Saturday, November 07, 2009

Entertainment like it used to be

I'm listening to the boxing on the radio. Not something I've ever done before - officially I disapprove of boxing, but I like to watch it on TV from time to time - and it seems a strange thing to do, seeing as boxing is such a very visual thing. You'd think that boxing on the radio would be the equivalent of memory competitions on the telly - nobody can see what's happening. But old cartoons, comics etc are absolutely full of scenes of people crowding around a radio to listen to the big fight, so this is my sort of tribute to that, and also to the fact that there's nothing good on TV. I hope Valuev wins - I hate it when a plucky underdog beats the hot favourite.

Friday, November 06, 2009


While we wait for me to finish writing that WMC competitors analysis I promised you yesterday (that's a weekend job if ever I saw one), let's keep up the memory theme by telling the world that Sainsbury's want to use me in some kind of "PR story", helping staff memorise the location of their products so as to help customers. It sounds like fun, although in the email they asked me to 'please let me know your rate for PR activity', which is a question I never enjoy being asked. It's sort of embarrassing to reply that I haven't got a standard rate, because I very rarely do that kind of thing, and when I do I normally don't get paid. I'd do this for free Sainsbury's own brand groceries. This is why I really need an agent, you see. They could price me right out of the market and reject all this kind of offer without even telling me about it! That would give me so much more free time!

Also, I notice we haven't got any British people in the semi-finals of the World Othello Championship. It's another nearly-all-Japanese affair again, including one Japanese player who pretends to be from Singapore nowadays, and also Matthias Berg, who probably counts as an honorary Japanese player by now, since he always gets to the semi-finals of the world championship. Maybe next year I'll qualify and show them all how it's done.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Runners and riders

Well, it's a week until the World Memory Championship 2009 kicks off, I've just spent the evening experimenting with a new approach to memorising binary digits (which is, of course, a ridiculous thing to do a week before a world championship, when you might argue that it's a bit too late to be trying new things, but hey, I'm a ridiculous kind of person), the WMSC have just made an announcement about prizes, interestingly not mentioning the prizes that Memory XL have promised to provide on top, and I'm feeling like this would be a good time to do that run-down of the top competitors in this year's event, so all my faithful blog-followers know who to look out for. Well, it's that or go out and watch the fireworks, and I'm doing that tomorrow. I've written part of it already, the finished article will be with you at some point over the next seven days.

(Incidentally, you probably also want to know where to look out for them - up to the minute coverage will hopefully be available on the ever-awesome Sorry, everyone who keeps asking me this question, it's not going to be on telly. Not even on some obscure cable channel.)

But let's talk about those prizes before we start - in the absence of a sponsor for this year, the coolest prizes are the promise of free trips to next year's championship, in China. Free hotel rooms for places four to ten, free flights and hotel suites for the top three (hotel SUITES? Okay, not all the competitors are working class heroes like me, but I'm sure all the potential top-three would be happy to take a normal room, and have the spare cash go back into the prize fund for everyone. The entire German team this year are crowding into about three rooms, last I heard, we're used to non-luxurious accommodation!). Still, these prizes are extremely groovy, and I hope they do come about. It's generally a good idea to be sceptical about plans for future world memory championships at this stage, but the Chinese organisers seem very keen to put on a good show.

There's also a promise of lots of prize money for 2010, but I'm not going to be making plans for that money just yet. A lot of things could happen in the next twelve months.

Anyway, the point of memory competitions really isn't the prizes - it's the fun of the competition. Prizes are a nice bonus, but we'd all compete if there never were any, and we'd still have a good time doing it. (Well, unless there was a wealthy sponsor spending lots of money, but the organisers were pocketing it all. Then we might complain a bit.) But I'm completely in the mood for an exciting World Memory Championship now. Roll on next Thursday!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


The World Othello Championship kicks off tomorrow in Ghent. In accordance with tradition, the draw for the first round has been made the night before, and you can see it here if you want. Our British contingent (and our Australian chairman) mostly seem to have drawn opponents in the good-but-beatable-players kind of range (Miroslav Voracek, Marcel Peperkamp, Henry Aspenryd), while David Hand and Helen Starkey are up against players I've never heard of before, so there's a chance of a good start for our lads (and ladette) if everyone's on form.

It really is high time we had a British world champion, or even just a British runner-up again. Come on, you Brits! Flip those discs!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Who's going to win?

I am, that's who! You know, I'm just now finally starting to feel confident about the world championship. It's going to be close, but I think I can do it...

Monday, November 02, 2009

A bit more Japan

Remember that "Windows 7 Burger" I mentioned? Boris found pictures! Pictures from the very same Burger King we were in, in fact!

Also, you know how American lightswitches are weird (you flick them up to turn the light on and down to turn it off, as opposed to the normal way of doing things)? Well, Japanese lightswitches are sideways! It really is a strange and scary country, and I think I'm going to have to avoid international travel in future, because things like this really do alarm me.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

It's funny what you think of at odd moments

I own a hacksaw, or possibly a coping saw, I'm not sure what the difference is. Anyway, I've got one, in one of my old cardboard boxes. It just occurred to me today, apropos of nothing, and I dug it out just to make sure I wasn't imagining it. But I can't for the life of me remember why I bought the thing. I'm not a DIY kind of person and I'm sure I've never used it. I can't think of anything I've ever done that would have required a hacksaw, but I know there was something once upon a time. I wonder if I made a good job of it...