Friday, August 18, 2017

It was twenty years ago today, the MSO taught the mental athletes to play!

Yes, tomorrow I'm on my way to London for the 21st Mind Sports Olympiad! It's surprising how much my life has changed in the twenty years since I came across this new and exciting-sounding thing in Mensa Magazine. I've got a beard now, for example. I had a stupid-looking moustache in 1997, and even though my instinctive mental impression of "looking good" is still based almost entirely on what my dad looked like (I'm sitting here in a short-sleeved shirt, wide open at the neck, as we speak), I think I look cooler now I've grown up.

I've also advanced from basically just competing in the Intelligence championships and a couple of other things, into an MSO all-rounder who's even organising some of the competitions this year. My printer is whirring away printing out the memorisation papers for one of the three interlinked memory championships right now, in fact. Yes, it's a bit late in the day to still be printing things out, but there are multiple reasons why I'm running late this time, and only one of these is the fact that I got very drunk last Friday and decided to spend the weekend recovering in bed, turning Printing Things Out Weekend into Printing Things Out Weekday Evenings After Work. But it'll all be fine by the time I trundle off down to London tomorrow lunchtime!

When I get there, I'll check into my student accommodation and then hang out in the big city on Saturday night, doing what the cool city kids do (staying in my room, playing on the internet). Then on Sunday (because the venue is Jewish and doesn't do mind games tournaments on Saturdays), the fun begins! Here's my schedule:

Sun am/pm - Marathon Memory
The one for hard-core memory athletes! Three 30-minute-memory, 60-minute-recall disciplines, one after the other. Binary, decimal and cards!

Sun eve - Othello
The MSO has settled into a tradition of 15-minutes-per-player games, as opposed to the 25 minutes in other tournaments. It'd be good to bring back the old blitz and 10x10 tournaments, too - maybe I'll volunteer to run them next year...

Mon am - Natural Memory
This one's the one where memory systems are of less use. Words, Names, and Images.

Mon pm - Speed Memory
And this is basically the catch-all for the other four disciplines in 'international standard' memory competitions, but they're all fast - dates, spoken numbers, speed numbers, speed cards. And no, I don't know why spoken numbers isn't the penultimate discipline, like it always is. When I wrote the description of the event down for some reason I put it before speed numbers, and there's no good reason for it not to be there, so I'm pretending it was a deliberate thing.

Mon eve - London Lowball
Poker in the evenings! Always the best way to round off a day at the MSO. I did unusually well at lowball a couple of years ago, so fingers crossed. My poker strategy is "be freakishly lucky and get dealt the right cards at the right time", and sometimes it works!

Tues am - Mental Calculations
I haven't done a mental calculations competition for aaaaaages! I can't remember how to even do it, but hopefully it'll all come flooding back when I sit down with the question paper in front of me...

Tues pm - Continuo
It's a good way to fill an afternoon. I have no idea about strategy.

Tues eve - Omaha
More poker!

Weds am - Decamentathlon
The MSO classic. I can't even remember the last time I did the deca. I won the gold medal in 2001, I think it was, but mainly because everybody who was good at it was doing something else.

Weds pm - Mastermind
I always like this one, I used to play it even before I'd heard of the MSO!

Weds eve - 5 card draw
The most boring kind of poker...

Thurs am/pm - Monopoly
I've never played monopoly at the MSO before, and I'm a little worried that it's not the best kind of game to play competitively. Monopoly should be played in a friendly, and slightly drunken, way - drunk enough to think it's hilarious to win second prize in a beauty contest, not drunk enough to think it'd be hilarious to try to rob the bank. Playing it with people determined to win medals and pentamind points might not be such fun, but we'll see.

Thurs eve - Pineapple
The silliest kind of poker!

Fri am/pm - Lines of Action
Fun game that's always been at the MSO, but I only remember playing once or twice at most. No poker on Friday evenings; the card-players have to be out of the building before sunset.

Sun am - Shogi
And this one I'm pretty sure I've never played at the MSO before - I know the rules, but I'm a definite novice.

Sun pm - Chinese Chess
Whereas this one I used to be something like 'advanced beginner' level, but it's years since I played...

Sun eve - 7 card stud
It's been said to me before that this is the kind of poker where memory is the most useful, but I'll just stick to the usual 'blind luck' approach. It's more fun that way.

Mon am/pm - Countdown
As in, the TV show with Richard and Carol! Or whoever does it now. And not on TV, and not with the new Richard and Carol. But it should be great!