It's that time of the year, everyone - qualifying for the Extreme Memory Tournament starts next Monday!
Go to the training website, sign up, pay a little bit of money if you have to, it's worth it, and take part in the qualification tournament!
I have to qualify this year, and it makes me nervous. I did a practice run yesterday and got some pretty good scores (400 points' worth), which most people think would be enough to get into the tournament, though I'm a little concerned that there'll be some extremely big scores from a lot of people this time round...
The thing about qualifying is that you really want to end up in the top four of the sixteen qualifying competitors - the top eight from last year will (I assume) be the top eight seeds again, which should mean that when everyone's drawn into six groups for the XMT itself, the top four qualifiers will get into pot two (along with Jonas and Enkhjin) and theoretically have a slightly easier group stage draw. Although the top six seeds are all pretty scary (Hannes, Boris, Simon, Alex, Katie, Christian), so there really isn't going to be a super-easy draw for anyone.
But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it! The first step is to qualify, starting with speed cards, and my aim there is to get a time better than the 100-points record of 23.34 seconds. I did 23.33 in my practice session yesterday, so that counts as a success!
I'm flying to China on the 19th and back on the 29th, which will get in the way a little, or a lot. I think I'll have to do the images qualification on the 18th before I go, since I'll be spending the remainder of the week in Nanjing rehearsing and performing, and then do the names qualification on the weekend after I return, since I'll be spending the first half of the week in Harbin with probably little access to the internet and a lot of access to beer and a brother I haven't hung out with for ages. But we'll see how it goes!
And if you're keen to read about actual memory competitions, rather than prospective qualification for future competitions, you really must check out new World Memory Champion Alex Mullen's account of how he won, thoroughly squishing my two remaining world records along the way. I think we can safely say that the top memory competitors' scores have now reached a level that makes my performances way back when look quite embarrassingly bad...