Friday, September 21, 2018


Here I am in the Maritim Hotel, Otto-von-Guericke-Strasse, Magdeburg, and it only occurred to me when I arrived that I really should have worn my Otto von Guericke University souvenir T-shirt from the mental calculation world cup in 2010, rather than my much-less-thematically-appropriate Extreme Memory Tournament 2016 souvenir T-shirt. Never mind, I'm sure there'll be other competitions in Magdeburg.

Anyway, when I arrived here turned out to be this morning, since my plane from Birmingham was annoyingly vastly delayed, and I had to spend last night in Hannover and get up extremely early to get the train down here before the competition started at nine o'clock. So, deprived of sleep as well as training, I didn't expect any great results today, and my faith was justified.

The competition starts with my two weakest events - names and faces, at which I'm just rubbish, and images, for which I can't fall back on all the training I did ten years ago like I can with the other disciplines. Then we had the three half-marathons - in 30-minute numbers I found myself very nearly actually falling asleep during memory, so I played it safe and just went for 1000 digits. And I got a nearly perfect recall for a score of 900 (which must mean that as well as two memory mistakes, I must have mis-read or mis-written a digit somewhere). Then in 30-minute binary (after a quick power-nap during the lunch break) I decided to go for the kind of score I'd go for if I'd been training, six full journeys, 4680 digits, and see what happened. What happened was that I could hardly recall a single one or zero, but that's okay, because all practice is good practice. And then in 30-minute cards I just went for a safe, no-stress 12 packs, and I should have got them all correct unless I made a silly mistake somewhere. I probably did.

So nothing spectacular, but it's all good fun. I'm glad I didn't give up and go home when I saw how delayed my plane was - I posted a poll on Facebook and asked people to tell me whether or not I should still go to Germany, mentioning the important fact that I've got a really great book (How To Invent Everything, by Ryan North of Squirrel Girl fame) and haven't had enough sleep lately, so spending three days in bed alternately sleeping and reading would have been awesome. But everyone told me to go to Germany anyway.

Enough of me, let's mention the other people who are here, because it's totally wonderful to see the German Championship back on the calendar! It was always a major highlight of the memory year, and with Klaus back in the driving seat, ably assisted by Hannes and many others, it's as cool as ever! We've got a whole lot of competitors from around Europe - most notably Simon, who's winning everything as usual, and particularly Bastian Wiederhold, another graduate of the German junior competitions, who's getting some really great results across the board!

Day two tomorrow; now I'm going to sleep and read about how to make everything you need if you find yourself trapped in ancient times by a malfunctioning time machine.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Well, I'm jetting off to Magdeburg this evening, where we'll interrupt the town's usual pastimes involving pulling hemispheres apart with horses and hold the German Memory Championship, a thing I haven't gone to for years and years! Still haven't done any training, and I think that's even more likely to be an issue with the longer disciplines here than with the quick ones in Korea, but I'm sure it'll get me all fired up to do better in all these other competitions coming up in the next few months! I'm still not 100% sure I can go to any of them, but it's at least half-likely.

And having taken the day off work today to sort out things around the new house, I can safely report that it's 11:25 and the things have already been sorted out! I didn't expect this impressive kind of service, but I've had broadband installed, a huge number of bookcases delivered and a large amount of food delivered by someone else, all quickly and cleanly with no fuss at all! I could go back to bed for a couple of hours before I need to head out to the airport!

And I've already moved an impressive chunk of my possessions over here, considering I don't need to be out of the old place for another two weeks. And I've packed my rucksack, shuffled my cards, printed out flight details, not lost my passport or the €90 or so in euros I've had in my kitchen drawer since whenever it was I last went to euro-land... I'm efficient! How did that happen?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Get yourself registered!

Registration is open for the IAM World Memory Championship in December! Go and sign up, because it's a first-come-first-served kind of thing with limited capacity, unless you're in the world top 50.

Since by some strange quirk of the calculations I am still in the top 50, I'm safe to register, if only I knew if I could get the time of work to attend. There are also ten wild card spots, which seem to be tailor-made for me ("Example: A former champion wishes to make a comeback and only decides to enter at a late stage of the registration process, once all other places are already taken.") so I could wait around for that, but then there'd probably be ten much cooler people than me who also leave it till the last minute...

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Paint the sky with stars

I'm back among the brainwashed masses of television-watchers - Sky TV people came to plug me in this morning. One of them said he recognised my face and asked if he'd installed Sky at my old place, and I said no, but you've maybe seen me on telly, I'm a memory man. He agreed that maybe that was where he'd seen me, but then I was suddenly racked with doubt - could he actually have been the person who installed Sky for me when I lived in Belper? And I'm just telling him I'm famous when I'm quite clearly not?

But I'm almost certain he didn't, and that I therefore am famous. And anyway, he went on to tell me that he once installed Sky for someone who sat down at the piano while he was there, played a famous tune and told him he wrote it and got paid lots of money for it. I'm not that bad. I didn't even show him my trophies, although that's mainly because I haven't moved them from my old flat yet.