!

It's the first old-fashioned memory championship I've competed in since the UK Championship in August 2015, and my complete and total lack of training shows, but it's still been fun! All the new French competitors have identical dark hair, glasses and beards, so I'm not at all to blame for not remembering who's who, but it's a two-day competition so I'm sure by the end of the day tomorrow I'll be familiar with them all.

I'll write a full report just as soon as I can get round to it - meanwhile, I've got a French dub of the Simpsons to distract me - most characters' voices are imitations of the American originals, but for some reason Krusty is totally different; he's got a sort of deep, booming voice. Foreign countries are strange and different.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

And the whole world loves it when you're in the news

News websites the world over are running memory-related stories today! It's fair to say that 99% of them have latched onto a soundbite that "scientists have said something about memory" and used it as an excuse to fill a column with the usual blurb about the subject (here's the BBC's typical example), but there is some genuine Science behind this one - Boris and his gang's investigation into the brains of memory competitors, including me. Here's the actual science-stuff. I don't understand a word of it, but it scores points for not being illustrated by a picture of Basil Rathbone. Or some other thicko.

Friday, February 24, 2017

And speaking of memory

When I booked my flights and hotel tonight, I booked them all for next weekend instead of the weekend after, had to cancel everything and start again, and thought "I'll write something witty about that on my blog when I write about going to this competition..." And then I forgot to mention it. They shouldn't let people with terrible memories go to memory championships, it's a disgrace.

I love Paris in the springtime!

I haven't really mentioned it before, but 2017 for me is dedicated to living economically and paying off the vast debt I accumulated over the course of my last "career break", as I call those times when I spend a year and a half not bothering to work for a living. Because it took me longer than I expected to get back into a proper job that pays me decent money, I've ended up with a lot to work off before I can get back to financial liberty and not need to work any more. But now I'm working for an undeservedly high salary and living in a perfectly nice cheap bedsit down the road from the office, I'm in a position of earning much more than I spend, allowing me to devote huge sums of money every month to paying off my credit cards and loans and things.

And because I really have been good about not spending money to excess just lately, I've decided to reward myself by spending money to excess, and going to Paris in a fortnight's time for the French Memory Open 2017! Blog-readers with good memories (I'm sure there must be some of you who fall into that category) may recall that the first ever memory competition in France happened in 2008, and I was there. Now, nine years later, there's another open championship in that much-neglected-memorywise country, and I'll be there again, along with the cream of European (and American) memory talent!

I've done no training, of course, except for a whole lot of Memory League rapid-fire stuff, but this is deliberate, in a way. Going to a competition, as I've said before, is the best way to get me in the mood to practice for the next competition!

I really must try to see the Eiffel Tower this time. I've been to Paris something like four times before, and never actually seen the thing. For all I know, it doesn't really exist, but since everybody asks me if I've seen it every time I come back home, I ought to make the effort this time round.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Memory sports 2017 is go!

Yes, this year's memory competition season is in full Korea (career), with the weekend's competition in Seoul now completed, and Johannes Mallow the champion - it was a thrilling event, he fought off not just his usual arch-rival Simon Reinhard, but the latest threat to emerge from Ulaanbataar, the sisters Munkhshur and Enkhshur Narmandakh. Six people did a pack of cards under 30 seconds!

I wrote a full account of it, or as full as can be done by reading the scores and everyone's Facebook and Twitter posts, which might appear on at some point in the future. Check it out, I promise it won't contain any terrible puns like the one I started this blog entry with.