Saturday, November 24, 2012

Well, that went as well as could be expected

In fact, probably a bit better!

In the way of such things, the opening ceremony was half an hour late starting, and an hour late finishing - photos by the pool take up more time than anyone would expect - and the whole thing fell further behind schedule as the day went on. This is the way memory competitions always work, so it's good to see we're keeping with tradition. Apart from that, the whole thing was impeccably organised and wonderfully technological! All done on computers, which all worked fine (bar one little hiccup) and made everything very smooth and easy.

All in all, the Memoriad is an absolutely wonderful event that really needs to happen more often than once every four years. Can we have a mini-memoriad next year, please?

We started with speed cards, and I did a "safe" time of 33.61 seconds (safe in the sense that I only make mistakes about half the time when I go at that speed) and got it all right without too much difficulty. Nobody else had done a fast time without mistakes, but I expected them to in the second trial. I set out to do something faster, but got stuck half way through the memorisation, and didn't go much faster at all. A drawback with the Memoriad software is that you can't see your time after you stop the clock, which would be nice, but it turned out after I'd tried to recall it but got it wrong that my time was 33.56 - 0.05 seconds improvement is hardly worth all the effort.

But as it turned out, everyone trying for fast times had made mistakes again, so I won! Yay for me - lucky, I know, but I'll take what I can get. Someone who I don't even know and whose name I can't remember came second, and Lukas Amsüss was third, both with times of 50-something seconds.

After that nice start, we had mental multiplications. Fifteen minutes to multiply ten pairs of eight-digit numbers together - the best people do it in a lot less than fifteen minutes, but I'm happy if I get through five in that time. In the two trials this time, I got two right and three wrong in each one. I'm never going to be the mental calculation world champion.

Most of the top contenders in mental calculations nowadays, by the way, are around eight years old and mostly from India. It's a bit scary, really, but memory sports isn't currently showing any signs of such a youthful invasion.

Names and faces came next, and it took me a while to get into the mood to concentrate on it. I actually stopped after a couple of minutes, thinking I'd use the time to prepare my journeys for the afternoon, but then decided that was being silly, and made some kind of effort. I got 54, I think it was - Simon probably won with 150 or so, although there was a technical problem with the computer recognising the Turkish keyboard layout, so we'll get the final results tomorrow.

I decided to skip the mental square roots, since I didn't get round to looking up how to do it, and I was feeling a bit eyestrained after all that looking at computer screens. Instead, I went back to my room and had a relaxing jacuzzi. I could get used to this kind of thing, I really could.

Incidentally, I haven't mentioned yet just how awesome the Belconti Resort Hotel, Belek, Antalya, is. It's an amazing place, and if you need a relaxing holiday, it has my huge recommendation. There's the beach, swimming pools, fitness centre, lots of other great stuff, and the food is wonderful - I was worried that the meals at a place like this would be either posh or healthy, but no, it's just really really great food!

Anyway, we finished the day's entertainment with Hour Numbers - which I haven't practiced at all for at least a year and a bit. And it went really well! Somehow, being in a real memory competition gets me into the right mindset, and I don't have a problem with my mind wandering at all. I went for nine journeys, 2106 digits, with my method of reading through a journey, closing my eyes and making sure I know it, then moving on to the next one, followed by two or three more revisions of the whole lot at the end, and it worked splendidly! I ended up with a score of 1876, which is either a personal best or very close to it, and was able to think "if I'd only got the nun and the cigarette the right way round, I would have been over 1900!"

I know I could also have said "if I'd got them all correct, I would have got 2106," but I kept swapping that blasted nun and her fag around, unable to decide which order they came in. Oh well.

Anyway, I wasn't under any illusions that that might be the best score - my German enemies might have messed up the speed cards, but they're consistently better than me at hour numbers - but I wasn't expecting just how good they'd be! Simon ended up with 2440, Christian with 2343 and Johannes with 2280. Wow. So I was fourth, and just out of the prize-money places, but it's no shame to be beaten by that kind of performance. And 1876 is very much the kind of score I'd want to get in the world championship if I was going to win it, knowing that I always gain on my rivals in events like hour cards and 30-minute binary. I feel motivated again now!

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