Saturday, November 30, 2013

Remember, remember, the thirtieth of November

Here I am in glamorous Croydon, after the first day of the World Memory Championship 2013! We're in a surprisingly silent conference centre in the middle of a street market full of mongers yelling about their cheap fruit and veg, and the competition room comes equipped with a big screen displaying the time remaining to memorise or recall, as appropriate! We've never had that kind of hi-tech stuff at a WMC before, so all glory to Andy Fong for creating it!

Not having practiced, I'm in the pleasant situation of being here with no expectations and no intention of doing anything but have fun. With Simon Reinhard not being here, Johannes Mallow is the blistering hot favourite, but maybe one of our up-and-coming new mental athletes will give him a run for his metaphorical money (no prizes).

Hard to say, so far, because we've only had the results of the names and faces, and you can never judge what form people are in until we've had a 'real' memory discipline or two announced. The statistics website, unsurprisingly, has dropped dead, but if it can be brought back to life the results can be found here first. If not, Memocamp might be able to get hold of the information somehow and upload it there...

Boris Konrad won the names and faces, fractionally ahead of Jonas von Essen and James Paterson (the usual suspects, in other words), and I got some dreadful score that I'm really not unhappy with at all.

With binary I went for an unusual slow-and-steady kind of approach, making sure I could remember everything, only attempting something a bit less than 3750 and hopefully ending up with a score around 3000. Not the way I'd do it if I'd done any training, but a lot more effective than trying to go at my usual kind of speed and forgetting almost everything (the technique I adopted in the UK Championship). I did the same for the hour numbers, only even slower and steadier, attempting just 1520 (well, 1521; I do them in groups of 9) and I think not being a million miles away from getting them all right. 1200 is a respectable score even in these awful modern times when people get 2000+ as a matter of course, so if I got something around there I won't be disappointed. The aim this year is to finish in the top ten and not make a complete fool of myself. Modest expectations, you see.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The day after the Day of the Doctor

I know I've been talking about Doctor Who a lot lately, but it was that good. The fiftieth anniversary special was amazing! Rather than taking the view that an anniversary special just means showing pictures of all the Doctors in some kind of dramatic exciting fight that doesn't make any sense if you think about it for half a second, they did that bit in just one throwaway scene near the end and spent most of the 75-minute episode doing genuinely clever things with the concept of time travel - something that the 21st-century series generally hasn't done at all well so far. This story, though, was intricate in its construction, with lots of little moments that get a big thumbs-up from me, and the three Doctors and Clara were wonderfully characterised!

I'm happy now. Just keep making Doctor Who, please!