Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Mork

That title is meant to represent 'more New York', only phrased in an entertaining way. I've got a feeling it didn't really work.

Anyway, to continue my random reminiscences about my holiday, Ronnie White, who was comfortably the best of the competitors there and unquestionably deserved the win, has some interesting training techniques. Wanting to prepare for the inevitable distractions you're likely to suffer while memorising at the US championship (there's more hustle and bustle there than at any other competition I've been to), he memorised packs of cards in unusual locations, with his nephews and nieces climbing all over him and, most brilliantly of all, underwater. Seriously, he says - with plastic cards and a snorkel. There really should be a world record for underwater memorisation. There probably is, actually. There's a world record for everything nowadays.

Also at the US Championship was Tom Groves, a British memory competitor from the very early days of the sport, who now lives in America. Tom has the honour of being the first person to describe the basic principles of memory techniques to me, and being the first person (some time later) to convince me that they actually do work. I decided to give it a go, and the rest is history. So it was good to see him again, and I did my best to persuade him to come out of retirement. I'm becoming the old man of memory sports, and we need some of the real old-timers back in the game!

Outside the competition, I bought volume two of the complete Popeye comic strip, which I'd been looking for for quite a while. 1931 was a bad year for Castor Oyl - having been downgraded from funny-man to sidekick, the former star of "Thimble Theater" was finally dropped altogether from the storylines in favour of Popeye - but a great year for comics in general, and Popeye and Olive in particular. Popeye wearing a skirt and being mistaken for a particularly ugly old grandmother is a highlight.

It's not a New York reminiscence, but Steven Gerrard's incomprehensible scouse mumblings after a game always make me giggle. I'm sure he's making some valid and interesting points, but I can never make out a word he's saying.

But back to NY, and the US Championship takes place on the 19th floor of the Con Edison building. The funny thing about it is that the lifts go from floor 1 to 11 and then straight up to 19. The contents of floors 12 to 18 are cloaked in mystery. I suspect that's where they plot to take over the world.

Also, Men's Health want to do a "stylish, sophisticated photo shot" of me, to accompany the interview they did the other week. With a real photographer with his own website with pictures of Bafta winners and everything!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There certinly is a wolrd record for everything these days Ben, as pointed out by Britain's First ever Chess Grandmaster Ray Keene OBE and creator (along with Tony Buzan) of a competition you may very well be familiar with(The World Memory Championships):

Here it is: