Pen-and-ink, Sunday morning
Well, that was irritating. Having got passable-ish scores in dates, words, speed numbers and names on Saturday, I found myself tussling with Gunther and the unexpectedly even-more-awesome-than-last-year Christian Schäfer for second place. Hannes, who was in a league of his own all weekend, was miles in front.
So it came down to speed cards, and although I calculated that I could win with a time of 20 seconds or so if Hannes completely failed to remember anything, I decided to just go for a fast-ish time and finish second. Losing to Christian (who sadly can't go to China because he's got to go to school) would be embarrassing, and losing to Gunther would make all those Mentalists-watchers say "Ahh, the arch-rival beats you again!"
First trial went faster than I expected, I stopped the clock at 22.77 seconds, and nearly-but-not-quite recalled it correctly. Second time round, I played it safe, took 35 seconds to look through the pack, and was nowhere NEAR remembering it! After I put the pack down and stopped the clock, I realised that I'd memorised the last two images as 'murble burble' or some such gibberish, and had no idea what they were supposed to be.
I think this is three memory championships in a row in which I've failed to memorise a pack of cards on both attempts. Speed cards used to be my forté, it's really infuriating.
So, in the final analysis, Hannes won by miles and miles and miles, knocking me off the top of the world ranking list in the process. Gunther came second, just ahead of Christian, and Boris overtook me in fourth place. Lots of world records, as usual (by contrast, there are always very few world records broken at the world championship) and we now know who's the hot favourite for Guangzhou.
I can't remember the last time I came fifth in a memory competition. 2005? 2006? 2006 was also the last time I was beated by a schoolchild (Joachim). 2008 was the last time I wasn't number one on the ranking list. I need to work on my memory, it seems.
[Right, now this is me writing on Wednesday night, back in the present day. I'm less grumpy now than I was when I wrote this, and I can correct a few technical errors - Hannes's new world record in 30-minute numbers was 1284, not "1240 or so" (this is the fault of the German language for saying four-and-eighty, not the fault of my memory), Christian's awesome performance in Cambridge wasn't "last year", it was only back in May, the last time I came fifth (actually, sixth!) in a championship was Germany 2006, the MemoryXL championship that wasn't technically the German championship, where I was utter rubbish.
I have, however, been training quite a lot since I got home, particularly in images and binary, which I think need the most work. But if I'm to have a chance of winning the WMC, I need to practice the hour-long disciplines, and when am I going to have the time? It's Children in Need on Friday and I'm answering phones until two in the morning, so I'll spend the whole of Saturday in bed, and next weekend it's either the Othello Christmas tournament or a Christmas Fayre playing ukulele with the club, depending which I decide to do (incidentally, it's still November next weekend. What's with all the Christmas things?) and the weekend after that, we'll be half-way through the World Memory Championship, so it'll be a bit late for practice then.
Hannes is my tip for the WMC - Simon (who came 7th in Heilbronn) seems to be out of shape too, but you never know who might turn up on top form, including multiple Chinese memorisers on their home turf. Bet on me to finish second - I'm more optimistic now than I was a couple of weeks ago, but I'm still being realistic.]