Thursday, October 17, 2019

The ice age

Perhaps we're not quite icy yet, but it's definitely getting cold. I really don't like winter. One of these days, I'll win the lottery, and spend the entire six months after my birthday in the southern hemisphere, every year.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The silver anniversary

Just to complete the series of memory championship posts, the length of time I've been competing in the things is another subject we were talking about in France - after all, next year it'll be twenty years since my first championship.

I've just looked up the date, and the first day of the World Memory Championship 2000 (Alexandra Palace, part of the fourth Mind Sports Olympiad), was Monday August 21st. That was, of course, not only the first time I took part in a memory competition, but also (after competing in the first day) the day when I bought a memory book and learned how to use these memory techniques I'd heard people talking about.

It would be nice if the MSO championship next year was on the exact anniversary, but the 21st is a Friday next year, so it's probably not going to be possible to do that. I'll look into it, though...

Monday, October 14, 2019

More by luck than judgement

As I wait for a plane in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport (beautiful sunny weather again, too, like we've had all weekend), let me wrap up my personal account of the championship - I'll write a less Zoomy-focused version for the IAM website when I'm back home, if for some reason you care about anyone other than me.

I should at least mention that I forgot Daniel Fogel when listing the people who've travelled here from the four corners of the earth (and also the middle, which is where whoever coined that phrase would presumably have placed Israel) - it's always great to see a new nation joining the world of memory sports! And I didn't mention that the sheer volume of French competitors was record-breaking too - this is a country that's really going from strength to strength.

And the race for second place behind the all-conquering Andrea was exactly as exciting as I said it would be - luckily, I managed to get a solid 100 digits in spoken numbers, leaving me still in contention after only 130 in images (I really must learn how to do that, one day - as I explained to everyone who asked, the discipline didn't exist when I was last in training for memory competitions), and it all came down to speed cards. On the first trial, I did a 'safe' 34.18 seconds, which really turned out not to be very safe at all - I misread the third pair of cards, 2 of hearts and 8 of spades, as 'chef', which is 2 of spades and 8 of hearts, and fortunately was able to remember all the others and deduce the mistake I must have made. It's strange, though - that's not a kind of mistake I ever make, but I suppose it's the kind of thing that's bound to creep in when I'm so out of practice.

Preeda had done a 40.48 seconds, though, and was slightly ahead of me, so I needed to improve on that time if I was going to get second place (Andrea had done 26.99, which is very leisurely and relaxed for him - I can't wait to see the kind of things he does when he's up against an opponent who can give him a run for his money!). I decided I might as well try to beat that old personal record I was talking about, so went as fast as possible... and still only managed to stop the clock at 25.31 seconds. I'm slowing down in my old age.

The recall, though, was wonderful - lots of gaps in my memory, putting them together in the end with thoughts along the lines of "well, all those images are ones I might possibly have seen, and I've used up all the cards, and I suppose it's at least possible that they occurred in that order..." and it turned out to be all correct! I've never in my life produced a correct pack that I'd been so dubious about!

So, perhaps undeservedly, I just managed to nab the silver medal spot. Andrea was of course the brilliant winner-by-miles, Guillaume took the title of French Champion, and the full results can be seen on the IAM stats site. Looking forward to the next one!

1ANDREA MUZIIItaly7604 (7604)
2BEN PRIDMOREEngland4338 (4338)
3PREEDA HONGPIMOLMASThailand4207 (4207)
4SUSANNE HIPPAUFGermany4009 (4009)
5NORBERT REULKEGermany3758 (3758)
6SILVIO DI FABIOItaly3722 (3722)
7GUILLAUME PETIT-JEANFrance3500 (3500)
8LARS CHRISTIANSENDenmark3070 (3070)
9MICHAEL KARIUSFrance2890 (2890)
10DANIEL EVANSWales2732 (2732)
12FLORIAN MANICARDIFrance2661 (2661)
13YVES BLANCHARDFrance2262 (2262)
14SEBASTIEN MARTINEZFrance2174 (2174)
15LEO LEBARQUEFrance2111 (2111)
16DANIEL FOGELIsrael2053 (2053)
17ARNAUD FEGUEUXFrance1966 (1966)
18VICTOR SEGONDFrance1667 (1667)
19PIERRE BRUZIFrance1644 (1644)
20YANN CAUMARTINFrance1466 (1466)
21DIMITRI HEIDETFrance1188 (1188)
22MAXIME BERGERFrance786 (786)
23JOEL LICCARDIFrance675 (675)
24ROMAIN PERNIERFrance644 (644)
25JIMMY RICAUTFrance619 (619)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Age is just a (large) number

My new comment-giving blogling, the infamous executioner Jack Ketch, observes that I must be one of the most venerable, or at least elderly, names on the list of competitors in this championship - I'm not the oldest one here, I'm happy to say, but I am in the top five if you put us in order of age.

There's no denying that I'm the old man of memory championships nowadays - it's worth mentioning that today is Andrea's birthday, and he's 20. Tomorrow's my birthday, and I'll be 43.

It really is great that we've got a new generation arising to win these things and break all the records - between Andrea, new Indian superstar Prateek, Mongolian mastermind Munkhshur, and others, it's an exciting time! (And it really is awesome to see how excited Andrea gets when he breaks a record! It reminds me of me, when I was young...)