Saturday, September 01, 2018

They furnished up an apartment with a Sears and Roebuck sale

I'm moving house - and it's a proper house I'm moving into this time, stairs and everything. I've bought furniture. I've never really done that before, I've always rented furnished flats, but there really don't seem to be any nice ones around here, so I've gone all domestic and bought things from the BHF charity shop. It's all very mature and responsible, I feel quite bad about it.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The grand tour

Okay, so it's now four memory competitions in the next four months that people want me to go to! And they're three international-standard and one world-standard, so the first three would be a really good bit of practice for the fourth!

Germany on 21-22 September, Sweden on 6-7 October, Denmark on 10-11 November and Austria on 14-16 December. That's a really nice schedule! I might just have to do it - my boss yesterday positively encouraged me to take some unpaid days off in addition to my remaining holiday days, so if they really don't want me in the office who am I to argue?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Movie night

Though I've got into the habit of going to the cinema more than once a decade now, it's still really only on long plane journeys that I ever watch a film. And since the selection on Asiana planes at the moment is a bit limited once you've watched Infinity War, Ready Player One and Grease (from the 'classics' selection), I was wondering what else to do with my time on the way home last night - not nearly enough cartoons available to fill the long journey both ways. But the person in the seat in front of me was watching an intriguing-looking Korean film (with English subtitles), so I put that on myself, and it was really great! If you find yourself looking for something to watch, Korean or otherwise, check out Be With You! It's based on a Japanese original, apparently, but the Korean version is really good. I'll maybe try to watch some more of that kind of thing, next time I'm stuck on a plane for hours and hours!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Korea, you've gotta see her

Now this is how to run a memory championship! It's been a great weekend in Seoul, and you can see all the results of the competition here. My own results were nothing to write home about, but actually much better than I'd expected - not having done a single bit of training for many, many months, I was assuming I'd be hopeless, but actually I was running at something like a solid 75% of my optimum capacity all the way through, and felt very good about it. A bit of practice and hard work and I could still get back into this whole memory thing yet!

But let's talk about the wonderful way the whole competition was organised, because I was hugely impressed with this one! It's a real credit to Gyewon Jeong and the army of people working with him, plus veteran show-runners Andy and Angel. We had a spacious room at Seoul University, including big screens at the front of the room showing the time countdowns and all the rest of the stats at the touch of a button. Everybody was allocated a seat on a logical plan of putting the top seeds at the front of the room, separated by lower-ranked players, and (this is the particularly cool part) all the memorisation and recall papers were arranged and sorted into the right order in advance, so the arbiters (lots of them, all entirely clued-up and efficient) could bring them out to the tables with no confusion. No asking people to put their hands up to show which language they wanted, it was all pre-arranged. I love it. The papers all had header sheets as well, to avoid any confusion, and everything worked perfectly flawlessly all weekend.

The stars of the show were Team Mongolia, out in force as usual, and all wearing shirts with their names on them (thank you, Team Mongolia! If only everyone in the world would do that, my life would be so much easier!), and I got to meet Munkhshur and Enkhshur for the first time, as well as returning veteran Shijir-Erdene and many more. Yanjaa was also listed as Mongolian on the results website, but there was a Swedish flag among the ones draped along the side of the room (a union jack for me), so I couldn't completely claim to be the top European there. We also had newcomer Egor Spinu from Moldova and Issa Almgadmi from Libya, with the rest of the 159 competitors made up of many Koreans and a good number of Chinese, Indonesian and Japanese entrants.

There was a free shuttle bus from the official championship hotel to the venue, and lunch at the university (being told that "lunch will be bibimbap on Saturday and bulgogi on Sunday" I was reminded of an old KYTV episode that probably nobody else will remember - "well, you wouldn't do that in the evening, would you?" - but having googled what they are and now tried them, I can heartily recommend them even to people with such unadventurous tastes as mine) and all in all perfect conditions for memorising.

Munkhshur dominated throughout, unsurprisingly enough, including a score of 1100 digits in 15 minutes, which was an exceptional kind of result to get in 30, back in my day. Lkhagvadulam did 1251 binary in five minutes, Yanjaa set two new records with 360 images and 145 words, and Shijir stole the show at the end with a pack of cards in 12.74 seconds! It's getting ridiculous now.

The closing ceremony was also wonderful - the sponsors, Cho-A Bitone, gave us an entertaining little show with a Cho-A special images memory contest and a true-or-false quiz, both of which achieved the double purpose of promoting their products and showing that they knew what the whole memory sport thing was all about; it reminded me of the classic German championship events, but this one was if anything rather better! Then the awards ceremony wasn't at all over-long, but still presented the prizes for everybody nicely, honouring the top three in each age group for Koreans and overall. Great stuff, all round! There need to be more competitions like this!