As things stand! The first Mind Sports Olympiad was held in London from August 18 to 24, 1997 at the Royal Festival Hall. In 2002, it moved out of the capital for several years before moving back in 2008. In 2014, it found what appears to be its permanent home, JW3 in North London.
MSO began all those years ago with great fanfare; the first four were truly spectacular events, the year 2000 saw an entire hall at Alexandra Palace being taken up with the Times Crossword competition. The trials and tribulations of MSO have been documented elsewhere, suffice it to say that it has slowly recovered, until in 2016 it reported over eleven hundred entries. Last year saw what was called a chess bonanza. There were also livestreams which can be found on its now long established YouTube channel.
Every year sees veterans coming together with new players, many of whom were not born until well after MSO was founded. The veterans include Italian multi-gamester Dario De Toffoli who was runner up in the 1997 Mastermind tournament and won no fewer than five medals last year.
Pictured above is now veteran Andres Kuusk of Estonia who won the Pentamind (for the first time) in 2011. With him is Etan Ilfeld who began as a player and now helps to run the event. In the background is chess organiser Tony Corfe who helped run the event from 1997.
A provisional schedule for this year’s event was revealed on February 25. As well as old favourites like chess and backgammon there is a new game called Battle Sheep. Yes, sheep, not ship! The event will run from August 23 to August 31 finishing as usual on the Bank Holiday Monday.
In the hopefully unlikely event MSO has to be cancelled, you can still play a wide variety of similar games on-line without the trials and tribulations of travel and hotel bills. Mind Sports also have a big following in Korea – the Braining Games. Perhaps they should invite Kim Jong-un to their next event?
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.