Saturday, December 15, 2012

A bit more ludicrous stupidity

The results from yesterday's events came out like I expected - 56 in names, 3090 in binary and 1529 in hour numbers. I'm not exactly setting the world on fire here. Today I struggled my way through 225 abstract images, and probably made a fair few mistakes. In speed numbers I reverted to the mindset I had back in 2004 or so - I did a safe 240 in the first trial, then tried 360 in the second. My when-I've-been-training norm these days is a safe 360 then a risky 480. I got the 240, but then didn't improve in the second attempt.

Historic dates came in between the two trials - they've finally made that change, which saves a lot of time, since the rule is that we have to get the results of the first trial before starting the second (in accordance with WMC tradition, we started about an hour late and got later as the day went on, but at least we saved a bit of time with the speed numbers!) - and that went quite terribly for me; I read through them at my usual speed, and realised after a minute or so that I wasn't remembering anything. I think I got a score of sixty-something.

Finally, in hour cards, I'd brought 36 packs, and was thinking about attempting them all (an approach that Ed Cooke memorably described as "ludicrously stupid" in The Mentalists, back in 2007, when I'd actually done some practice) but when I'd got through about 24 I knew I was reaching my limit. I went on and tried 30, because really, what kind of memory champion only attempts 24, but the recall was full of holes - I think I wrote down 18 complete packs, and there were probably a few mistakes in those.

But enough about me, let's talk about some of the other competitors! It's still anybody's guess which of Simon Reinhard and Johannes Mallow will take the gold medal - they were neck and neck after three disciplines. The Germans, as always, have brought a huge and scarily talented team, also including Christian Schäfer (fighting for third place with Jonas von Essen) and Boris Konrad. Team England isn't quite so well-represented - it's me, nearly-newcomer Martin Mwaka, totally-newcomer Mohammed Afzal Khan and returning-newcomer (he competed once before, in 2008 or 2009) Ryan Smith. James Paterson is also there, but apparently Wales is officially a separate entity in memory circles nowadays.

Watch out also for Jonas and Marwin from Sweden - the Swedes have their own cheerleaders (Idriz, who's arbiting instead of competing this year, and other supporters) to shout woo-hoo whenever a Swede's name is read out, and also a strong team that also includes Mattias Ribbing (wearing a smart suit instead of the scruffy clothes favoured by most competitors) and Joachim Andersson. They look favourites for second place in the team competition.

Also of note, Ola Kåre Risa is producing some great scores again on behalf of Norway, and Erwin Balines of the Philippines was in the top ten in all three of the first day's disciplines! Someone suggested a world championship over there in the future, which would be awesome. There's certainly enough enthusiastic people there! Team USA, spearheaded by Nelson Dellis, are going well too.

Finally, it's worth congratulating Sri Vyshnavi Yarlagadda, a junior from India, who got the highest score in names and faces - another natural talent who might go far?

There's also a little article in the Times today, if you've still got time to go out and get one. It doesn't really say all that much about the competition, but there's a photo of me and a full report on the fact that I wear non-matching socks, so what more could you want?

Friday, December 14, 2012

I really should have trained just a little bit

It's not quite so much fun being at the WMC when you know you're not going to win. Next year, proper training! Definitely!

Anyway, we haven't had any scores yet, but names and faces went as well for me as it always does, nuff said. Binary digits I really felt the effects of not having practiced it on paper for a very long time - I had a lot more gaps than usual, and a score probably in the low 3000s. Hour numbers, I was already feeling brain-frazzled, so I played it safe and only tried 8 journeys's worth - 8x234 digits, whatever that is - and although I filled them all in in the recall, there are bound to be plenty of mistakes. I'd be delighted with a score of 1500.

Tomorrow - abstract images, speed numbers, historic dates and hour cards. I'm not hopeful of doing anything special.

But of course, in all seriousness, the fun of the world championship isn't in the winning, it's the people there! And there are a whole lot of old and new friends to talk to - I haven't seen Tansel Ali since 2003, so I can be forgiven for not remembering what he looks like. I can perhaps not be forgiving for forgetting more recent acquaintances, but at least it's something to tell the journalists - there are quite a few of them buzzing around, Autralians, English and Swedes, and they all liked my eccentric views and non-matching socks.

The Swedes wanted me to talk about sex and wiolence. Apparently everyone's been telling them that's an important part of visual imagery for memorising numbers and things - it isn't really that big a part of mine, so I think my mental stories must be much more peaceful and nice than everyone else's. Yay!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The World Memory Championships are go!

We've had the competitor briefing, at least. It's in a school sports hall, complete with basketball nets, cricket nets, vaulting horses and the like, so at least we won't get bored if we want a break from memorising. Huge praise should go to Dominic, Chris, Jennifer, Gaby, Nathalie and whoever I've forgotten for running everything smoothly. Being me, I was most entertained by Chris constantly adjusting the volume and mix on the microphone while Jennifer was trying to talk.

So tomorrow it's names & faces, binary and hour numbers - funnily enough, the three long events from the Memoriad, so I can't complain that I've had no practice at all. Except for names and faces, I did better than I expected in Turkey three weeks ago, so maybe I'll do the same tomorrow? Who knows? But since I'm going into the competition with no expectations, I suppose remembering a single digit will be a pleasant surprise!

For a rather better preview, please go and check out Johann Randall Abrina's blog!