If it’s the week before the August Bank Holiday, it’s time for the annual Mind Sports Olympiad. This will be the nineteenth installment of the mental-games-and-skills-themed multi-sports festival. You know how the Olympic Games have some of the world’s most prestigious contests in many different physical sports? The principle behind the Mind Sports Olympiad was to try to emulate that for brain games. The budget has never really been there to attain this at the very top level, but the event has kept going year after year and developed its niche.
Some people prefer to focus their efforts on a single mind sport at the highest level they can attain, others take a much broader view that it’s more fun to compete at many different games, and the Mind Sports Olympiad is a great place for those who take the second viewpoint. This web site has a lot of sympathy with the principle. By analogy, some people like only exit games, others only logic puzzle contests, others only cryptic crosswords or mechanical puzzles or geocaching or one of maybe a dozen other things; this site tends to believe that if you like one but haven’t been exposed to the others then it may well be that you turn out to enjoy the others as well.
This year’s event runs from Sunday 23rd August to Monday 31st August and is held at JW3, the London Jewish cultural centre. (Accordingly, there is no play on the evening of Friday 28th or at all on Saturday 29th, being the Sabbath.) The most immediately relevant event to readers of this site is the contest in sudoku and kenken (also known as calcudoku – think killer sudoku, but with other mathematical operations as well as addition) on the morning of Sunday 30th August, which this year has £140 of prize money provided by sponsors. However, there are contests in scores of other mind sports as well, plus an open play room with a well-stocked games library open from 10am to 10pm each day.
Mark Goodliffe has won the contest for each of the last two years, so expect competition to be fierce – but if the event sounds interesting at all, you can read his write-up to get a better feel of what it’s like in practice. Perhaps the World Athletics Championships taking place at the moment are putting you in a competitive mood!