Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tolkien Mailing Competition

The Tolkien Mailing Competition (TLV) is announced internationally for the second time this year, and I am personally very proud of this: the TLV, and especially the international category is one of the few things mentioned in this blog which is actually (partly) my doing and not only that of a society I belong to. I am part of the TLV organiser team since I joined the community, and I was the one who came up with the idea of the international category (originally it was a passing advice of a schoolmate to me when I felt being without goals, but it took me years to take it seriously).

What is the TLV? During the year it is mostly about tasks we send to the competitors in five rounds and solutions they send back: in the first years by traditional post, nowadays almost exclusively via e-mail. Among them there are quizzes, riddles, crosswords, odd-one-outs and creative tasks of drawing, writing or even composing. Originally it was a competition only for teams of schoolchildren, just like "normal" competitions of Chemistry or Literature. They had three categories for the different levels of knowledge in the world of Tolkien (and in the first year also a category for individuals who have seen the movies but haven't read the book, to make them do so). But surely life does not stop after high school? Or at the borders? So the possibility of participation shouldn't, either.

First in 2012 we started a category for Hungarian adults in English, called "Glaurung". Not many people were interested in it, but at least it proved we are able to do this in English. Next year we decided to dream big, launched the "Quendi" category, and wrote about it to all Tolkien society which we could find an e-mail address to. It was a success. The enthusiastic answers for these e-mails were already heart-warming, and afterwards we got 35 applications from 16 different countries. 17 competitors sent their solutions for the first round from Croatia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Lithuania, Slovakia, Spain, Russia and Ukraine. 

But what have the pictures of all this food have to do with the competition? Though it is impossible for the international participants, for the traditional categories there is also a sixth round: a live final. Since 2009 it is held in the beautiful palace rooms of the Main Building of the City Library of Budapest. There are various challenges to face on the spot, like finding quotes and copying a picture only by the description of a team-mate, but competitors also expected to arrive in costumes and bring foods, both fitting to the world of Middle-Earth. This is the only day when the participants meet each other and the volunteers of our society, the glorious day which makes the children realise they are not alone with their daydreaming, and make a lot of the members of our community realise how great this Tolkien Mailing Competition is. I know. I was a participant in the very first one...

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