Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's just not very exciting

I actually thought long and hard (well, short and soft, but I did think) about whether I should post last night's blog or go for something a bit more interesting. See, I'm on telly tonight, and that would be the first thing people see if they watch Epic Win, think I'm cool/weird/revolting and come to my blog to find out more about me, and a post about the subtleties of memory techniques and vague remininscences about the 2004 World Memory Championship that only people who were there will understand, well, doesn't really sell me in the coolest way possible. If anything, it makes me look a little like a nerd.

So I thought I might post something this afternoon that makes me look even more like a nerd and is even more incomprehensible to the average BBC1 viewer. See, I got a score of 1180 in 30-minute numbers today, which is a whole lot better than I've been doing in practice lately, and I know for 85% certain that I can get a still better score than that with just a little further refinement of the way I go about memorising them.

I've always been a firm believer in going through numbers quickly and lots of times, but I decided to experiment with reading each 234-digit journey quickly once, then reviewing them very slowly and carefully (eyes closed until I come to a gap in my memory), then moving onto the next journey and repeating the process. This got me through six journeys (1404 digits) in about 25 minutes, with time left to quickly read through the start of the numbers again and refresh my memory there. And the recall was somewhere close to flawless - five lines with mistakes and one with just one wrong digit. And the gaps were almost all very near the start, as I've noticed the previous couple of times I've tried something similar to this. So I'm thinking that if instead of the quick whiz-through in the last five minutes, I go back to the start with another eyes-closed run-through, I can get a really great score.

It makes me think, though - have I been doing it wrong all these years? Did I win the world championship three times with a system that was fundamentally flawed? Or is it just that I'm getting old and my brain's slowing down, so I need a different system to accommodate for that? I did, after all, get 1193 in competition once, doing it the old-fashioned way, it's just that these last couple of years I've been nowhere near that level.

Well, I'm feeling optimistic about the German championship now. This new technique doesn't work with cards - I've just tried it, and I can't do the eyes-closed thing while still passing cards between my fingers so the right ones are showing when I want to look at them - but I don't really need improving with cards so much anyway. I'm going to go and do another binary practice in a minute (because doing three half-marathons in a day is vital preparation for the draining first day of the German championship) and hopefully the results of that will keep me in a good mood.

So, I hope you enjoyed Epic Win, if that's what brought you to these pages. Go and buy my books (hey, that reminds me, someone actually bought "Moonwalking With Horses" the other day! That brings its total sales to three copies! Well, one copy, to my mother, and two downloads). I'm not planning to watch the show myself, because I want to get all the memory training out of the way before Doctor Who (it just gets nerdier and nerdier, doesn't it?) and I don't really like watching myself on television anyway, but I hope it comes across as fun and silly.

The first person to shout "Epic Fail!" at me in the street gets a prize. The second gets told to go away and stop being so unoriginal.


Chris said...

Both very fun and very silly - and I thought you came across very well.

Stupid show. (Admittedly I didn't like the show based on its first episode or two, but it's really growing on me now.)

Anonymous said...

Phew, I don't need to watch that show anymore waiting for you to come on! Great job anyway

Anonymous said...

Epic Fail!

Ace* said...

At least you did better than that fishmonger and your challenge was funnier and cleverer than some silly girl kicking herself repeatedly in the head!