Saturday, August 07, 2010

Package tour

I did promise a link to good cheap London accommodation, so here we go. I'm staying at Rosebery Hall, a very nice place I've stayed at before, although it does look like it's missing an R. Maybe it was just named after an illiterate. But anyway, £140 for five nights, including breakfast, can't be bad. That's the same as one night in the real hotel near to the UK Championship venue (and you might not be able to get that any more - I got an email this morning that made me giggle, describing this special offer and telling us that rooms will be held at this rate until July 30th).

Also, they're looking for arbiters to help out in London - please do come along if you're not doing anything on August 26th and 27th, it really is fun and we'd all be very grateful!

And also also, if you're booking your stay at an LSE hall of residence online, you get the following options from the 'Title' drop-down menu:


What's a Conf? And a Mst? And what, they don't cater to anyone below the rank of Captain or above the rank of Colonel? And where's 'Lord' or 'Dame' or 'His Eminence'?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

And when they ask me how I got her, I'll say "I saved my money!"

In a comment to last night's blog, Boris reminded me of something I should have been telling everyone about ever since they announced the UK Memory Championship - book a room in a student hall of residence! I'm going to book mine this weekend, if I get round to it, and I'll post helpful links then if anyone's interested. Student accommodation is available to the public in the summer holidays, at much cheaper rates than real hotels, and I have many happy memories of staying in halls during the MSO. They usually offer a full English breakfast and everything, and some of them even have en-suite bathrooms nowadays (students are so pampered today, that's probably why they're all so stupid...)

Indeed, the first mental journey I ever created (and I still use it today, ten years later!) was the route from a hall of residence to Alexandra Palace, where the MSO 2000 was held. It's a pretty unprofessional kind of journey, with some locations right next to each other and some absolutely miles apart, but it's become so stylised and altered in my head over these ten years of constant use that it's now nice and evenly spaced and bears no resemblance to the actual places it's based on.

The trouble is, I can't remember which hall of residence it was. I know it was down the road and round the corner from a tube station, but I can't remember which tube station either. If I concentrate, I can picture the real building and roads (as opposed to the completely different-looking ones that appear in the mental journey) quite clearly in my head, but I can't identify where it was. I do remember, though, that there was an old Volkswagen camper van parked on the road with a sign in the window saying it was for sale for £300, and I really wanted it. I didn't know how to drive and I didn't have three hundred pounds (by 2000 I was earning just about enough money to afford a week's holiday in London, unlike previous years when I had to pay for it by not spending money on luxuries like food and rent for a couple of months, but I still didn't have much cash to spare) but I still seriously considered buying it.

Of course, now that I'm a wealthy international celebrity who actually has got £300 to spare, writing this has rekindled my desire for an old Volkswagen camper van. Next one I see, I'm having it. Even though I still don't know how to drive.

Monday, August 02, 2010

(Probably) all in the mind

The Mind Sports Olympiad still exists, and they've got a schedule up on the internet. And, once again, I'm going to be in London for a memory competition around that time. Maybe I'll drop by and play some games. Or maybe I won't, because it's expensive and the only people who still go to the MSO are the ones who really, really want to win everything and so take it very seriously, but on the other hand, it might be a good place to hide from the hordes of international press who will be pursuing me after the UK Memory Championship to ask me why I'm suddenly so rubbish.

Possibly I could go to the evening poker games after each day's memory competition has finished, just to make absolutely certain that my memory will fail me, or maybe I could just find games to play during the daytime after the memory is over - from the looks of it, I could play mastermind, abalone, azacru, creative thinking and then a full day of monopoly, plus a bit of evening poker. For only a hundred pounds or so, plus however much it costs to stay in London for a few extra days (I haven't booked a hotel yet for the memory - I'm certainly not staying in the horribly expensive official tournament hotel, I'll find somewhere cheap and nasty).

The only one of those that really appeals hugely is the creative thinking championship - I used to enjoy that, back in the olden days. In an event full of competitions with good and bad moves, or right and wrong answers, it was fantastic to have a completely subjective championship where the aim is to make Bill Hartston laugh. I even won the bronze medal one year, I can't remember which, but wait a minute, it's on the website... 2001. Wow, nine years ago. Anyway, I was extremely proud of that result, because there's a gang of people who always compete in it and who are more in tune with Bill Hartston's thought processes. So, I think I will go along to the MSO this year, I've talked myself into it. Creatively.

Besides, I'm only 31st in the all-time medals ranking, and I'd much rather be in the top twenty and appear on the first page.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Yes, sorry I haven't been blogging as assiduously as usual just lately, what with having a house-guest and all. But I'll tell you what, I'm going to do lots of memory training for the next couple of weeks, and I'll tell you all about it when I do!