The 24th annual Mind Sports Olympiad (MSO) finished up on August 30th after one month of tough online competition. Contestants put their skills to the test in games like Speed Reading, Catan, Scrabble, and Chess. The MSO offered 100 events and eight meta events where scores of individual events were tallied and combined with their connected country.
A total of 106 countries participated in the competition, with 56 countries earning medals. New countries took part this year for the first time, including Bolivia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Moldova, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uzbekistan Zimbabwe.
- The Pentamind documentary debuted in 2019 right before the Olympiad took place.
- In 2019, the event introduced five new chess variants.
- For the 2020 Pentamind, Ankush Khandelwal won for the third consecutive year.
OUSC updated this post with the latest information regarding the Mind Sports Olympiad 2020. Read more about the Mind Sports Olympiad 2020 Winners below.
What is the Mind Sports Olympiad?
The event started as “the brainchild” of Tony Buzan, David Levy, and Raymond Keene, as the event manager Etan Ilfeld stated in his interview with OUSC. Ilfeld has been running the Mind Sports Olympiad since 2010.
The Mind Sports Olympiad features more than 60 different board game championships. Participants compete for the gold, silver, and bronze as they do in the far more famous Olympic Games. The games range from chess, poker, scrabble, and backgammon to Catan, Liar’s Dice, Azul, and Dominoes.
Pentamind World Championship Documentary
In 2019, the event showcased a documentary called Pentamind directed by Hassan Amini. The documentary premiered on August 6th, and had an additional screening at JW3 on August 20th.
The story follows the lives of five past winners as they try to regain the Pentamind World Champion title. The documentary’s goal was to present the event in all its glory, including the cruel world of competitive board gaming and its consequences.
It draws a parallel between the players who are doing it for the love of the game, and those who seek the glory of victory. After the initial screening, the documentary moved on to several festivals, followed by a global distribution goal.
What is the Pentamind?
The Pentamind World Championship is a unique event that celebrates the best all-round games player in the world. Any event at Mind Sports Olympiad can count towards that year’s Pentamind. Furthermore, the player with the highest top five scores is named the Pentamind World Champion.
The Game of Kings Gets a Remake
Chess, often referred to as the game of kings, received even more additions in 2019. According to the official announcement of 2019’s Chess Bonanza at the Mind Sports Olympiad, the competition introduced Color Chess on August 25th.
New Chess Variants
A new addition to the 2019 event is the Chess Variants. The different games challenged the players’ chess skills in new and exciting ways. With the range of options at their disposal, there is hardly room for letdowns. Blitz, Chess Problem Solving (Puzzle), Exchange Chess, and Rapid are part of the championships.
While the gameplay mostly stays the same, these innovative additions turned heads as their popularity spread beyond the Mind Sports Olympiad.
New Tiebreak System
The Swiss Perfect principle was introduced as the best method in cases of pairing two-player games. Scrabble will not be subject to these rules yet. The same cannot be said about Entropy and Backgammon.
This system enhances the focus to keep the action as smooth as possible. Monitoring and analyses will be conducted throughout the process with the possibility of future alterations.
Nevertheless, resolving ties is bound to be more of a challenge than a hassle with the change.
Celebrating the Diversity of Games
With so many new additions to this beloved tournament, the 2019 Mind Sports Olympiad was an instant success for all gaming enthusiasts. With a diverse mix of games now official with each new tournament series, the MSO offers something for everyone.
Last Winners Standing
The Pentamind is arguably the hottest topic of discussion at the Mind Sports Olympiads in the last couple of years. It has posed a challenge to the greatest minds from all over the world, helping the judges determine the best of the best.
This year, that title went to last year’s champion, Ankush Khandelwal. Winning the Gold medal on behalf of his homeland Britain, Ankush Khandelwal was officially declared the winner for the fourth time and the third consecutive year.
Ankush won the Gold Pentamind this year, along with eight additional medals. He claimed Gold in Marco Polo, Bridge Pairs, Liars Dice (Perudo), Acquire, and Eurogames. Ankush earned Silver in Backgammon 5pt Speed Knockout as well as Agricola. He won a Bronze medal for Seven Wonders.
Silver and Bronze Titles
The Silver and Bronze titles would go to Jordi Alexander of Cyprus and Joe Mela of England. Jordi also scored a Gold in Cities and Knights and Lost Cities: Gold. He won Silver in Twilight Struggle, Jaipur, Chess Three Check 2min Arena, and Bronze in Battle Sheep (Knockout).
For Mela, he won Goldin Speed Reading and Battle Sheep (Swiss). He finished in Silver for Can’t Stop.
The Memory Wiz Champion
In 2019, the Mind Sports Olympiad proved rather exciting, with many other contestants achieving great feats with their mental skills. The Memory Champion, Andrea Muzii, for one, drew the attention of the global public with his short videos demonstrating his memory skills at work. Considering the records he managed to break, viewers are reasonably at a loss for words.