Monday, May 04, 2009

Ahh, Cambridge

It makes all the tedious preparation work feel worthwhile when we have a fun and successful Cambridge Memory Championship at the end of it! I'm back home again now and looking forward to catching up with the various things I haven't been doing just lately, like not ignoring everybody unrelated to the Cambridge Memory Championship who's been wanting to talk to me.

Anyway, here's what I've been doing this weekend. It was othello on Saturday, and lots of people turned up again - 15 of them, plus a non-playing Adelaide and Aubrey, who was in the country for once and able to organise the whole Cambridge MSO. Which all seemed to be a roaring success, except that there were too few events on the Saturday (the stratego was cancelled) and too many on the Sunday (the draughts was extended to cover both days). This led Aubrey to greet me with ominous questions like "Do you actually need tables for the memory competition?" and "There's no real reason why it has to be indoors, right?"

The othello itself went reasonably well, all in all. I beat Geoff in the first round, which I seem to be making a habit of lately, then lost to Imre and David, who are both much, much better than me, but who I manage to beat once in a while and was hoping to this time as well. Still, I was on four wins out of six before the final round, and just needed to beat Jeremy to end up in joint third with Geoff (who beat Imre, who in turn beat David - if you're interested in the statistics that don't involve me, you should probably check out the British Othello website instead, I'm too self-centred) and keep my undeserved comfortable lead in the BGP. But I lost the decisive game 33-31, ended up a comparatively rubbish joint fifth with Ian (not that Ian is comparatively rubbish compared to Geoff, although I can see how you might draw that inference from my last two sentences), and am now only seven points clear of David. Still, maybe I'll win or be the only person who turns up to the last two tournaments.

After the othello, I decided it might be a good idea to check out the possibility of alternative venues for the memory the next day, to avoid sharing a room with backgammon players or sitting outside in the courtyard on those chairs with little wobbly mini-desk attachments. In the spirit of nothing-ventured-nothing-gained, I went into the Royal Cambridge Hotel at half past seven on Saturday evening to ask the receptionist if there was any chance of getting a cheap conference room for nine o'clock on Sunday morning. Funnily enough, they didn't seem to think there was anything at all unusual about this request, and provided us with a perfect venue - much more swanky than the usual location, and not at all expensive, especially since Aubrey chipped in with a part of the cost from the MSO funds.

The international turnout of the memory competition was extremely impressive - two Swedes (one of whom has an Albanian name), four Germans (one of whom has a French name), an Italian (who lives in London and whose accent veers between Italian and cockney at random), one Welsh and even two English participants! We really need to get more British people involved in memory competitions.

We also had a huge and me-very-grateful-making turnout of helpers who ran the competition and marked papers promptly and accurately, ensuring everything worked out exactly the way it should, ran on time and suffered no major disasters and hardly any minor ones either (slight technical hitch or two with the spoken numbers, but nothing worse than usual) without me having to do much real work at all!

Star of the show was Dennis Müller, who's only been doing memory stuff for six months and is already confident enough to attempt a 20-second pack of cards and talk in terms of beating me next time we go head-to-head (Hamburg, end of July). It's a bit worrying, but on the other hand, really great. I look forward to seeing how well he does after a bit more training!

Dennis joins the illustrious list of Cambridge Memory Championships winners (Clemens Mayer, Ed Cooke and Gaby Kappus), while Mattias Ribbing joins the equally illustrious list of Best Beginners at the CMC (James Paterson, Fan Kai Yoon, Katie Kermode), who have all (except Fan Kai Yoon, who never came to any memory competition ever again) gone on to great things.

So, a good time was had by all! Now I'm going to go to bed, because it tires you out, organising events. Normality resumes tomorrow!

1 comment:

Florian Dellé said...

It was an amazing event. I think I have had never before so much fun at a memory championship - and this was my eleventh one!

Thanks for organizing, Ben.

Check out the fresh REVIEW I just wrote. :)