Sunday, February 20, 2011

Memory people have standards, you know

Commendably early in the year, we've got the revised scoring system for memory championships, plus a couple of the rule tweaks that people have been lobbying for! So just to pass it on to anyone not on the WMSC mailing list, and add my own traditional unhelpful commentary, here we go, hot off the presses:

Spoken Numbers – In the World Championships trials will consist of 200, 300 and 400 digits. In National Championships trials will be 100 and 300 digits.

I wasn't really expecting that one - I hadn't heard anyone lobbying for this. Nobody's come really close to getting all 300 digits correct yet, although I suppose it's only a matter of time...

Names used in the ‘Names and Faces’ discipline will consist of a equal mix of international names drawn from a wide range of different languages to include European, Middle and Far Eastern, Asian and African (following a similar formula as used in the World Memory Championships).

First and Second Names shall be combined entirely at random (eg. a person may have a Chinese first name and a Western surname) and assigned to faces at random.

There must also be a full mix of ethnicity, age and gender of faces used.

No bias towards an individual country will be accepted in a national competition. As a result all current National, International and World records in this discipline will be reset to zero since a comparison with previous events is invalid.

Just clarifying the rules, at the request and for the benefit of the Germans, who've tended to be inconsistent in preparing names and faces in their national competitions in the past. This is how things are done in the World Championship at the moment, so no real change there.

Speed Cards – The rule will remain that if a competitor recalls less than 52 cards their time will be taken as 300 seconds and they will receive a score of c/52 points where c is the number of cards correctly recalled.

The New formula of calculation of points for a full deck is as follows:

11180/(time to the power of 0.75)

This gives 1000 points for a deck recalled in 25 seconds.

Nice formula - very clever, and I think sensible. As well as increasing the 1000-point standard up to the current peak, it slightly improves the score for slower times, bringing the overall difficulty curve more in line with the other disciplines. I don't know whose idea this was, but traditionally Gunther was always the one to come up with peculiar calculations like this, so I suspect him. Anyway, I wholeheartedly approve!

Junior and Kid competitors may elect to compete in an adult competition if they desire. Any competitor that decides to do so cannot take part in a Junior / Kids event for one year after the adult event, thus preventing "competition hopping".

Again, this one is strictly for the Germans, and I don't really know why they demanded a WMSC ruling on it, since the only place that has separate kids' competitions is Germany, and the German competitions aren't run by the WMSC. Still, I suppose it can't hurt to have an 'official' rule in place. I also don't get why the ban on "competition hopping" is necessary - can't we allow people to just compete in whichever events they want? - but I can't really pretend to care about it all that much, seeing as I'm 34 and English.

We would like to welcome the new Council Members who have recently been invited to sit on the World Memory Sports Council and to represent the interest of the sport in their countries. They are:

Jennifer Goddard of the National Memory Sports Council of Australia
Simon Reinhard GM, of Memory XL in Germany
Klaus Kolb of the National Memory Sports Council of Germany
Mr Lin Chuxu, Chairman of New Mind Education in China
Guo Chuanwei GM China

We look forward to their help is growing the sport worldwide in the year ahead.

That's cool. I have no idea who Lin Chuxu is, although I've probably met him. You know what I'm like with names and faces. But it's good to have a bigger council with worldwide representatives to chip into future arguments. Makes the whole thing a bit more organised and official.

And finally, the new standards:

Discipline Millennium Standard Calc Factor Original MS Comp Type
30 min Cards 676 1.479 676 International #
30 min Numbers 1200 0.833 1200 International #
10 min Cards 365 2.747 333 National
15 min Numbers 900 1.111 800 National
5 min Binary 1000 1.000 1000 National #
5 min Names and Faces 70 14.286 100 National
5 min Words 125 8.000 100 National
Poem 375 2.6667 375 Old Comp #
30 min Binary 4000 0.250 4000 WMC #
5 min Numbers 470 2.128 375 WMC
Abstract Images 400 2.500 250 WMC
Historic /Future Dates 125 8.000 91 dates WMC
Hour Cards 1300 0.769 1300 cards WMC #
Hour Numbers 2200 0.455 2200 digits WMC #
Names and Faces 170 5.882 200 points WMC
Random Words 275 3.636 250 words WMC
Speed Cards 25 seconds * 30 seconds WMC
Spoken Numbers 204 70* square root (n) 200 digits WMC #

I think that gets it pretty much spot-on. And I'm very difficult to please with this kind of thing, too. But I think these new standards are punishing Wang Feng for being awesome at numbers to almost exactly the same degree that they punish me for being awesome at cards and binary. All of the ones that really needed fixing (images, dates) have been fixed - I'll leave the likes of Boris to judge whether the names & faces turns out to be a fair standard, obviously.

My own training lately has been erratic in scheduling, but successful when I do it - I very nearly got a "perfect" 468 in 5-minute numbers the other day, which is cool, because if Wang Feng can do it then I don't see any reason why I shouldn't. I've dropped the 4-digit system plan for the moment, by the way - it just wasn't clicking in my head as well as it needs to. It's still on the back burner to be dug up again in future, though...

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