Monday, August 21, 2017

(Probably) All In The Mind

Yes, the Mind Sports Olympiad is up and running again! While various other board games and things were going on around us, a small but select group gathered in a quiet room away from rattling dice and things, to compete in the Marathon Memory Championship.

This is part of the larger MSO Memory Championship (discussion of what exactly to call it continued into the day, when it turned out that the database still calls it the Memory World Cup, but I do think "Mind Sports Olympiad" is a prestigious enough title in its own right!) which continues today with Natural Memory (words, names, images) and Speed Memory (dates, numbers both spoken and written, and everybody's favourite, speed cards). But the Marathon event was all about sustained concentration, 30-minute memorising of binary digits, then decimal digits, then cards.

With an MSO double-timeslot to fit the competition into, we actually had plenty of time - ten in the morning till six in the evening gives us eight hours to accommodate four and a half hours of actual memory stuff. We could maybe expand it to include hour cards and hour numbers if we did this format again, though it would be a bit of a tight squeeze. I remember the non-standard MSO competition at Loughborough in what was probably 2002, which included the hour marathons both in one day, and that was a lot of fun! Today we had rather lengthier breaks between disciplines than is ideal, and also had to wait around to present the medals at the end of the day - and as everyone knows, I hate delayed prizegivings at these things. But never mind, it gives people time to talk among themselves!

Katie dominated the competition despite her specialist subjects being in the Natural event, with 2850 binary, 1080 numbers (always satisfying to beat 1000 at the 30-minute numbers) and 7 packs of cards (tiredness setting in by the end of the day, I think). Lars was an excellent second place; he's really improving rapidly just lately! Scores went like this:

The medal presentation was worth waiting for - the MSO has this year invested in an actual podium, and red carpet! The podium came in three bits, and the carpet wasn't fastened to anything, and it seemed a bit of a health hazard, but it did look good on camera! Marlo couldn't stay to get his medal, and with Lars being so tall it looked a bit unconventional - even with Katie standing on a higher level, Lars was still about a foot taller than her, and a long way above the top of the backdrop. Even so, it looked brilliant!

After that it was the othello, and I wasn't sure anybody else would be competing - none of the regular othello crowd were there, and the allure of Texas hold'em was more attractive to MSO people. But in fact there was a huge attendance, 22 players! A big crowd of Korean youngsters, a smaller crowd of, um, somewhere-in-South-America youngsters and a respectable smattering of adults from various countries too! It was a five-round Swiss, and I lost to Paul Smith in round 4 - might have got a medal, depending how the tie-break worked, but to be honest I was feeling so worn out that I left while the harassed organiser was still trying to juggle the pairing cards. It was a great event, though!

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