Sunday, February 18, 2018


Another reason I need to play more othello, which I forgot to mention in my blog yesterday (to be fair, I wrote it after coming back from the traditional Saturday night Indian meal, which I also forgot to mention, but was very nice and came with booze) is that talking with Emmanuel and Matthias over lunch, we established that they've been to more countries for othello reasons than I've been to for memory-related things.

I think my total is 14, including the UK - Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Turkey, USA, Brazil, China, Japan, Malaysia, Bahrain. Are there any others I've forgotten? I bet there are. So I should definitely try to play the other EGP tournaments and add places like Poland and the Netherlands to my mind-sports passport-stamp collection.

In any case, today wasn't very spectacular for me, although it started out okay with a very fun and complicated game against Benkt which I was probably losing all the way through but felt like it could have gone either way and ended up 33-31 to him. I then beat Remi Tastet, son of Marc, and lost not too heavily to Tom, leaving me on five points and hopeful of getting to six and beating the 50% target I always aim for at these things. But then I made a complete pig's ear of my final game against Bruce, and was completely slaughtered, to finish on only five, and well below the half-way mark.

1:  10.  pts [903]   TASTET Marc (2) {FRA}
  2:   8.  pts [911]   BERG Matthias (5301) {DEU}
               [855]   WETTERGREN Niklas (150009) {SWE}
               [831]   LEADER Imre (79) {GBR}
  5:   7.5 pts [840]   KORTENDIJK Albert (5012) {NLD}
  6:   7.  pts [874]   EKLUND Oskar (150016) {SWE}
               [840]   SCHOTTE Tom (2795) {BEL}
               [825]   PLOWMAN Guy (320) {GBR}
               [814]   LAZARD Emmanuel (11) {FRA}
 10:   6.5 pts [862]   KASHIWABARA Takuji (839) {FRA}
               [727]   FREIBURGHAUS Kim (150060) {SWE}
 12:   6.  pts [838]   LEVY-ABEGNOLI Thierry (3598) {FRA}
               [805]   PRASEPTYO Linda (5159) {NLD}
               [792]   ROSSLER Daniel (70002) {DEU}
               [762]   KYTE Bruce (2078) {GBR}
               [759]   STEENTOFT Benkt (1301) {SWE}
               [751]   SNEEK Marcel (5083) {NLD}
               [680]   MURAWSKI Stefan (5324) {DEU}
 19:   5.5 pts [818]   DE GRAAF Jan C. (4012) {NLD}
 20:   5.  pts [734]   JOHANSSON Erik (1493) {SWE}
               [729]   PRIDMORE Ben (4019) {GBR}
               [669]   TASTET Remi (50053) {FRA}
               [661]   BRAND Richard (2341) {GBR}
               [646]   WIDMAN Linnea (150055) {SWE}
               [642]   PLOWMAN Luke (2069) {GBR}
               [610]   PLOWMAN Mark (100027) {GBR}
 27:   4.  pts [682]  -JORDAN Yvette (2093) {GBR}
               [599]   KLATTEN Linda (120116) {NLD}
               [586]   TASTET Sophie (50081) {FRA}
               [559]   BRAND Sophie (100026) {GBR}
               [547]   PLOWMAN Jessie (100029) {GBR}
 32:   3.  pts [539]   BRAND Henry (100023) {GBR}
 33:   2.  pts [500]  -JORDAN David (100040) {GBR}
               [483]  -PLOWMAN Anya (100037) {GBR}
 35:   1.  pt  [466]   BRAND Lucy (100025) {GBR}

That gave us a final between Marc and Matthias, a third-place playoff between Niklas and Imre, and a children's final (new innovation!) between Remi and Mark (Luke doesn't count as a child any more; I forget what the age limit is but he's all grown up nowadays). I'm sure these games have happened by now, but I had to leave to get the train (and rail-replacement-bus between Leicester and Nuneaton) back here.

But there'll be more othello to come this year! It's my latest resolution!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The old combination

"You don't remember me?" said Matthias Berg, who is a) someone I've met multiple times before now, and b) a really big deal in the world of international othello tournaments. "Of course I do," I lied unconvincingly, "I'm just making sure to ask everyone's name, because you know what my memory's like..."

Yes, it's the delights of the Cambridge International, the awesomest othello competition on these shores every year, attended by a whole host of Europe's finest players! And after the slight awkwardness of me having to get everybody's entry fees and pretend that I know who they are, it's a whole lot of fun! 35 players in all (you can see them all listed below if you want to keep up with the gossip), and other people hanging around but not playing included Adelaide, David Beck, Akke-Lien and assorted other Plowmen and Brend (that's the plural of Brand), making it a crowded gathering in the Old Combination Room at Trinity College.

We've got stylish new trophies, thanks to the generosity of the manufacturer, as well as the perpetual trophy, which needs a tiny bit of updating (the winner of each year is inscribed on a little shield - the winners from 2001-2008 are on temporary paper shields, after that they're not on it at all) but is still extremely groovy!

I was drawn against Erik Johansson, who I genuinely hadn't met before, in the first round, and managed a 40-24 win even though I hadn't played for so long. Then I was comprehensively beaten by Daniel Rößler and Matthias before lunch at the usual really nice university cafeteria. But in the afternoon, I won three out of four; beating Jan de Graaf, Linnea Widman and Marcel Sneek, with the only fly in the ointment being a tremendous thrashing by Takuji Kashiwabara in round 5.

At one point I had a proud 100% win record against Takuji, having beaten him in 2003 and then never getting drawn to play against him again. I don't remember if it was still going until today, but it's definitely gone now.

But that leaves me on four wins out of seven, with another four rounds of swiss to play tomorrow, and I'm just slightly above the half-way point on the leaderboard!

 1:   6.  pts [497]   EKLUND Oskar (150016) {SWE}
               [449]   TASTET Marc (2) {FRA}
  3:   5.  pts [501]   BERG Matthias (5301) {DEU}
               [459]   SCHOTTE Tom (2795) {BEL}
               [458]   WETTERGREN Niklas (150009) {SWE}
               [449]   LEVY-ABEGNOLI Thierry (3598) {FRA}
               [432]   LAZARD Emmanuel (11) {FRA}
               [424]   LEADER Imre (79) {GBR}
  9:   4.5 pts [475]   DE GRAAF Jan C. (4012) {NLD}
               [391]   FREIBURGHAUS Kim (150060) {SWE}
 11:   4.  pts [433]   PRASEPTYO Linda (5159) {NLD}
               [418]   PLOWMAN Guy (320) {GBR}
               [409]   ROSSLER Daniel (70002) {DEU}
               [398]   KYTE Bruce (2078) {GBR}
               [383]   STEENTOFT Benkt (1301) {SWE}
               [371]   PRIDMORE Ben (4019) {GBR}
               [351]   TASTET Remi (50053) {FRA}
 18:   3.5 pts [441]   KASHIWABARA Takuji (839) {FRA}
               [387]   KORTENDIJK Albert (5012) {NLD}
 20:   3.  pts [390]   JOHANSSON Erik (1493) {SWE}
                       SNEEK Marcel (5083) {NLD}
               [353]   KLATTEN Linda (120116) {NLD}
               [344]   WIDMAN Linnea (150055) {SWE}
               [325]   TASTET Sophie (50081) {FRA}
               [321]   BRAND Richard (2341) {GBR}
                       MURAWSKI Stefan (5324) {DEU}
               [317]   PLOWMAN Mark (100027) {GBR}
               [311]   PLOWMAN Luke (2069) {GBR}
               [291]   BRAND Sophie (100026) {GBR}
 30:   2.  pts [336]   JORDAN Yvette (2093) {GBR}
               [285]   BRAND Henry (100023) {GBR}
               [269]   PLOWMAN Jessie (100029) {GBR}
               [253]   PLOWMAN Anya (100037) {GBR}
 34:   1.  pt  [252]   JORDAN David (100040) {GBR}
               [248]   BRAND Lucy (100025) {GBR}

I really need to play more othello. I think I might make this my new project - applying memory techniques to the game, and seeing how much I can memorise! We'll see how it goes...

Friday, February 16, 2018

Last minute dot com

Having found out I don't have to do something else this weekend (it's a something else I might hopefully be able to tell you all about, some time), I'm on my way to Cambridge for the othello EGP tournament! Barring unforeseen delays and things that stop me getting there, anyway. But it's good to be back in the othello world - maybe I'll make a proper effort to play more, and go to all the regionals this year!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A very memorable person

Rest in peace, Grandma. It was a very nice funeral, exactly what she would have wanted - thanks to Pam for arranging everything.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The League

You've probably heard me mention it once or twice before, but the place to be right now (if you're at all interesting in competitive memorising) is the Memory League.

It's a place for fast-paced head-to-head memory contests where the aim is to remember cards, names, numbers, images or words faster and more accurately than your opponent. The super-cool thing about it is that you can watch what's happening in people's games live, as they flick from one thing to another in the memory time, and fill in the gaps in the recall. And chat live with other watchers and players too! Seriously, there's no cooler memory thing in the world at the moment.

There is also, naturally, a league championship. It's divided into divisions, with the usual promotion/relegation from one season to another, so whatever your level, you get regular matches against people of the same kind of ability. Each player chooses their three favourite disciplines, and have a six-discipline match (with the option of playing a seventh if it finishes 3-3 and both players can agree on a final decider discipline). It's great fun for everyone! Let's have a look at how division 2 is shaping up lately:

After some wrangling and debate before the start of the season, it was agreed that you can't go straight into division 1 if you didn't play in the season before, even if you're among the best players in the world. So we had four new people who are amazingly good joining division 2 from the four corners of the world (if you arrange the map in a really weird way so that the four corners are all in Asia or eastern Europe), and they're dominating things right now. The top two get automatically promoted, the next two play off against division 1 players, and it's anyone's guess which of Yanjaa, Alex, SC and YeBo will make it into the top two.

Below them, there's a right old ding-dong among the remaining twelve of us - there have been some epic matches! I'm playing Clay tomorrow, and really want to get a win, to pull me away from the relegation battle. Come along and watch, 4pm GMT!

Saturday, February 03, 2018

The need for speed

Among the many people I admire in this world are the ones who do cool things with old video games. Here's a wonderful YouTube video chronicling in minute detail the things people have done to shave a fraction of a second off their time in a Super Mario Bros speedrun. It's awesome.

Incidentally, although Sonic the Hedgehog is better than Mario in every way, Mario's more fun to do speedrun things with. But the point is, this is exactly the kind of thing people do with the speed cards memory record, except it's all happening in our heads instead of on a TV screen for everyone to see. We definitely need to invent some sort of mind-projecting device if we're ever going to make memory competitions as cool and popular among the nerds of the world as it deserves to be!

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Magic Sphere

According to Blogger's stats page, I've had absolutely oodles of pageviews in the last day or so, directed at the Hourman-themed post from last November. It makes me nervous when people read my blog like that. I don't really write these things in any kind of expectation that people will read them. What if it's a horde of American lawyers? Lots of people write that kind of thing about comics on the internet, and they often bandy about phrases like "brief excerpts for review purposes", which apparently makes everything okay, but I still worry. I'll just convince myself it's an invading horde of robots. Nobody's scared of robots.