Sheeeeeeeesh, that was close.
In brief, because I'm just snatching five minutes in an internet cafe before the prizegiving ceremony, I only ended up with 167 words, and then in spoken numbers it turned out I'd got the ninth digit wrong, so I just ended up with my score of 67 from the first trial. When they read the scores out, I shouted "Damn it!", quite loudly. I get stressed at these events. So going into the speed cards, I was 368 championship points behind Hannes, with Simon and Gunther no more than a few hundred points behind me.
That meant I had to go for a fast time - there was no point doing a safe 1-minute pack and guaranteeing 4th or 5th place. So I went for, and got, 31.55 seconds in the first trial. Simon managed a 54.81, Gunther 66 seconds or so and Hannes attempted a time of about a minute, but didn't recall it correctly.
So then it was calculation time, scribbling with pen and paper. Who says you never need long division after you leave school? I calculated that if I didn't improve my time, Hannes would win with a pack in 51.5 seconds. And if I managed a 25-second pack in the second trial, Hannes would need about 36 seconds.
What about Simon, somebody asked me. "He's too far behind," I confidently said. There was a chorus of no-he-isn'ts, and I sat down with my pen and paper again and confirmed that if I didn't improve my score, he could still win with a time of 26.2 seconds. He's done 28-point-something before. So great, more pressure.
Anyway, I whizzed through my second pack in 25.97, and the recall went very smoothly, except that I'd memorised the ace of diamonds twice and the ace of hearts not at all. Drat, I thought to myself, but I bet where I went wrong was right at the end. The last two cards were ace-of-diamonds, jack-of-diamonds, and I only gave them a very quick glance as I was putting the pack down, I must have mistaken a heart for a diamond. Turns out it was the other one, near the start, that I got wrong.
Luckily for me, though, Hannes didn't manage to get his 40-something second pack right - he would have won it if he had. And likewise, Simon, having intended to do around 25 seconds, actually stopped the clock at 20, but didn't quite recall it correctly. So I win the world championship, slightly by default rather than brilliance, but even so, wowee. This has been the most thrilling competition I've participated in - I think it's replaced Kuala Lumpur 2003 as my all-time favourite.
I feel a little dissatisfied, still, because I wasn't quite at my best and I could easily have blown it. But I didn't, and woo, I'm still the World Memory Champion! Woo!
Now I need to go to the prize ceremony and then to bed for the next week. See you all when I wake up.