Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The World Memory Championship 2012

Okay, here's everything I can remember about the competition!

Firstly, it took place in the Lilian Baylis Technology School, in Vauxhall, London. The internet tells me that Lilian Baylis was a theatrical producer and manager who got lots of things named after her, personal experience tells me that as soon as schools are allowed to name themselves whatever they want, they put "technology" in the name, for some reason. The secondary modern my mother used to teach at is a Technology College nowadays.

Despite this, it's a very well-equipped and well-run school, that reportedly does lots of good for underprivileged children. The corridors and rooms we congregated in are all shiny and modern and clean, and I'd want to go to school there if I was a teenage Londoner. We were in the sports hall, which I'm pretty sure is bigger than the one at my old school, and the arbiters were across the hall in some sort of theatre room. The prize ceremony was in some sort of auditorium, which we also didn't have at my old school.

Tony Buzan, incidentally, was hugely enthusiastic about the setting, and said so all weekend. I feel that I should report this, out of fairness, since I like to characterise him in this blog as someone who insists on opulent luxury wherever he goes, and he didn't give me a single chance to do that. Maybe next time...

Which brings me on to applauding all the people who ran the event! Phil Chambers didn't get a namecheck in last Thursday's blog because he was stuck in traffic, but he ran everything with his usual efficiency and making-sure-nothing-goes-wrongism. Jennifer Goddard, likewise, was running around non-stop with pieces of paper that probably had important things on them, and although she was showing serious signs of stress by Sunday, she never (as far as I know) physically assaulted anyone. Chris Day ran the electronics and acted as DJ at the prizegiving with his usual mix of triumphant music - we got a brief burst of "Star Trekkin'" by The Firm at one point, before he quickly cut it off, so I'd like to know what else he's got on that playlist.

Dominic O'Brien was in charge of anti-cheating, as always, although I don't think there was any cheating to be anti. He implied that there were hidden cameras watching our every move, which seemed even more implausible than usual in the giant sports hall with big empty walls and high ceilings...

Idriz Zogaj, Kranthi Raj, Andy Fong and Angel Lai were also supervising and coordinating all the happenings, and there was a whole roomful of arbiters marking papers in the back - they were all locked away and only allowed out, blinking in the natural light, for the speed cards, but they included a couple of people interested in competing in the future and bolstering the ranks of British competitors. I'll announce details of the Friendly / Cambridge Memory Championship 2013 before too long.

And so to the results! As usual, you have to consolidate different websites to find out what happened, but the situation's improved now that the World Memory Statistics site has a page for the complete results instead of splitting it into adult, junior and kids pages. Memocamp has the more user-friendly all-on-one-page summary, but you have to bear in mind that various people have the wrong country's flag next to their name, and Yi Zhiqin's names & faces score is attributed to "Takesi-sawai" by mistake.

I think that mistake might have been on the score printouts at the championship, but I'm not sure. In any case, I think "Takesi" was supposed to have been there, but wasn't, so his name will have been on the spreadsheets. Incidentally, the approved transliteration of that name is "Takeshi", and you shouldn't use a hyphen.

Here's the final standings, with notes on whatever that name reminds me of:

1 Johannes Mallow Germany 8413
2 Simon Reinhard Germany 8344

Hannes just slightly had the edge all weekend - on the second day, when he won all four disciplines, he pulled out into a big lead, but then Simon had some of his favourite events on day three, getting big scores on the words and spoken numbers, meaning it was still all to play for at the speed cards, where Simon is by some distance the world's best. In the end, neither of them got a pack correct on the first trial (actually, practically no-one did), and Simon's 27.21 seconds wasn't quite enough to overhaul Johannes with his 42.19. I think that's the closest finish in World Memory Championship history!

3 Jonas von Essen Sweden 6692

The Swedish team came equipped with a film crew and a band of miscellaneous supporters who made sure their memorisers were cheered louder than anyone else. Jonas was fighting for third all the way through, but stayed ahead of Christian and Boris with the kind of scores that would have won the championship a few years ago. He's probably just going to improve in years to come, too...

4 Boris Konrad Germany 6446
5 Christian Schäfer Germany 6199

Completing a German domination of the top five. Boris overhauled Christian on the final day, and also moved back up into the top ten of the world rankings - finally displacing Astrid Plessl, my rival from the olden days who hasn't competed since 2004. This has the interesting effect of making the world's top 10 an all-male affair. Come on, memory women of the world, get to the competitions and strike a blow for equality!

Meanwhile, Tony was greatly improved in his pronunciation of foreign names this year, and had even learned the word "Deutschland", but he still got Christian's surname wrong.

6 Ben Pridmore England 5472

It went about as well as I could have expected with no training. At the prizegiving, my knees hurt - they get stiff if I stay sitting down with bent legs for too long, and I've never had that problem before at prize ceremonies, because I'm usually up and down to the stage, getting top-three-in-the-discipline prizes. This year all I got was a joint-third in the binary digits.

7 Nelson Dellis USA 5273

Team USA were accompanied by a film crew of two young women following Nelson around with a camera. There was also a guy from the company that's aiming to film the both of us next year for the delayed feature film. Hopefully I'll be more impressive for the cameras in 2013, although I can see I'll have to go some just to stay ahead of the likes of Nelson.

8 Ola Kåre Risa Norway 5099

And Ola, too. He might well have been ahead of me and Nelson both, if he'd managed to get a time in speed cards. And he uses the "Ben System" with pride, so there you go!

9 Erwin G. Balines Philippines 4779
10 Mark Anthony P. Castaneda Philippines 4703

Team Philippines were the big new success story of the competition - Erwin was consistently good across all ten disciplines, and Mark Anthony (which is a great name, by the way) had the highest score in spoken numbers - high scores in all three trials, in fact!

11 Marwin Wallonius Sweden 4609

Team Sweden came second, with Marwin and Mattias backing up Jonas. Maybe they can stop the Germans winning by miles and miles, next time?

12 Yudi Lesmana Indonesia 4069

You know, the internet says that Yudi and I met at the 2003 world championship in Malaysia, but I didn't remember that, and apparently nor did he, because we talked to each other as if we'd never met in real life before...

13 James Paterson Wales 3844

Wales is a separate country in the memory world. This is a recent innovation, but apparently it's being strictly enforced.

14 Li Kam Fung Hong Kong 3819

So is Hong Kong. I don't know if the Chinese government would approve.

15 Mattias Ribbing Sweden 3813
16 Annalena Fischer Germany 3715
17 Konstantin Skudler Germany 3667
18 Saswat Satapathy India 3495

Konstantin was the top junior, not far ahead of Saswat. Amusingly, Tony forgot to announce the junior winners at the prize ceremony - Dominic and Phil corrected his other lapses of memory during the lengthy event, but nobody noticed that little slip.

19 Tobiasz Boral Poland 3399

The Polish team were another nation that did much better here than they ever have before. It really is getting more multinational!

20 Jürgen Petersen Germany 3255
21 Carsten Diete Germany 3197

So many Germans... we have to muster a big British team some day.

22 Sri Vyshnavi Yarlagadda India 3040

Third-best junior, and outright winner of the names and faces, which caused some amusement when the prize ceremony gave the medals to the three best adults and the three best juniors, then had to swap them half an hour later when someone remembered it's not supposed to be 'best adults', it's 'best everybody' and extra prizes for juniors.

23 Li Hua Xi Rui China 2994

Her name was written on the score printouts at the championship as LI HUA Xi Rui, and sort of semi-corrected on the website to LI Hua Xi Rui. Someone likes capitals. I'm not an expert on Chinese names, but aren't they usually two or three words, not four? I should have asked her that.

24 Dong Xun China 2828

Top "kid". There were only four competitors who fit into that age category, but the prize ceremony still got three of them up on the stage for the certificates from each of the ten disciplines. But, like the juniors, not for the overall prizes.

25 Ma Yunfeng China 2821
26 Matteo Salvo Italy 2809

I can recognise Matteo on sight now - Jonas, too! See, I'm improving!

27 Rajendra Jain India 2725

Darned if I can remember anything about Raj's physical appearance off the top of my head, though. I'd know him if I saw him, maybe...

28 Mark Aarøe Nissen Denmark 2550
29 Christopher E Carandang Philippines 2530

Christopher spent a lot of time rounding up the entire population of the Philippines to have their photo taken with me. I think it's a cunning scheme to blind me with flashbulbs.

30 Rick de Jong Netherlands 2494
31 Bartlomiej Boral Poland 2476
32 Brad Zupp USA 2433
33 Ni Ziqiang China 2416
34 Xu Jingcheng China 2406
35 Joachim Andersson Sweden 2392
36 Roberto M. Racasa Philippines 2391
37 Chan Chi Wa Hong Kong 2289
38 Jamyla D. Lambunao Philippines 2277
39 Anne Reulke Germany 2249
40 Joona Aapeli Marjakangas Finland 2115
41 Anne Bernadette D. Bonita Philippines 2093
42 Lakshman Dongari India 2063
43 Tansel Ali Australia 2051

Tansel was mainly here to accompany Todd Sampson and the film crew that were following him. They were particularly impressed by my eccentricity - I'm a natural star, you know. It's the odd socks. Everyone loved them this year, though I've always worn them, except when I was wearing the Swedish ones that were a present from Idriz.

44 Hu Xisheng China 1991
45 Malte Godbersen Germany 1927
46 Lu Ming China 1863
47 Christopher Beeg Germany 1861
48 Jakob Krautloher Germany 1852
49 Timo Sprekeler Germany 1787
50 Søren Damtoft Denmark 1769
51 Axel J. Tabernilla Philippines 1721
52 Princess Grace N. Mendoza Philippines 1579
53 Ramyasree Yarlagadda India 1554
54 Mücahit Aköz Turkey 1457
55 Cristine Barao Philippines 1398
56 Divya Radhakrishnan India 1330
57 Pierre Berbinau France 1310

There still might be a French championship at some point in the near future. Jérôme couldn't make it to London at the last minute, but we still had the slightly out-of-practice Pierre, making what is becoming his traditional once-every-three-years appearance at a memory championship. Still, the possibility does exist of bridging that strange memory-free gap between England and Germany, and getting regular events there too!

58 Luis Angel Echeverria USA 1210
59 Hui Xin Khoo Malaysia 1193
60 Ian Roi Spencer A. Betiong Philippines 1064
61 Jørgen Fogh Denmark 1022
62 Martin Mwaka England 1018
63 Blessie Mae Ayalde Philippines 885
64 Sean Kelly Ireland 820

Another comeback kid, having last competed in 1998. You know, I always go on about all the young people at memory competitions nowadays, but there were quite a lot of competitors over the age of forty, too!

65 Yi Zhiqin China 740
66 Afzal Khan England 641
67 Lam Tin Lok Hong Kong 534
68 Wang Dexin China 512
69 Ryan S. Smith England 454
70 Thomas Niranjan Kumar India 247
71 Yuuta Tanaka Japan 83
72 Todd Sampson Australia 33

Todd came here to memorise a pack of cards for the TV cameras, he didn't take part in any other disciplines.

72 competitors is down on the last couple of years, but that's because we didn't have the army of Chinese - in terms of countries represented, we're improving. Next year, who knows where it'll be. I quite like the idea of the Philippines, or Mongolia. Tony said seven countries had expressed interest, and then reeled off a list of eight different places, although I don't know if anyone anywhere has really seriously considered placing an "official bid". I'd be quite happy with Lilian Baylis again!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I take it back

The prize ceremony was long, but a lot less so than usual! Instead of calling everyone onto the stage to give them a certificate confirming that they were there, Tony handed them out randomly to people and had them mingle and present the certificates to each other. Brilliant idea, and sums up this year's world championship - it was a lot less formal and pretentious, and a lot more fun!

Okay, full report coming up in the next couple of days, but just one thing to remember before you all assume I'm over the hill - in 2004, Gunther came 9th, then he won the world championship three years later. AND he was older than me!

Just a quickie

Before I go back to the prizegiving ceremony - those things tend to go on all night, and then I'll want to go straight to bed and not get up until Tuesday - congratulations to Johannes Mallow on winning his first World Memory Championship! Congratulations to Simon Reinhard too, who was close behind him all the way!

Haven't seen the full results yet, but congratulations in no particular order to Jonas von Essen, Boris Konrad and Christian Schäfer, who took the next three places, and I'm pretty sure I ended up sixth.

Enormous thanks to everyone who helped run the competition, it was great, and everything went really smoothly and well! I'll name-check everyone who needs congratulating the next time I blog, but well done everyone!