Mind Sports Olympiad less than three weeks away

The Mind Sports Olympiad opens in London on August 20. If you are a dab hand at backgammon, or even if you aren’t, why not enter one of the tournaments?

The 15th Mind Sports Olympiad begins at the London University Union on August 20. Although this event is a shadow of its former self, Tony Corfe and his small but dedicated team don’t know the meaning of the word defeat.

The brainchild of chess master and author David Levy, the first four MSOs were truly spectacular events; the inaugural Olympiad was held at the Royal Festival Hall from August 18-24, 1997. The fourth event, at Alexandra Palace in 2000, saw a massive hall filled with people who had entered a Times crossword competition, but after that, problems behind the scenes reduced both the sponsorship and the scale of the event; 2002 saw a move to the campus of Loughborough University, then Manchester, but the nadir was probably 2007 when Tony Corfe was reduced to holding the event in his local church hall at Potters Bar.

Last year, the London venue saw 158 players from 22 countries, with regular gamester Paco de la Banda of Spain winning the coveted Pentamind Championship.

This year as usual there is a special inclusive fee; £129 covers entry for as many event as desired – although overlapping tournaments are not permitted. The two day Olympiad Backgammon Championship has an entry fee of £15, as does the Monopoly tournament. The full timetable of events can be found here. If you happen to be holidaying in London, you might consider a session or two as an alternative to a trip to the theatre.

[The above article was first published August 1, 2011. The dude with the beard is Tony Corfe.]

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