Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Mind Sports Olympiad 2017!

You can now register for the MSO - the timetable is here!

I really recommend going along to this, it's always a lot of fun. Take your pick from a week's worth of mind games, try something new or something you haven't played for years! Here's what I'm probably doing...

The first two days, Sunday and Monday, August 21-22, we have the European Memory Championship (open to everybody around the whole world, we already have confirmed competitors from Asia, North and South America and I bet we can complete the set by luring some Africans and Australians into the mix as well; the MSO traditionally likes everything to be a world championship, but it'd be a bit silly to keep the title "Memory World Cup" going when there's going to be two other world memory championships elsewhere in the world this year..).

This is an international-standard event, split into three "modules" that MSO all-rounders can pick and choose from as they please, but with the total scores added up in the usual way. So Sunday gives us our three half-hour marathons - numbers, cards and binary, 30 minutes to memorise, 60 minutes to recall. This starts at 10am and finishes safely before 6pm, so you can do one of the evening sessions in another sport if you like.

Day two, Monday, is split into two sections - the morning session (10:00am to 1:45pm) is "natural memory", with 15-minute names, 15-minute words, and 5-minute images. This is the kind of thing a newcomer could walk in off the street without knowing the first thing about memory techniques and still do well in.

The afternoon section is the miscellany of speed disciplines - 5-minute numbers, 5-minute dates, spoken numbers and speed cards. A little mini-championship in its own right of the fastest disciplines you can find in a big international competition like this!

Entry fee is £15 for the marathon memory, £10 for each of the others, making £35 in total for the "European Championship". Or you can pay £120 for a whole-week ticket and play in as many MSO events as you like. You should!

Okay, what shall I do for the rest of the week? In the evening session on Sunday there's the always-entertaining daily poker tournament, and this one is everybody's favourite, Texas hold'em. It's a great way to end the day! But we also have the othello championship that night - 15-minute games, an MSO tradition - so I think I'll do that.

Monday evening gives us London lowball, which I think I somehow won a medal in the last time I played, but there's also the mental calculation blitz, which might be a lot of fun. It's way too long since I did mental calculations!

Tuesday, with the memory out of the way, I can start playing games for the rest of the week. Let's see.. there's acquire, a very fun game, in the morning/afternoon double session, or else I could play the morning session at quoridor (I wasn't very good at that one the one time I've tried it before) or the big mental calculation championship, then in the afternoon session play continuo (always a good way to spend an afternoon). In the evening it's Omaha in the poker, or the really great new game blokus, or the really great old game backgammon (the no-doubling-die version,so outrageously lucky rolls of the dice can make all the difference), which is a tricky choice.

Wednesday there's that MSO favourite the decamentathlon in the morning, I think I'll have to do that. If you're new to the MSO experience, it consists of written puzzles in ten different mind sports events - brilliant stuff. The afternoon gives us mastermind, I've always liked that game. The evening gives us five-card draw poker, or else another MSO favourite, oware.

Thursday is all double-sessions in the daytime - I think I might do monopoly, I've always said I'd like to do that at the MSO but never actually played it there before! Pineapple hold'em in the evening is a must.

Friday I think the pick of the bunch is the double-session lines of action, a really cool game that stretches your brain in unusual ways. I'm no good at it, but I like to play anyway. Alternatively, there's cribbage singles in the morning and doubles in the afternoon if I can find a partner. No evening session on Fridays, or anything at all on Saturdays - the venue is a Jewish community centre and they're big on observing the shabbat.

So we resume on Sunday 28th, with maybe a day of rapidplay chess, or more likely (since I'm still hopeless at chess and need to maintain everyone's vague impression that it's something I'd obviously be good at) a morning session of kenken and sudoku puzzles! Followed by either Chinese chess (I do like that game, though I haven't played for a good few years now) or else the traditional brilliance of the creative thinking world championship. In the evening we have seven-card stud, or maybe twixt (it's a good game) or I could get all nostalgic about my schooldays and play exchange chess...

And the last day, bank holiday Monday, there's a new-to-the-MSO Countdown event that I think I'll have to enter. I always wanted to be on Countdown...

So that's the week-and-a-bit of the MSO! See you there!