Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hillsborough is a very hilly place

I hadn't considered it before, despite it being my ancestral homeland, but the 'hill' part of Hillsborough is probably because there's lots of ups and downs there. Anyway, it was to the Hillsborough area of Sheffield that ten othello players flocked this morning for the latest regional tournament. I flocked rather later than the others, not having got out of bed in time to get the early train, and also didn't bring my othello set as I'd promised because I couldn't find one of the boxes of discs (no good ever comes of tidying up your flat for the benefit of Japanese TV crews). I didn't think that'd be a problem, though, since we always have enough boards, but it turned out that this was the one tournament where we didn't.

Lately we've become very uncoordinated at getting boards, clocks etc to the people who can bring them to the next event - this is almost certainly Geoff's fault for moving to Denmark and leaving the uncoordinated British to their own devices. Still, we improvised with three good boards, one rubbish titchy Character board and one i-phone othello app. There also weren't any transcript sheets, so we weren't able to preserve our games for posterity.

I arrived in time to find Iain waiting for our game - we played our game inside while the rest of the gang were out in a conservatory where the light was too bright to see anything and the temperature was somewhere in excess of 100 degrees, and I ended up winning. I'm not sure how, exactly, but it's the end result that counts. That's the first game Iain has lost in a regional this year, after draws with me in Oadby and Ian in London.

The tournament moved inside before everyone melted, to the main room of the pub - we weren't paying anything for the venue, but did have to put up with the general background noise. I proceeded to lose to Roy and Steve, as I generally do far more than I really should, while Ian drew with Iain again to head the leaderboard at lunch. After that, I beat Kali, wiped out Ali again, as I also did in London, and then followed it up by beating Ian in a completely awesome game that I wish I'd written down - I made lots of moves of the kind that common sense dictated would eventually go horribly wrong but never did. It was either a moment of inspired genius or the kind of game that would make the othello program wZebra swear at me and call me an idiot. Then I came alarmingly close to losing to Rob but somehow managed not to, to finish with five wins out of seven, and third place half a point behind the Ia(i)ns. Which is really quite cool.

It seems to me that just about every othello competition I ever attend can be summed up as "I beat the winners but lost to Roy and Steve". I need to find a way to stop doing that. Especially the losing-to-Roy-and-Steve part.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's like Christmas!

Not one, not two, not two-and-a-half, but THREE different and unrelated parcels arrived for me today! From Japan! America! Norfolk! DVDs of my Japanese television exploits, which I'm sure are going to be fun, if slightly incomprehensible since they're in Japanese; some books I ordered from Amazon; and a book of Toby Twirl adventures from my sainted mother (see last week's blog about Bobby Bear for details, if you really want to).

It's probably because, according to the best Google logo ever (go and check it out, quick, while it's still the 21st of May!), today is Pac-Man's birthday! It's Pac-Mas! Not that I'm saying that Pac-Man is generally superior to our Lord Jesus Christ, but I think the presents are better. Let's make this an annual occasion when I get fun things in the post from everyone!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's hot

Very hot! The kind of weather for gambolling gaily in the fields, although I still have to go to work so I haven't had much gambolling time. Here's what I'm doing for the next couple of weeks - going to Sheffield on Saturday for othello, theoretically doing some memory training on the Sunday and then throughout the bank holiday weekend after it so as not to make a complete fool of myself when I go to Stuttgart the next week to unofficially take part in the South German memory championship (which is technically only open to South Germans). Then, if possible (I haven't checked), I'm taking the train from Stuttgart to Magdeburg that evening and then, all tired and not having done any practice since 2006, competing in the Mental Calculation World Cup the next day. I don't mind making a complete fool of myself there. I do feel a little guilty about possibly taking a place in the competition away from someone who can actually mentally calculate (it's limited to 40 people, and the organisers choose which 40 applicants to accept), but only a little bit. When I come last, it will make the other 39 (barring the inevitable multiple no-shows) feel better about themselves.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Souvenir T-shirts

I'm wearing my World Memory Championship 2003 T-shirt at the moment. It's extremely groovy, but it sets me wondering "when was the last world championship that gave us T-shirts?" Was it 2003? Or did they do that at one or both of the Bahrain ones? I get a shirt every year from the German championship (which is good, because I don't own many shirts and I prefer not to buy clothes if I can possibly avoid it), but you don't often get one at the Worlds.

What I really wish they'd do is give out souvenir trousers at memory competitions. I only own two wearable pairs, and one of those is my work trousers that I couldn't be seen in public in outside of work hours for fear of being thought uncool.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Makes it all worthwhile

After an extremely stressful and irritating day at work, I must admit it's nice to go into a final meeting and having the conversation go:

"Hi, Ben. Have we worked together before? Your face is familiar."
"Maybe you've seen me on the telly. I'm the World Memory Champion in my spare time."
"Oh, yes! You did that thing with the barcodes, and the cards! That's amazing!"

Almost encourages me to try to remain the world champion forever.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Wright brothers are turning in their graves

I don't comment on the news in my blog, as a general rule (a general rule that I break frequently, but a rule nonetheless), but sometimes I read a quote that makes me think "Gah!" One such quote comes from 'aviation expert' David Learmount today:

Technologically there's nothing we can do about this. We cannot build engines and aircraft which can fly safely through volcanic ash, it's just out of the question.

I ask you. What kind of person gets involved in the aviation industry with that kind of attitude? The whole concept of aeroplanes is fundamentally out of the question - you can't make a gigantic metal vehicle that somehow flies through the air! The very idea is completely ridiculous! But someone made one regardless, and I expect them to keep on making them, volcanic ash or no volcanic ash. So stop whining, David Learmount, and go and invent an ash-proof engine. How hard can it be? I'll expect to see one by the end of the week.