Saturday, May 04, 2013

From white to black... then flip them back!

Othello in the spiritual home of the game (in Britain, at least), Cambridge! Having bought extra-cheap advance tickets (the ones that are only valid on the specific trains they're booked for), I was a little worried when I got to Loughborough in the early hours of the morning to hear an announcement that the train down to Ely had been cancelled. Luckily, a porter (or whatever you call the people who work at train stations) came hurrying over to the platform, waving his hands and assuring everyone that the train hadn't been cancelled, it was just the computer that controls announcements had misunderstood the situation. What had actually happened was that the train was redirected - rather than going through places like Oakham and Stamford, it had to go back to Nottingham and then down the other line to Peterborough, avoiding whatever emergency had closed down the line it was supposed to be running on. So it was only cancelled for people who wanted to go to places like Oakham and Stamford, and frankly, I went to Stamford once, and it's really really boring.

So I got to Cambridge no more than fifteen minutes later than I was supposed to, still with plenty of time to walk from the station to the city centre (a walk that takes nearly half an hour - the train station at Cambridge, as well as being impossible to travel to directly from anywhere, is situated a long way from Cambridge proper; legend has it that they planned it that way deliberately, to keep the riff-raff away from the nice place) before the advertised start time of 9:30.

The competition was in the traditional and awesome surroundings of the Junior Parlour of Trinity College, scenic views from the window, right next to the city centre, usually a musician or two outside on the street (it was a violinist today), and there were six of us playing - me, Imre, David Beck, Iain, Roy and Marie - plus Adelaide joining us for lunch. I was worried about finishing in time for my advance-ticket-mandated 17:12 departure, but as it turned out we had more than enough time for a round-robin of 20-minute games followed by a double round-robin of 5-minute ones, a good pub lunch incorporating a British Othello Federation committee meeting and a leisurely stroll back to the middle of nowhere to get to the train station!

Iain won the main tournament on tie-break from Imre, whose sole loss was against me - I've mentioned a few times before that I always somehow beat him, and today's game was a fine example that prompted me to ask "What happened there? I was completely dead, and then suddenly I realised that I was going to win!" Analysing it on the all-knowing computer program WZebra, it's quite fascinating, and I might blog about it at greater length this long weekend. I was well and truly trounced by David and Iain, though. Imre won the five-minute tournament with 8½ out of 10, and I could only manage four wins - it's been a long time since my last speed-othelloing at the MSO, however many years ago.

All in all, a fun day out, and now I've got a normal two-day weekend (albeit with the shops closing early) before I have to go back to work again!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Zoomy of days gone by

Ace has kindly posted pictures of the great York get-together of 2001 on Facebook, and it provokes many thoughts within my brain. Firstly, that I would probably die if I tried to spend three solid days drinking so much booze now, at my age. Secondly, that I really didn't look good back then. Especially when wearing that polka-dot shirt that I thought was cool, but even allowing for that, there's no escaping the fact that that was during the period of my life when I didn't realise I was bald.

This may take some explaining. I knew I was baldING, and had been for years, but my mental image of myself was of someone with a reasonably nice head of hair still, whose receding hairline wouldn't really be noticed by the casual observer, especially if I was wearing my hat. It wasn't until late 2002/early 2003 that I thought to myself on looking in the mirror "Wow, I'm really properly bald! When did that happen?"

So looking at those pictures and seeing myself properly slap-headed in 2001 is a bit of a shock. It really brings home the depths of self-delusion I was under in those days. Hey, I was 24, and such reckless youths are allowed a bit of self-delusion, right? Plus that was during my particularly fat phase, and when I wore big round glasses that I thought made me look eccentric and cool... I'm quite grotesquely nerdy-looking in those pictures, as opposed to the "ultimate nerd who all the other nerds look up to" style that I totally pull off nowadays.

It's probably a good thing that I'm so happy with my appearance now. How many other people can look back on their early-twenties selves and say "Yep, I look a whole lot better now!"

Anyway, I'm going to Cambridge on Saturday for the othello regional! I thought I might have to give it a miss, because I'm really seriously having to avoid spending money at the moment, but advance train tickets sucked me in with their enticing cheapness, and I'll be there and back for £18... plus £10 entry fee for the competition, plus the price of a good pub lunch in one of those expensive Cambridge pubs, plus other ancillary expenditure, but the point is that you're not supposed to add these things up, and anyway, it's still a cheap day out with good company!