Friday, July 18, 2014

The Friendly Memory Championship 2014, part 7

It's the discipline whose name really doesn't describe it... Abstract Images!

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Here's some useful trivia for you - the first time abstract images was ever included in a memory competition was at the very first Friendly Memory Championship (or Cambridge Memory Championship, as it was called back then), in 2006. Gunther Karsten got the highest score, with 200.

Now, I've said it before and I'll say it again, but we need to do something about Abstract Images. Get rid of it altogether, or change it so that it becomes the kind of test it was supposed to be in the first place. See, you don't need to look at the shapes of the images at all, mostly, you just need to look at the pattern they're filled with. There are 158 of these patterns (I counted them again, I always tell people it's 140-something, but it's definitely 158), and it's pretty simple to learn to recognise them and assign an image to each one, for the purpose of memorising them.

All well and good, but there's no practice material available - the only person who can create abstract images is Phil, and he has to manually convert them into black and white, because the wonderful image-generating program that works so hard to create different shapes that nobody needs to look at creates them in colour, and it was decided early on that colour images would be too easy to memorise without looking at the shapes. This means that long-time competitors have a big advantage over beginners here (and I'm going to keep on saying that, despite Jonas setting world-record scores as soon as he started), and that the whole thing is far more removed from the understanding of 'normal' people than any other discipline in memory competitions.

And it was supposed to be a test of 'natural' memory that would be difficult to apply systems to. That was the original idea behind it, and it was completely subverted by the WMSC getting an external company to create the program and somehow not being able to afford to get them to change it when the program they provided was nothing like what it should have been. I don't know, I just despair about the whole thing, I really do.

On the other hand, it's fun! I like to go down the columns and memorise the images in that order, so that when it comes to the recall I have a choice of five options for each image. It uses up a lot of journeys, though - one day, if I don't manage to get the whole discipline scrapped, I'll think of a way to convert each image into a number from 0 to 9, and turn three of them into one of my objects...

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