It was the third day of the event and the second competition day. For breakfast I joined a table with Andy Robertshaw, Ali Bayat Movahhed and Alexander Drygalla. Andy showed me a cool trick how to check for the divisibility of seven, eleven and thirteen in big numbers without calculating too much. Ali calculated some logarithms of Alexander while simultaneously talking with me, which was very impressive. Check out his website: http://www.movahhed.org/. Jan van Koningsveld stated that I drank the same tea as Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Earl Grey). Well that still does not qualify me for the Academy of Vulcan.

From 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. we were calculating again. First we did the second rounds of the addition, multiplication and square roots disciplines. I have already reported the results of both rounds.

During the break the young girl Pruthvi Mistry, a participant and abacist from India, explained me shortly how the abacus works. The abacus (also called counting frame) is a frame with staves with pearls. The pearls can slide up and down. With an abacus it is possible to perform the operations addition, subtraction but also multiplication, division and even square roots and cubic roots. The use of the abacus requires the knowledge of some basic operations. After one has learned these basic operations (by sliding pearls up or down) one can calculate very quickly with this instrument. Although an abacus can not replace a computer the abacus is much more than a toy for children. It is possible for adults to learn how to operate an abacus. Pruthvi Mistry demonstrated me that she could use the abacus very quickly.

Now it was time for the last three surprise disciplines. Not all competitors participated in these disciplines

In the fourth surprise tasks we had to break big numbers down into prime numbers. Gerald Newport was well prepared for this task.

These are the top four competitors in the fourth surprise discipline:

  • 1st place Gerald Newport (USA) 100.00 points
  • 2nd place Hua Wei Chan (Malaysia) 33.33 points
  • 3rd place Ali Bayat Movahhed (Iran) 27.78 points
  • 3rd place Andy Robershaw (Great Britain) 27.78 points

In the fifth surprise discipline participants had to handle fractions again. They had to write down if two fractions added or deducted from each other resulted in a lower or bigger result than the number in comparison. For example: Is 314/324 – 13/275 bigger or smaller than 91/99? I started calculating the easy ones but soon ran out of time. Since one could not get any negative points in this discipline I decided to skip calculating and to start estimating but that strategy did not work out very well for me.

These are the top three competitors in the fifth surprise discipline:

  • 1st place Gerald Newport (USA) 100.00 points
  • 2nd place Yusnier Viera (Cuba) 75.00 points
  • 3rd place Hua Wei Chan (Malaysia) 70.00 points

Now it was time for the final discipline the sixth surprise discipline

In this last discipline competitors should calculate the volume of a hemisphere (this task should be a reference to the experiment we did not see). The formula for this is 2/3 pi times the cubic of the diameter which in this case was something like 17.3 or 17.9. Once again Gerald was very good at this, in fact so good that all the other participants seemed like pupils in comparison to him (OK, some of them were pupils).

These are the top three competitors in the fifth surprise discipline:

  • 1st place Gerald Newport (USA) 100.00 points
  • 2nd place Hua Wei Chan (Malaysia) 07.17 points
  • 3rd place Andy Robertshaw (Great Britain) 05.09 points

All the other competitors got less than one point in this discipline!

After the disciplines were finished Melik Duyar announced the next Memoriad held in 2012. Further details can be found here: http://www.memoriad.com/

Now with all disciplines finished it was time for the relaxed part of the competition

From 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. there was a reception in the town hall by the Lord Mayor of Magdeburg Dr. Lutz Trümper organized by Dr. Klaus Puchta.

From 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. the award ceremony was held at the “Industrie- und Handelskammer” in Magdeburg. A local comedian (does anybody know his name?) presented the show and was very funny (assumed one could understand German). The participants showed some of their skills to the audience. Arturo Mendoza Huertas from Peru was most impressing. Within a delay of just 0.15 seconds he added two-digit numbers. Robin Wersig, Gerald Newport and Scott Flansburg, who is more an auditory than a visual calculator, along with Alonzo Lopez and Gunther Karsten made some demonstrations.

Now it was the time to announce the winners. Besides the single discipline winners the winners in the following categories were awarded:

Winners in the category Most Versatile Calculators (surprise disciplines)

  • 1st place Gerald Newport (USA) 481.65 points
  • 2nd place Ali Bayat Movahhed (Iran) 231.59 points
  • 3rd place Hua Wei Chan (Malaysia) 186.61 points
  • Winners in the category Memoriad Trophy

(Calendar Dates, Addition, Multiplication, Square Roots):

  • 1st place Priyanshi Somani (India) 303.78 points
  • 2nd place Marc Jornet Sanz (Spain) 294.67 points
  • 3rd place Alberto Coto (Spain) 260.06 points

The Ranking of the overall competition (called Combination) was as follows

  • 1st place Priyanshi Somani (India) 318.78 points
  • 2nd place Marc Jornet Sanz (Spain) 313.76 points
  • 3rd place Alberto Coto (Spain) 265.99 points
  • 4th place Gerald Newport (USA) 240.56 points
  • 5th place Jan van Koningsveld (Germany) 226.58 points
  • 6th place Yusnier Viera (Cuba) 221.73 points
  • 7th place Robert Fountain (Great Britain) 215.75 points
  • 8th place Freddis Reyes Hernández (Cuba) 184.94 points
  • 9th place Tina Bauer (Germany) 177.95 points
  • 10th place Hakan Gürbaslar (Turkey) 177.85 points

More detailed statistics about all the disciplines including lower positions can be found on this website: http://www.recordholders.org/en/events/worldcup/2010/results.html

Priyanshi Somani was a worthy winner, especially if you also consider her very young age of just eleven years. 16 years old Marc Jornet Sanz (a student of Alberto Coto) is not very much older. Alberto Coto is 40 years old. He thinks about retiring from the sport of mental calculation but his days are not counted yet if you ask me. Priyanshi got a lot of media attention and I am sure that we will hear more from here in the future. After everybody got their certificates, medals and cups and the press got their interviews we headed back to the hotel. During the dinner (the only meal participants had to pay for by themselves) Ralf asked who was willing and suited to join a steering board to take part in the future development of the Mental Calculation World Cup. At this time I was ready to relax and to enjoy my meal. Some of the participants were not tired and made new world record attempts, and some of them even succeeded. However, I did not keep track of this. You probably can find more information about this here: http://www.recordholders.org/en/list/memory.html. Instead I had a short conversation with Alberto Coto who is a down to earth person. Alberto explained to me how I could save some split seconds while adding 1000 numbers which sounded quite logic. On the highest level of mental calculation the change of columns is probably as important as the turnaround in swimming.

Later that evening I talked with Ralf. Ralf was not sure how to weigh the speed and the versatile parts in the future. I told him that if 40 percent of the disciplines result in 66 percent of the outcome the best strategy for every competitor is to focus on the four speed disciplines and to ignore the other 60 percent more or less except they head for a niche strategy. In memory sport some of the best competitors are doing exactly this because in memory sports when someone can master the number and playing cards disciplines this person already has secured 70 percent of the overall points. 2010 the top three ranking persons of the Memoriad trophy are exactly the same as the top three persons in the overall ranking. This is due to the fact that the four disciplines of the Memoriad trophy counted for 2/3 of the overall scores while the six surprise disciplines accounted for just 1/3 of the overall scores.

It might be interesting to see how the combination results would change if the surprise disciplines would be weighed heavier. Would the Combination result be calculated by ten percent of every task the results would be as follows for the top three competitors in the two major categories:

HYPOTHETICAL TABLE:

  • 1st place Gerald Newport (USA): 80.01*0.4 + 481.65 * 0.6 = 32.004 + 288.99 = 320.994
  • 2nd place Ali Bayat Movahhed (Iran): 41.80*0.4 + 231.59*0.6 = 16.72 + 138.954 = 155.674
  • 3rd place Priyanshi Somani (India): 303.78*0.4 + 42.84 * 0,6 = 127.224 + 25.704 = 152.928
  • 4th place Marc Jornet Sanz (Spain): 294.67 *0.4 + 57.26 *0.6 = 117.868 + 34.356 = 152.224
  • 5th place Hua Wei Chan (Malaysia): 96.3 * 0.4 + 186.61 * 0.6 = 38.52 + 111.966 = 150.486
  • 6th place Alberto Coto (Spain): 260.06*0.4 + 17.79 * 0.6 = 104.024 + 10.674 = 114.698

So now the 61-year old Gerald Newport would be the overall winner with a huge advance! Besides who is in favour of which rules it is interesting to see that high scores in one category are not necessary related to high scores in the other categories. Another thing that is interesting is that young people have better chances with the current rule while older people have better chances with the hypothetical rule. Older people are usually a little bit slower than younger people but have more experience which is needed for the surprise tasks. Well that should be enough speculation. As I decided not to join the steering board before I enter a top ten position in a mental calculation contest it is up to the members of the steering board to find a solution that is best suited for the future of this mental sport.

After more talking and some drinks we finished that evening. The next day we had an early breakfast and some of the competitors took the shuttle bus to Magdeburg train station. At the train station there was some confusion because some people asked for the Zoo which the staff at the train station interpreted as the Zoo in Magdeburg when in reality they wanted to travel to Berlin Zoo.

In conclusion I can say that this event was very well organized. The best mental calculators in the world could show their skills and got the attention they deserved. I enjoyed that I was invited to this brilliant event, that I could socialize with the other participants and that I had the opportunity to learn from the best.

My report about the Mental Calculation World Cup 2010 ends here. I have written this report two weeks after the event mainly from my memory without many notes I could refer to. If you find some mistakes in this article please inform me so that I can correct them. It would have been possible to include more persons and occurrences into this report but I feel that I have already stretched the length of this report to the limit and I do not want to delay its publication any further.