Mind Sports Olympiad 2013 & 2014

The Mind Sports Olympiad is now over for 2013, but next year’s event has already been confirmed for the same venue. Old names and new were among this year’s prize winners.

The 2013 Pentamind winners: Ankush Khandelwal and Andres Kuusk.

According to Etan Ilfeld, this year’s MSO saw over eight hundred event entries with approximately two hundred unique competitors. Although this is a far cry from the glory days of the first four events, it was a creditable turnout.

This year there were some new games: Renju, Starcraft 2, and Tetris. There was also Computer Programming.

Although new to MSO, Renju has been around for quite a while. Of Japanese origin, it is similar to the ancient Chinese game Go. Starcraft 2 is a video game – it had to happen sometime. Tetris is a more thematic MSO game; although it started as a computer game, it has moved into the real world as a bona fide board game.

The full results can be found on the official website, but here are a few highlights.

The Pentamind was won jointly by Andres Kuusk of Estonia and chess player Ankush Khandelwal. Although a relative newcomer, Andres has already run up an impressive tally of medals; Ankush is a veteran in spite of his youth. Unsurprisingly he won the Olympiad rapidplay tournament (25 Minutes) and was third in the Olympiad Championship. Andres was runner up in this; although he is rated below Ankush he is currently ranked 33 of active players in his home country; Ankush is rated 296 in the UK, but our population is more than 20 times that of Estonia.

The Ladies Pentamind has not been well patronised in the past, to put it mildly, but this year a title was awarded. Emily Watson won the gold, and Madeleine Heppell was runner up; although a veteran player, Mrs Heppell is best known as the mother of twin chess playing sons, one of whom was third behind Andres and Ankush as well as winning the pot limit 7 card stud with Ankush winning the 5 card draw, and another veteran, Tige Nnando winning 2 golds, a silver and a bronze, which you might have thought would have been enough to win the overall title, but this went to Mike Dixon.

George Lane won the mental calculations, which in view of his previous achievements will have surprised no one. George has played every MSO except the first one.

Alexander Hassabis first appeared at the MSO as a babe in arms; now all of seven years old, he took Junior Gold in his first ever tournament, Settlers Of Catan.

Although he doesn’t play a lot nowadays, proud Dad Demis was once an MSO regular, and won the Pentamind in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003. This begs an obvious question...time will tell.

So what of next year? The timetable has already been published; the 18th Mind Sports Olympiad will be held from August 15-24, 2014. It will feature some new or relatively new games. If you have invented a new game, don’t be afraid to submit it for a future event; MSO is also looking for sponsorship for individual tournaments, and can be contacted through its website.

The oldest competitor at this year’s MSO was 89 year old Bernard Morgan,
who picked up a bronze medal for dominoes.

Starcraft 2 players.

Demis Hassabis and Ankush Khandelwal at the Tetris table.
Looking on is Pentamind silver medalist Madeleine Heppell.

[The above article was first published September 10, 2013. Photographs supplied by Etan Ilfeld.]

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