Saturday, October 09, 2010

News from China

Sorry I haven't blogged for the last few days - I've been either wallowing in clinical depression or just being lazy, I'm not quite sure which, and haven't been getting anything done.

But anyway, Yuan Wenkui has kindly sent me the full results from the Chinese Memory Championship, and it makes interesting reading. The Chinese, in a very sensible policy that other countries should adopt, have a national championship in exactly the same format as the world championship, so it's easy to see who's on form and likely to do well in December.

The only world-championship-threatening score was from Wang Feng, who won comfortably with 7723 points (ever-so-slightly worse than my winning scores in 2008 and 2009 but better than anyone else has ever done, I think) - his closest rival was Yuan, more than two thousand points behind. The likes of Su Ruiqiao (who, even though he finished behind Wang at last year's WMC, I tend to think of as the biggest danger) don't seem to have been there.

Although it's hard to be 100% certain who was there, because the results spreadsheet and website, naturally enough, use Chinese characters, and I can't find a website that translates Chinese names into the Roman alphabet. So I used a couple of online translators designed for translating text, which naturally render any Chinese name that's also a common word as that word rather than the name. One competitor is apparently called either 'front blue' or 'Blue expensive', while another is 'the week presently to advocate' or 'Zhou is now the main', depending on which translation service you use. The entrant who one translator sensibly calls Fang Zijie is called 'prescription outstanding' by the other. Still, I managed to work out who all the top competitors really are without too much trouble.

Anyway, Wang Feng (who is young, handsome, cool and would be adored by the Chinese media if he does win the world championship in December) was apparently satisfied with his performance in everything except the hour-long marathons. He was aiming for a world record in hour numbers but only ended up with 1480 (which is exactly the kind of thing that I always do, too), and attempted 22 packs of cards but finished up with 15½. These are both perfectly acceptable scores, especially the hour numbers, but we can probably safely assume that he could do better. In binary he got 3048, which is significant because few people get over 3000, for some reason; in names he got 99, which is of course better than I ever get (and judging by the relatively low scores, the names and faces weren't particularly easy ones); 249 in images, 340 in speed numbers, 70 in dates, 132 in words, 136 in spoken numbers - a very consistently good performance all round - and finished with a flourish with 25.73 seconds in speed cards!

This is the kind of performance that I can beat if, and only if, I'm at my very best. And, as I keep whining, I'm nowhere near my very best at the moment. If I can buckle down and do some really heavy training from now until December, then it's possible, but I'd have to work really, really, really hard at it. So let's see how I get on...

No, that sounds too negative. Positive thinking from this moment on! I WILL do lots of training this weekend, and I'll tell you all about it in my blog!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I should also be Liverpool manager

Or else a sports journalist. Everyone's quoting the statistic that they're having their worst start to a season for 57 years, meaning 1953-54 when they finished bottom of the old first division and were relegated, but to my mind their worst start was the following year, when they were in the second division and, struggling with the novelty of being outside the top flight for the first time since 1905, ended up in 11th place.

The really fun thing is that for the following six years after that, Liverpool fell frustratingly short of being promoted back to division one. It was two-up-two-down in those days, no play-offs, and they came 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 3rd and 3rd before finally getting back up in 1962. Imagine if history repeated itself! Would the Man Utd fans be able to sustain their jeering for so many years?

The annoying thing, statistically speaking, is that they've only been in the top flight for 47 consecutive years, rather than the 48 that it was last time round. Unless they survive the drop this season but do even worse next year, I suppose.

I used to be a Liverpool fan when I was young, because they always won. Consequently I feel betrayed now.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Cheesecake and cherry coke

I'm sadly and hopelessly addicted to these comestibles at the moment. It's not a good thing. Perhaps I should move to Sweden, where cherry coke seems to be unheard-of. I occasionally go through lengthy spells of just drinking water - the first time, I think, was back in 2003 or so, when I had no job and even less money and realised I was spending a small fortune on coke - but I always end up getting back into the habit again. There should be carbonated-caffeine-patches that you can stick on your arms.

I'm also extremely fat, and I still haven't got all that much money (been spending too much on books and Sweden lately) and coke does give me heartburn and is probably ushering me into an early grave, and I'm fairly sure there's an inverse correlation between the amount of coke I drink and the amount of memory training I do, but I don't seem able to stop. Cheesecake is yummy too.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

I should be England manager

Watching the tail-end of "Can England Win The Next World Cup", and Gary Lineker thinks we need to invest in coaches and things to develop new players for the future. What nonsense. We've got plenty of good players, we just need to pick a team based not on who's an individual superstar, but on the best combination of eleven players who can work together well. I'm telling you, give me the job and we'll win every time. Also, it will save money, because I work for peanuts.

On another note, I should be prime minister. I could do both jobs, international football tournaments are held during the parliamentary summer recess.