Thursday, November 12, 2009

London blogging

Written last night in old-fashioned pen-and-paper style:

Evening of day 0. Got to London okay, even enough time to drop my bag off at my cheap-and-nasty hotel before making my way to the expensive-and-nice hotel on the Strand for the registration and competitor briefing. I also stopped in a couple of shops along the way, looking for a towel - unsure whether the cheap-and-nasty hotel was nice enough to provide towels and shampoo, I decided to bring the latter and not the former. A strange decision, but it seemed sensible at the time, as my big towel wouldn't have fitted in my little rucksack. Interestingly, gift shops don't seem to sell Union Jack towels, the M&S on Edgware Road doesn't sell towels, and the useful-household-things shop on the Strand sells pretty much everything except towels. So I bought a cheap 3-pack of teatowels and made do.

Nothing too exciting happened at the briefing. The Japanese crew insisted that I sit right at the front of the room, next to the aisle, but I would probably have sat there anyway (the top ten competitors get big desks at the front, the rest crowd into smaller partitioned cubicles at the back - it's a good turnout, probably record-breaking, and although the room is too small, it's not excessively so). No Tony Buzan, who's not been well lately, but who will be there tomorrow. There was a Ray Keene, which is unusual - his work for the WMSC is normally so far behind the scenes that a lot of competitors don't know he exists. Otherwise, it was Phil, Chris, Jennifer and Dominic with a very impressive computerised presentation explaining the rules. The projector broke down halfway through, but otherwise it went without a hitch, and there weren't even very many questions. No arguments, either!

The most interesting part was the revelation that Su Ruiqiao has requested 4000 digits in Hour Numbers and 680 digits in 5-Minute Numbers. The world records are 1949and 405 respectively, so this seems a little excessive, to say the least. And 680 is a very specific big number to request, don't you think? I suspect mindgames. Or an Andi-Bell-esque approach of trying to memorise enormous amounts and getting 60% of it wrong. We shall see.

Day 1 brings Abstract Images, Binary and Hour Numbers. Gunther is very good at all three and usually expects to take an early lead. But we shall see about that, too.

Scribbled this morning while waiting for Images to start:

Day 1 - Bakerloo line closed, but I managed to get here on time. Left my hat in the hotel room and didn't realise until I was half way there. The usual opening ceremony, Tony's standard speech. Ruiqiao, having picked the seat behind me, was late, but still in time for the Images. Chuanwei keeps moving desks, he's settled somewhere in the middle of the room now. We're just waiting for the start...

Live blogging right now:

It's lunchtime, I've escaped the camera crews for a little while and headed straight for the internet. I'm a geek. After Tony's exciting announcement that in 1994, scientists predicted that nobody would ever be able to remember 30 spoken numbers etc etc, we got into Abstract Images, followed by Binary. Both went pretty well for me, I think I got fairly decent scores, but the fun comes when you see how everybody else has done. Nobody has been going around boasting that they've shattered world records, but nobody seems terribly depressed about their performance either. Time to head back to the Strand Palace to hear the first scores and then see what I can do in Hour Numbers. I would really like to beat 2000 in that, but I never quite seem to achieve my best in this one. We shall, as the saying goes, see. Keep reading for the latest!

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