Monday, March 13, 2017

French memories

That was a fun competition! The scores are online here and more-or-less accurate - it was an exciting battle all the way through between Simon and Johannes, with me a fairly distant third but still producing the kind of decent results I was entirely happy with, considering how very long it is since I even sat down with a real pack of cards or a piece of paper to memorise. And our gallant band of French memorisers all put in great performances, particularly Sylvain Estadieu - he's going to be a force to be reckoned with before long, I'm sure.

I'll see if I can get into some kind of regular training and start competing again - this one has achieved its aim of getting me in the memory mood, I think (old-fashioned memory, that is; I've been in the Memory League mood for months). The only problem is that the only memory championships in this country are run by me nowadays, and travelling to other places costs all that money I'm trying not to spend right now...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Other important things about the competition

The lift up to the competition room (on the first floor of the Espace Moncassin) doesn't go 'ding' like normal lifts, it plays a tone of exactly the same pitch and length of the first note of Sloop John B by the Beach Boys. So that's my mental soundtrack to the championship.

Also, I can confirm that there is such a thing as the Eiffel Tower - I saw it with my own eyes last night. It lights up after dark, too!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

D*ff

The most important thing I learned today - on the French dubbed version of the Simpsons, the Duff beer logo is blurred out, because it's an actual real beer now, and so contravenes product placement laws, even in episodes made when it was just a fictional thing. That's weird.

Anyway, there has also been the first day of the French Open Memory Championship! The one in 2008 attracted only two French competitors, a French-only competition in 2015 drew in eight, but this year's event breaks all the records - nineteen entrants in total, 13 of them French! That's enough for a national Memory League event!

It's the first old-fashioned memory championship I've competed in since the UK Championship in August 2015, and my complete and total lack of training shows, but it's still been fun! All the new French competitors have identical dark hair, glasses and beards, so I'm not at all to blame for not remembering who's who, but it's a two-day competition so I'm sure by the end of the day tomorrow I'll be familiar with them all.

I'll write a full report just as soon as I can get round to it - meanwhile, I've got a French dub of the Simpsons to distract me - most characters' voices are imitations of the American originals, but for some reason Krusty is totally different; he's got a sort of deep, booming voice. Foreign countries are strange and different.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

And the whole world loves it when you're in the news

News websites the world over are running memory-related stories today! It's fair to say that 99% of them have latched onto a soundbite that "scientists have said something about memory" and used it as an excuse to fill a column with the usual blurb about the subject (here's the BBC's typical example), but there is some genuine Science behind this one - Boris and his gang's investigation into the brains of memory competitors, including me. Here's the actual science-stuff. I don't understand a word of it, but it scores points for not being illustrated by a picture of Basil Rathbone. Or some other thicko.

Friday, February 24, 2017

And speaking of memory

When I booked my flights and hotel tonight, I booked them all for next weekend instead of the weekend after, had to cancel everything and start again, and thought "I'll write something witty about that on my blog when I write about going to this competition..." And then I forgot to mention it. They shouldn't let people with terrible memories go to memory championships, it's a disgrace.

I love Paris in the springtime!

I haven't really mentioned it before, but 2017 for me is dedicated to living economically and paying off the vast debt I accumulated over the course of my last "career break", as I call those times when I spend a year and a half not bothering to work for a living. Because it took me longer than I expected to get back into a proper job that pays me decent money, I've ended up with a lot to work off before I can get back to financial liberty and not need to work any more. But now I'm working for an undeservedly high salary and living in a perfectly nice cheap bedsit down the road from the office, I'm in a position of earning much more than I spend, allowing me to devote huge sums of money every month to paying off my credit cards and loans and things.

And because I really have been good about not spending money to excess just lately, I've decided to reward myself by spending money to excess, and going to Paris in a fortnight's time for the French Memory Open 2017! Blog-readers with good memories (I'm sure there must be some of you who fall into that category) may recall that the first ever memory competition in France happened in 2008, and I was there. Now, nine years later, there's another open championship in that much-neglected-memorywise country, and I'll be there again, along with the cream of European (and American) memory talent!

I've done no training, of course, except for a whole lot of Memory League rapid-fire stuff, but this is deliberate, in a way. Going to a competition, as I've said before, is the best way to get me in the mood to practice for the next competition!

I really must try to see the Eiffel Tower this time. I've been to Paris something like four times before, and never actually seen the thing. For all I know, it doesn't really exist, but since everybody asks me if I've seen it every time I come back home, I ought to make the effort this time round.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Memory sports 2017 is go!

Yes, this year's memory competition season is in full Korea (career), with the weekend's competition in Seoul now completed, and Johannes Mallow the champion - it was a thrilling event, he fought off not just his usual arch-rival Simon Reinhard, but the latest threat to emerge from Ulaanbataar, the sisters Munkhshur and Enkhshur Narmandakh. Six people did a pack of cards under 30 seconds!

I wrote a full account of it, or as full as can be done by reading the scores and everyone's Facebook and Twitter posts, which might appear on memory-sports.com at some point in the future. Check it out, I promise it won't contain any terrible puns like the one I started this blog entry with.

Monday, February 13, 2017

I could be the Middle-Aged Memory Master!

An update from the upcoming Korean Memory Championship made me giggle...

"Announcement about Awards and prize.
2017 KOMC have announced that the competition would have 6 categories of age groups.
But we revised a couple of days ago.
To sum up, we concluded that the competition will have 5 categories with binding two junior parts (middle school + high school juniors)
So we have
1. Kids (- 12)
2. Juniors (13-17)
3. Adults (18-39)
4. Adults (40-59)
5. Seniors (60- )
In fact, this action occurred due to the mistaken knowledge of the international age.
As a korean, People think of themselves as adults at the age of 19.
Therefore, a high school student, who is 18 years old, does not think that anyone is an adult in Korea.
However, some countries, not Korea, recognize it as adults from the age of 18.
And as we will have an open memory championships for international competitors, we have to apply age system according to global common sense.
As you know, in last memory competitions, we applied age system like below:
1. Kids (- 12)
2. Juniors (13-17)
3. Adults (18-59)
4. Seniors (60- )
We, organizers thought that it was very unfair to compete between 18 and 59.
So we split the division as young adults and middle ages adults.
Also, we wanted to split Juniors into 2 parts, middle school's and high school's.
When it happened, we concluded that the match just between the ages of 16 and 17 was not reasonable.
And it could be confusing for foreign competitors who have joined to other competitions before.
We have 5 age categories in this competition with dividing the adults category.
(The Junior section is still likely to need discussion forward)
It will be applied to events awards also.
(Gold, Silver, Bronze medals in every events in every age categories)
Your age will be counted as this year minus year of the birth like other memory competitions.
Sorry for confusion and thanks for your participation!
Thanks.
Gyewon Jeong,
Organizer of Korea Open Memory Championship."

I'm still as firmly opposed as ever to the silliness of awarding prizes in memory competitions based on age, gender, nationality and so forth - to my mind, the single biggest selling point of these championships is that everybody competes on equal terms! I think it makes the whole thing just laughable when there's a million different gold medals to be handed out at the end of the day.

But... I'm 40 now. The really good memory people at these competitions are, by and large, still under 40. This would be the perfect time to compete somewhere that gives prizes for these age groups, and then make myself a set of business cards proclaiming myself to be the Middle Aged Memory Champion! I need to do that, and fast, before all my 30-something rivals catch up with me.