Springtime is the time when people like to get together in a scenic part of the world and have a short, one-day-long memory competition particularly welcoming to beginners, and so I'm pleased to announce that the Friendly Memory Championship is returning to its traditional spot in the schedule in 2013.
The competition will be held in the beautiful surroundings of Attenborough Nature Centre, in Attenborough, near Nottingham, on Sunday 26 May 2013.
Anybody wanting to attend is welcome to stay at my house overnight on Saturday or Sunday - the Monday is a public holiday in Britain, so if you live in this country, you won't need to go to work the next day, probably. There is plenty of other nearby accommodation in Beeston, Attenborough or Chilwell if you want to look for it on the internet - the Rockaway Hotel, just over the road from my place, was heartily recommended by someone who stayed there last year.
The competition will start at 9:00am, promptly, and finish by 6:00pm. It's a rather intense, draining kind of day's work, but there's plenty of opportunity to chat with other memory-competition enthusiasts and have a lot of fun! The entry fee is £30, which includes a hot lunch (very nice hot lunch, at that) at the nature centre - the entry is free to anyone who has never competed at a memory championship before, and the £30 might be significantly reduced for everyone else if we get a lot of people taking part this year (it's to pay for the room hire and expenses, not to make a profit for me!)
The Facebook page contains all the useful information about the event, and is a good place to chat with other people who are coming.
The competition will go something like this...
9:00am - Random Words
You get a sheet of paper with random words on it, and have 5 minutes to memorise them, then you get another sheet of paper with blank spaces, and have 15 minutes to fill in the words you remember. This is the basic format that all ten disciplines follow.
To score points, you need to get a complete column of 20 words all correct - if you have one incorrect word or blank space in a column, you just score 10 for that column; two or more errors or blanks and your score for that column is zero. If a word is correctly remembered but spelt wrong, you only lose the point for that word, so scoring 19 for an otherwise correct column.
For some reason, when I created the slide above, I forgot to make a deliberate spelling mistake, but please just use your imagination and assume that the word with a red 'sp' next to it is somehow spelt wrongly.
For the final column that you fill in, you're allowed to stop part-way down the column and score 1 point for each word (9 points in the above picture). One incorrect word or blank space gives half points for that column, rounded up to the nearest whole number (so it would be 5 points if one of the above was wrong); two or more errors or blanks gives zero points for the column again.
The 'raw score' in each discipline (38 points in the example above) is converted to 'championship points' by comparing it to a standard raw score that gives 1000 championship points - in this case the standard is 125, so a raw score of 38 would give you 304 championship points.
Words can be provided in any language of your choice, provided you ask for translations a month in advance of the competition.
The other nine disciplines work in the same kind of way, so I'll be a bit less wordy in describing them unless the basic principles differ from the ones above.
9:30am - Binary Digits
Ones and noughts - all the number disciplines are arranged in rows rather than columns, but otherwise the same principles apply as in words.
10:00am - Names & Faces
You get a lot of photos of faces, each with a first name and surname underneath it. Then you get the faces in a different order, and have to fill in the names.
There are no rows or columns in this one - you can choose which names to memorise, and each first and last name scores one point. Names will be random and come from any language around the world, not matched to the apparent national origin of the faces or to each other. A picture of me could easily have a name like Baozhong Patel.
Names that are phonetically correct but spelt wrong score half a point, names that are phonetically incorrect but reasonably close to the correct name (three letters different at most) score zero, completely wrong names score minus half a point.
10:30am - 15 Minute Numbers
Just like binary, except these come in rows of 40, rather than 30. There are two 'decimal digits' competitions; this one is the longer version.
11:30am - 10 Minute Cards
Rather than information on paper, you're memorising packs of playing cards here. Then they're recalled on paper, as seen above, by filling in the appropriate number or letter (J, Q, K, A) next to the appropriate suit symbol.
Packs of cards will be provided, although you're welcome to bring your own if you prefer.
12:30pm - Lunch Break
They do really good food there.
1:30pm - 5 Minute Numbers
Exactly like 15 Minute Numbers, only shorter.
2:00pm - Abstract Images
The memorisation paper has lots of rows of five shapes and patterns, as seen above. You have to remember which order they are in, and then fill that in on the recall papers.
3:00pm - Historic Dates
A list of fictional 'historic events' with a year next to them - you have to remember the year and match it to the list of events on the recall paper. As with words, you can ask for a translation into your preferred language.
Again, like names and faces, you can pick and choose which ones to memorise.
3:30pm - Spoken Numbers
This time, instead of reading, you're listening to numbers, spoken at the rate of one digit per second (in English - sorry, only one language available here). Recall is on paper, but you only score up to your first mistake. Two trials - one with 100 digits, and one with 400 - and your best score from the two is what counts.
Scoring is a little unusual here - the championship points you get are 70 times the square root of your raw score.
4:30pm - Speed Cards
Rather than having a time limit to memorise as much as possible, here you're memorising a single pack of cards as quickly as you can (5 minutes maximum). Then you get another pack of cards and have to arrange that into the same sequence as the one you've memorised. Scoring is again weird - the formula is 11170 divided by your time in seconds to the power of 0.75.
And there you have it! Any questions, please post them here!