Saturday, June 26, 2010

That last blog post was an accident

I clicked the "Publish Post" button before so much as typing a single word, and for some reason Blogger isn't programmed to ask you "Are you sure you want to publish a completely blank post?" Which is nice to know, just in case I do want to publish something completely blank in future.

Anyway, what I was going to say was that I've had an extremely satisfactory day today - I've practiced memorising countless packs of cards, abstract images and spoken numbers, watched two quite good games of football and one downright excellent episode of Doctor Who (I haven't been hugely impressed with the latest series, generally, but the final two-parter was awesome) and eaten a lot of food that isn't good for me. What more could anyone want from a Saturday in summer?

Well, it would have been more satisfactory if my experiment to speed up my speed cards speed had been a bit more successful (and speedy), but never mind. Failed experiments are useful too, and I'm sure I can come up with a short-cut to get consistently below that 21.9-second mark...

Friday, June 25, 2010

All's well that ends well

I've been in a shakespearey kind of mood recently. On the way to Germany the other week I bought an inexpensive collection of four tragedies, and I can safely say that Hamlet and King Lear are both really quite awesome. I must get myself a complete works some time. It'd look good on my new bookcase.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


See, I told you I'd blog about something different tonight! Tennis, or men's singles tennis at any rate, is rubbish. It went through a period a few years ago where it wasn't so rubbish, but now it's more rubbish than it ever was. Case in point - that match tonight that has just been suspended at 59 games each in the final set. No breaks of serve. This is what happens when players are all about big serves and no technique, and that's a fair description of all the top players in the men's game at the moment. So now once again people are saying we should scrap the rule that there are no tie-breaks in the final set, but frankly if you do that you might as well just have the two players toss a coin at the start of the game to decide who wins - it would be just as accurate a measure of tennis-playing ability.

Tennis bosses, whoever you may be (I don't really know who owns tennis nowadays), take the technology out of it, make them play with old-fashioned wood-and-catgut rackets, and we might actually see some interesting games.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More Memory News!

I know, I know, but there's a whole lot of news happening in the memory-sports world at the moment, and I feel that I really need to report this one too. Tomorrow, I'll talk about something completely unrelated to memory. And not about football either, even if Capello leaves Jermain Defoe and Joe Cole on the bench and England lose miserably and Emile Heskey accidentally permanently cripples Wayne Rooney by tackling him by mistake...

So, here's the latest news, as emailed out to everyone at lunchtime today:

The UK Open International Memory Championships

Competition Schedule published

In view of the fact the the World Memory Championships has been postponed till December, the WMSC has acted swiftly to keep faith with competitors who have been preparing so hard for those dates. The UK Open International Championships will now be staged in London on Thursday and Friday August 26/27 - the same we we had all planned to be in China. This will be a two day event to International Standards and arbited by Phil Chambers.

The venue is being kindly sponsored by MWB Business Exchange who operate a number of excellent meeting venues around London and beyond. Their website is We are still in dicsussions with them as to which of their venue would be most suitable. This will be announced shortly.

Already current reigning World Champion Ben Pridmore has registered, along with past World Champion Andi Bell. Boris Konrad, the President of MemoryXL will also be there along with competitors from Philippines, Turkey, Netherlands, USA, Wales, Sweden and Norway. The competitor registration fee will be 40 pounds to cover the cost of translations and printing of papers. A registration form can be found by clicking here REGISTRATION FORM
The Programme is as follows

8:45 Competitors Arrive and take seats
9:00 Welcome
9:30 15 Minute Abstract Images
9:45 Collection of papers
9:50 30 min Recall
10:30 30 Minute Binary
11:00 Collection of papers
11:05 1 hour Recall

12:05 LUNCH

1:05 Competitors take seats
1:15 15 Minute Names and Faces
1:30 Collection of papers
1:35 30 min Recall

2:15 5 Minute Numbers (trial 1)
2:20 Collection of papers
2:25 15 min Recall
3:00 scores announced

3:15 5 Minute Numbers (trial 2)
3:20 Collection of papers
3:25 15 min Recall

3:55 30 Minute Cards
4:25 Collection of cards
4:35 1 hour recall
5:35 End of day 1 (marking cards event)


8:45 Competitors Arrive and take seats
9:00 Announcement of scores

9:20 15 Minute Words
9:35 Collection of papers
9:40 30 min recall

10:30 30 Minute Numbers
11:00 Collection of papers
11:05 1 hour Recall

12:05 LUNCH

1:05 5 Minute Historic Dates
1:10 Collection of papers
1:15 15 min recall

1:45 Sound test for spoken numbers
2:00 Spoken Numbers (trial 1 - 100s) - papers on floor
2:02 5 min Recall
2:25 Announcement of scores

2:35 Spoken Numbers (trial 2 - 200s) - papers on floor
2:39 10 min Recall
3:05 Announcement of scores

3:20 Setup for Speed Cards
3:40 5 min max - Speed Cards
3:45 5 min Recall
3:50 Check speed cards
4:00 Announce results

4:15 Setup for Speed Cards
4:35 5 min max - Speed Cards
4:40 5 min Recall
4:45 Check speed cards
5:00 End of competition

7:30 Prize Ceremony
8:15 Celebrations

Look out for a further announcement shortly

Well, I suppose I'd better go and register, seeing as they're telling everybody that I already have. But anyway, this is excellent news! A proper 'international standard' competition in Britain! And the timing of memory championships is now very nice, with this one in August, Germany in November and then the big kahuna in December (hopefully)! Coupled with a good training regimen, I might do okay after all...

The most interesting news is that Andi Bell has 'registered' for the UK championship (might be in the same way that I've 'registered', by sending Chris an email saying I'd come along if they organised a championship, but still). Andi at a WMSC-organised competition with no prize money? That would be something new. I was expecting to see him at the world championship, but if he's really coming to London, that suggests a fundamental change in his attitude.

Andi's main weakness is his monumental power of self-belief. He's spent the last five or six years coming to competitions with the genuine belief that he's going to win, and then finding out that he's not been training and can't achieve the wonders he thought he could. If he's going to take part in a two-day competition like this, it's because he wants to practice for the world championship, which means he's being realistic about his abilities, which means he might be a genuine threat in China in December! Sounds like it might be a great championship...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Magdeburg Hemispheres

I didn't go bike-riding today, I went to Sheffield on the train instead. It still counts as avoiding memory training, I suppose, but at least it's creative. I also bought a new bookcase from Argos yesterday and assembled it myself tonight while watching the football. This will, when I've got round to putting books on it, remove the pile of books currently littering my bedroom floor and will make my flat a more orderly place, more conducive to memory training, so it doesn't count as procrastination at all.

On the way to Sheffield, I passed the time by mentally calculating the volume of a hemisphere of radius 17.3... somethings. I don't actually know what the unit of measurement was, but it doesn't really matter. Anyway, the reason for this is that it was the final task in the Mental Calculation World Cup, and I thought it was a completely awesome question to ask (Magdeburg is big on hemispheres - Otto von Guericke demonstrated the amazing capabilities of his vacuum pump by way of hemispheres and horses in Magdeburg). We got the formula two-thirds-pi-r-cubed and pi to 50 decimal places, and ten minutes to work out the answer as accurately as possible. I got it completely wrong on the day, so this was an exercise to prove I'm entirely capable of doing something like that really. The ability to memorise intermediate results really comes in handy in that kind of question, so it should be a speciality of mine. And yay, I did get it right today (within 0.015, anyway), so that just goes to prove something. Maybe I'll make more of an effort before the next mental calculation competition and try to get good at it.

Also, here's an interesting point raised by an anonymouse - the Asian Games are from November 12 to November 27, the World Memory Championship is now scheduled from December 1 to December 6, and then the Asian Para Games will take place from December 12 to December 19, all in Guangzhou. If the government of Guangzhou doesn't want the WMC to happen before the Asian Games, do they really want it to be sandwiched in between the two like that? (And then there's the question of whether the official explanation is entirely accurate. I'm saying nothing, except to point out that last year's wasn't...)