Sunday, March 09, 2014

Let's get Extreme!

I have been practicing for the Extreme Memory Tournament for the last week, morning and evening. Except yesterday, when I had a hangover. But I've still had fourteen trial runs of each of the four disciplines since I started this regime - they're Extreme because they're fast. But let me catch you all up with what I'm talking about, if you haven't been following the Extreme latest.

All details are on this website


The Extreme Memory Tournament (XMT) is new type of memory competition. The tournament leaves the traditional style of memory competition by breaking down every event into short, exciting, head-to-head memory battles. The XMT is an attempt to crown the best memory in the world by challenging competitors with various intense memory tasks.


Extreme. And entertainingly different from the competitions we've had before! I really am looking forward to it!

The Basics
•The Competition will be...◦two-day event held on April 26th and 27th, 2014

held at the Dart Neuroscience Convention Center in San Diego, CA


sponsored by Dart Neuroscience and Washington University in St. Louis (WUSL)


offering money prizes from a pool of $60,000



16 of the top mental athletes in the world will be competing to ensure that the competition is at the highest level.


The competitors will be split up into 4 groups of 4, mixing the best and worst in each group to maintain fairness.


The competition will be run first in group stages (Day 1) and then single-elimination Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Runner-up Match, and Finals (Day 2).


All matches will be head-to-head competitive style, with competitors facing each other (1-on-1).


All events will be digital. All memorization/recall will occur on a laptop. For XMTs, a laptop may or may not be used (this will be announced prior to the task).



I forget whether I've mentioned it before, but I'm down to number 6 in the world rankings now, meaning number 5 in the list of seeds for this tournament (Wang Feng isn't coming, although he is doing a Chinese TV show with Boris next week), meaning I'll be in a group with one of the top four. Unless I improve my ranking at the Welsh competition at the end of the month, but I can tell you now that that's not going to happen. The people in the third and fourth seeding pots are also the kind of people who'll beat me at this, too, so I suppose it doesn't matter whether I'm in the first or second.

Good things about this - computers! I mean, it is the twenty-first century. And the software being designed by Simon Orton, who always knows what he's doing, and tested extensively by him and Nelson Dellis, who likewise knows his onions, before it's released to the competitors to practice with, and before it's used in the competition. Not to name names, but there are some other competitions where it might have been a good idea to test whether technology works or not before using it.

Day 1 - Group Stage
•There will be 4 events throughout the Group Stage matches:◦
1-Minute Names

◦1-Minute Numbers
◦1-Minute Cards
◦1-Minute Words


3 minute recall time for all events.


Overall percentage memorized correctly will be calculated after each event and used in the case of a tie-break.


Each competitor will face all others in his/her respective group, for each of these memory tasks. 6 different matches, with 4 events each = 24 different head-to-head battles per group. 96 total matches on Day 1.


Points will be earned if a match is won (3 points) or tied (1 point). No points for a loss.


The top two leaders in each group (by points, or by tie-break percentage if necessary) will advance to Day 2.


All 4 memory tasks against an opponent will be split up over the course of the day to keep things moving, light, and interesting. That way, the point accumulation can be a close race till the very end.



Actually, what's interesting here is that three points for a win is a very football kind of thing. You wouldn't have thought a competition organised by Americans would have done that, would you? There'll be two head-to-heads happening at the same time (the two in the same group going simultaneously), so there'll be the opportunity to watch everyone else. It should be a much more fun spectator sport than most memory competitions!

Day 2 - Single Elimination Stage

All matches will be head-to-head, with the competitors facing each other (1-on-1 style).


Each match will be a best-of-7 series (first to 4 wins).

•In addition to the 4 events listed above, there will also be:◦
XMTs (Extreme Memory Tasks)



All 4 Quarterfinal matches will begin at the same time so that XMT #1 is revealed and executed at the same time. *All QF matches will execute the same XMT.*


Both Semifinals matches will begin at the same time so that XMT #2 is revealed an executed at the same time. *All SF matches will execute the same XMT.*


The first match of each match will always start with an XMT. This will decide who gets the first point. The loser of the XMT gets to choose the next event. From there on forward, choice of the next event is given to alternating competitors. The same discipline cannot be chosen twice in a row.


Same rules apply for the 4 disciplines as in Day 1, only with some additional tiebreak rules, which are outlined on the event pages.

•There will be an additional Third-place Match between the losers from the SF round. This match will decide the 3rd and 4th place positions.
•The Finals will be a best-of-9 series (first to 5 points) to make it as interesting as possible.◦
There will be 2 XMTs in this event.


XMT #3 will be to used to decide the first point and will be the same task as the one used for the Third-place Match.


XMT #4 will be used to decide who the 4th (total) point. (i.e. when the score is 3-0 or 2-1)




Yes, I'm curious about the XMTs. We'll be told what they are ten minutes before we do them, apparently. No clues.

I need to clarify whether "The same discipline cannot be chosen twice in a row" means that you can't choose the one your opponent just chose, or that you can't choose the one you chose two events ago, or both. Probably both, but remind me to ask Nelson about that.





Names



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The Basics
•1 minute memorization.
•3 minute recall.
•30 names (first name only) and photos (head-shots).
•+1 point for a completely correct name. No points for an incorrect name.

Details
•Simple international name selection (normal, common names).
•The timer can be stopped if the competitor is finished and confident.◦Once the timer is stopped, that competitor's information vanishes and the other competitor is notified (his screen turns a light shade of blue).
◦The other competitor can continue until the 1 minute is over or until he hits the timer as well.

•The winner is decided by:
1.Better Score (total points)
2.If Equal Score, the Better Time wins.
3.If Equal Score and Equal Time, a draw is given to both competitors.
•TIEBREAK (Day 2 only): A random face will be shown (one that was correctly memorized by both competitors). The first competitor to buzz in with the correct answer, wins (3 seconds to respond orally). Best of 5 (first to answer correctly 3 times).


I've been practicing this (and numbers and words) on Memocamp. If you pay them the reasonable amount of money for a subscription, you get the option of 'free' training where you can specify 1 minute memorisation and 3 minute recall. I got a score of 14 tonight, which I was really quite happy with, but I really think I could do better if I get myself a list of "normal, common names" and work out in advance what that name makes me think of, and develop some kind of working system for associating these things with the facial features of the photo.

I'm still going to be rubbish, of course, but I feel like I could make an effort here.





Numbers



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The Basics
•1 minute memorization.
•3 minute recall.
•60 digits.
•+1 point for a correct digit. No points for an incorrect digit.

Details
•The timer can be stopped if the competitor is finished and confident.◦Once the timer is stopped, that competitor's information vanishes and the other competitor is notified (his screen turns a light shade of blue).
◦The other competitor can continue until the 1 minute is over or until he hits the timer as well.

•The winner is decided by:
1.Better Score (total points)
2.If Equal Score, the Better Time wins.
3.If Equal Score and Equal Time, a draw is given to both competitors.
•TIEBREAK (Day 2 only): A random position in the 60-digit number will be shown (one that was correctly memorized by both competitors). The first competitor to buzz in with the correct answer, wins (3 seconds to respond orally). Best of 5 (first to answer correctly 3 times).


This is an interesting one. 60 digits is 20 images - six fewer than speed cards. My best time so far is just over twenty seconds, but I'm thinking I can go a bit faster than that. The important thing, though, is to make sure I get them all recalled properly, because there's no point doing a fast time if I only get 57 digits correct and my opponent takes a whole minute to do 60. The thing about numbers is that you don't get the double-check of using each of the 52 possible cards once. But with more practice, hopefully, I can get more consistently reliable if I'm memorising at top speed.





Cards



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The Basics
•1 minute memorization.
•3 minute recall.
•1 deck.
•+1 point for a correct card. No points for an incorrect card.

Details
•The timer can be stopped if the competitor is finished and confident.
•◦Once the timer is stopped, that competitor's information vanishes and the other competitor is notified (his screen turns a light shade of blue).
◦The other competitor can continue until the 1 minute is over or until he hits the timer as well.

•The winner is decided by:
1.Better Score (total points)
2.If Equal Score, the Better Time wins.
3.If Equal Score and Equal Time, a draw is given to both competitors.
•TIEBREAK (Day 2 only): A random position in the deck will be shown (one that was correctly memorized by both competitors). The first competitor to buzz in with the correct answer, wins (3 seconds to respond orally). Best of 5 (first to answer correctly 3 times).



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Ahh, the old classic. Wouldn't be a memory competition without speed cards. I've been training with this one on the Online Memory Challenge site - being Simon's design, it's probably closer to what we'll get in the tournament, and also the speed cards layout on Memocamp isn't very good (they're too small to see quickly when you look at all of them on the screen at once).

The 3 minute recall is the key here - I understand Nelson's been being asked to increase it, but I hope he holds firm. It's challenging, but still doable.

I won the speed cards at the Memoriad by a surprisingly comfortable margin, but surely someone's going to do a very fast time here - under 20 seconds wouldn't surprise me too much!





Words



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The Basics
•1 minute memorization.
•3 minute recall.
•50 words (in language of choice).
•Your score is up to your 3rd mistake (to allow slight leniency for misspellings).

Details
•The timer can be stopped if the competitor is finished and confident.
•◦Once the timer is stopped, that competitor's information vanishes and the other competitor is notified (his screen turns a light shade of blue).
◦The other competitor can continue until the 1 minute is over or until he hits the timer as well.

•The winner is decided by:
1.Better Score (total points)
2.If Equal Score, the Better Time wins.
3.If Equal Score and Equal Time, a draw is given to both competitors.
•TIEBREAK (Day 2 only): A random position in the 50-word list will be shown (one that was correctly memorized by both competitors). The first competitor to buzz in with the correct answer, wins (3 seconds to respond orally). Best of 5 (first to answer correctly 3 times).


I don't get why the rules are different for this one. I'll ask that to Nelson, too. It'd make more sense if it was one point per correctly recalled word, same as the others.

My best so far is 31, and that's looking at each word twice. Should I experiment with trying to read all 50 in a minute, really quickly? I don't know if I'll get any kind of reasonable result that way. On the other hand, the words on Memocamp are occasionally weird in English (there's a few that slipped by the translator, I think), so maybe I'll find the tournament easier after training with it. Except that I bet they'll use American spellings...


Overall - can't wait! And I'm determined to keep up the training for the next month-and-a-half!

6 comments:

chris said...

Extremely cool! This also has something of a made-for-TV feel to it, which is no bad thing at all. Heck of a prize purse, too. Practice hard and have a great time!

Anonymous said...

Their website still has a copyright year of 2013; good luck with your onions.

Paul Dennis said...

Hey Ben, who are the guys you believe will be top 3? Is it invite only or do you qualify based on your ranking? Yeah, keep training...kick their assets, or cerebellums.

Twins IMDB said...

1 female, and 15 male competitors? And the competition is sponsored by a university & a neuroscience company?? If you happen to see 15 world renowned athletes anywhere around...I'm smelling an Arnold Schwarzenegger & Danny DeVito situation happening here.

Now I'm wondering if you would be more Arnold or Danny?

Perhaps you should participate in this experiment, if for no other reason just to see the answer.

Zoomy said...

Don't worry, the university is the one in St Louis that has already experimented on me, so I know what they're up to. And I would be Danny DeVito, of course - he's much cooler.

If I was a betting man, and if it was possible to bet on this competition, and if competitors were allowed to gamble on it, which we certainly shouldn't be, my money would be on Simon Reinhard to win. It seems like the kind of event that will suit his style and his all-round expertise at memorising. But really, there are sure to be some shocks and surprises along the way!

The invitations are based on rankings - the world's top 16 were asked first, then they worked down the list from there. James is a wild card.

It's going to be a great gathering, I'm sure!

Welsh James said...

I love being the wildcard, it makes me feel like Goran Ivanisevic!