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Mind Sports Organisation

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Mind Sports Organisation
Company typeMind sports
Founded1997 (1997)
FounderDavid Levy, Tony Buzan, Raymond Keene et al.
Key people
Etan Ilfeld (Event Coordinator),
David Levy (Chief Architect),
Tony Corfe (Event Manager),
David Pearce (webmaster)
ProductsMind Sports Olympiad

The Mind Sports Organisation (MSO) is an association for promoting mind sports including Contract Bridge, Chess, Go, Mastermind, and Scrabble. Since 1997 it has annually organised in England a multi-sport competition, the Mind Sports Olympiad.

The MSO was founded in conjunction with the first Mind Sports Olympiad. Beside the main event, always in England and usually in London, it has supported similar events elsewhere, including Milan; South Korea,[1] and Prague.[2]

Mind Sports Olympiad[edit]

The first Mind Sports Olympiad was held in London's Royal Festival Hall in 1997. It brought together an unprecedented number of strategy games and events. William Hartston in The Independent said, "The biggest gamesfest ever to hit these (or perhaps any other) shores".[3]

The inaugural MSO along with a very large number of games, introduced two new events of their own creation the Pentamind and the Decamentathlon. These were two events to parallel the multi-event games in athletics of the modern pentathlon and the decathlon. This was part of the ambition to create an Olympics of the mind.[4]

The Mind Sports Olympiad returned to London with sponsorship in both 1998[5] and 1999.[6] Despite a falling out between the organisers (see controversy below) a successful event was held in Alexandra Palace the next year in 2000.[7]

The Mind Sports Olympiad main event continued to happen but without sponsorship the tournaments were held at a number of different universities. The event was still going strong for the years 2001 - 2006.[8] The main 2004 event featured a separate event for schools, featuring competitions and activities in chess, Go, quizzes and intelligence puzzles. But in 2007 the Mind Sports Olympiad was reduced to a much smaller venue in Potters Bar due to no sponsorship and no advertising.[9] In 2008 the MSO saw a revival returning to a central London venue, the Royal Horticultural Halls, Westminster and again on 21–31 August 2009.[10] The 2010 event was held at the Soho Theatre in London.[11] In 2011, the Mind Sports Olympiad moved to a bigger venue, the University of London Union. The 16th MSO will take place once again at the University of London Union in 18–27 August 2012.

Over the last few years, MSO has been flourishing both at its satellite events and at the main event in London, which attracted almost 800 entries in 2011. MSO London is a truly global event, and the 2010 Pentamind World Champion Paco Garcia De La Banda hails from Spain, while the 2011 Pentamind World Champion Andres Kuusk is from Estonia.[12] The most widely read chess magazine in the world, Chess Life, featured an article in February 2012 about in the inauguration of Diving Chess into the 2011 Mind Sports Olympiad.[13]


The Mind Sports Olympiad main event has been annual since 1997 at the following locations in England:

Games at the MSO[edit]

The MSO consists mainly of single event competitions most of which are for the nominal title of Olympiad champion, though some trademarked games are authorised by the game designer and publishers as the official world championships. All games, whether an Olympiad or the official World championship, can count towards the Pentamind. Medals, and more recently trophies, are awarded for gold, silver and bronze positions in each competition as well as ranks, with similar awards for the top juniors in each event. In early Olympiads sponsorship allowed for generous financial prizes to go with many of the events. In recent years such prizes have been limited to a small number of events, usually as a result of specific outside sponsorship for that discipline.

Notable games include (most other refs mention some of these):[23] The well-known: Chess, Bridge, Draughts, Shogi, Backgammon, Chinese Chess (Xiang-Qi), Othello, Poker, Cribbage, Mastermind

And many newer games like: Abalone, Boku, Continuo, Entropy, Kamisado,[24] Lines of Action (LOA), Pacru,[25] Twixt

At MSO tournaments, the Decamentathlon is a composite event in which players compete in ten separate mind sports. The following mental skills have always been part of the Decamentathlon: memory skills, mental calculation, IQ, chess, Go, othello, 8 by 8 draughts, and creative thinking. MSO also organizes Mental Calculation World Championship separately. The remaining two mental skills have changed over the years and come from this list: contract bridge, Backgammon, Mastermind, and most recently Sudoku.

The MSO introduced the Abstract Games world championship in 2008.[26]


This was one of the Mind Sports Olympiad's original events.[4] It was an attempt along with the decamentathlon to produce an event for all-rounders to parallel the Olympic Games with its events the decamentathlon and pentathlon. Unlike the decamentathlon's fixed format (see separate article) the pentamind has very little fixed format. It disallows using games that are considered too similar and normally requires a long event, but otherwise any five events from the schedule could be used.

The Pentamind champion is the player with the highest numerical score in "pentamind points" from 5 valid events. This is calculated using the formula 100 x (n - p) / (n - 1), where n is the number of players and p is the player's position in an event.[8] The position is the position before tie-breaks and any split positions are shared amongst all of the tied players. When there are fewer than 10 players in a tournament, the score is multiplied by a secondary factor [p / (p + 1)].

Pentamind World Champions[edit]

This event has been won five times by Demis Hassabis.[27]

  • 1997: Welsh Kenneth J. Wilshire (Wales)[28]
  • 1998: English Demis Hassabis (England)
  • 1999: English Demis Hassabis (England)
  • 2000: English Demis Hassabis (England)
  • 2001: English Demis Hassabis (England)
  • 2002: Italian Dario De Toffoli (Italy)
  • 2003: English Demis Hassabis (England)
  • 2004: South African Alain Dekker (South Africa)
  • 2005: English Tim Hebbes (England)
  • 2006: Czech Jan Stastna (Czech Republic)
  • 2007: English David M. Pearce (England)
  • 2008: English David M. Pearce (England)
  • 2009: English Martyn Hamer (England)[29]
  • 2010: Spanish Paco Garcia De La Banda (Spain)[30]
  • 2011: Estonian Andres Kuusk (Estonia)[31]
  • 2012: Italian Dario De Toffoli (Italy)
  • 2013: Estonian Andres Kuusk (Estonia) and English Ankush Khandelwahl (England)
  • 2014: Estonian Andres Kuusk (Estonia)
  • 2015: English James Heppell (England)
  • 2016: Estonian Andres Kuusk (Estonia)
  • 2017: English James Heppell (England)
  • 2018: English Ankush Khandelwal (England)

Structure of the Organisation[edit]

When the MSO was initially formed in 1997, the board running it included David Levy, Tony Buzan, and Raymond Keene, David Levy being the original founder of the MSO concept. The current (2012) board consists of David Levy, Tony Corfe and Etan Ilfeld. The Mind Sports Olympiad is run by MSO Limited, which is registered in the UK with company number 04712990, and was incorporated in 2003.[32]

Satellite Mind Sports Olympiads[edit]

Several satellite events were held around the world bearing the Mind Sports Olympiad name. These have occurred in Cambridge, England;[33] Singapore;[34] Seoul, South Korea;[35] Milan, Italy;[36] Oulu, Finland;[37] and Prague, The Czech Republic.[38]

Other Mind Sports Events[edit]

Several other mind sports events and festivals have been held that have their roots in the original organisation.

World Mind Sports Games[edit]

The World Mind Sports Games (WMSG) was created by the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA) as a "stepping stone on the path of introducing a third kind of Olympic Games (after the Summer and the Winter Olympics)".[39] with the aim to be held alongside the Summer Olympic Games every 4 years. The first WMSG was held in Beijing 2008 to coincide with Olympic host city; the 2012 WMSG was held in Lille, France.

Sport Accord World Mind Games[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ MSO Korean Contest Will Be Held on 22 July, Korea JoongAng Daily, 14 July 1999, [1]. Retrieved 30 April 2011
  2. ^ Looking forward to the Mind Sports Olympiad, Radio Prague, Jan Velinger, 17 September 2006 [2]. Retrieved 30 April 2011
  3. ^ William Hartston, The South Bank Brain Show, The Independent 21 June 1997, retrieved 2 August 1997
  4. ^ a b c The Mind Sports Olympiad Supplement s, The Times, July - August 1997
  5. ^ Robert Sheehan, Sheehan on Bridge, The Times, 20 October 1998
  6. ^ Alan Hiron, Games: Bridge, The Independent, 5 December 1999, retrieved 2 August 2009
  7. ^ a b Paul Sussman, Fierce rivalry in 'Olympics' for brainboxes Archived 28 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine 24 August 2000
  8. ^ a b David Ward, Cerebral Athletes Play Mind Games, [The Guardian], 22 August 2005, retrieved 2 August 2009
  9. ^ a b Stephen Moss, This time it's Personal, The Guardian, 27 August 2007
  10. ^ Information about venue for MSO XIII, http://www.boardability.com/mso/venue.html, 2 August 2009
  11. ^ Account of MSO XIV, http://www.boardability.com/result.php?id=mso14 Archived 26 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine, 15 February 2011
  12. ^ "Results for mso15". Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  13. ^ "February 2012".
  14. ^ Jon Spielman, Independent Pursuits: Chess, The Independent, 3 September 1998, retrieved 31 July 2009
  15. ^ Robert Nurden. Mental athletes tune up for Mind Games Archived 25 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine, 22 August 1999, retrieved 2 August 2009
  16. ^ Manchester Hosts 9th Mind Sports Olympiad, Manchester City Council News, 2 August 2005, retrieved 31 July 2009
  17. ^ Don's diary:games and gold medals in Mind, The Times Higher Education, David Levy, 17 October 2003, [3]. Retrieved 20 April 2011
  18. ^ Mind games tournament under way, BBC Manchester, 19 August 2005 [4]. Retrieved 30 April 2011
  19. ^ Cheam man's mind bending puzzles at mental olympiad, Sutton Guardian, Kevin Barnesm 28 August 2009 [5]. Retrieved 30 April 2011
  20. ^ Scrabble, Monopoly and more at xhul games fest, The Jewish Chronicle, Robyn Rosen, 26 August 2010, [6] Archived 29 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 30 April 2011
  21. ^ Venue announcement for MSO XV, http://www.boardability.com/venue.php, 15 February 2011
  22. ^ Venue announcement for MSO XVI, http://www.boardability.com/, 15 February 2012
  23. ^ List of games, http://www.boardability.com/games_az.html, retrieved 2 August 2009
  24. ^ Op-Ed: Mind Sports Olympiad 2011 - with chess diving, Digital Journal, 23 August 2011, Alexander Baron, http://digitaljournal.com/article/310713, retrieved 6 September 2011
  25. ^ Mike's test for the old grey matter, Manchester Evening News, Patricia Roberts, 8 December 2005 [7] Archived 12 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Article on abstract games world championships, http://www.boardability.com/game.php?abstract_games[permanent dead link], 15 February 2011
  27. ^ MSO pentamind results, http://www.boardability.com/result.php?id=pentamind Archived 8 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 6 September 2010
  28. ^ Cerebral athletes play mind games, The Guardian, David Ward, 22 August 2005, [8]. Retrieved 30 April 2011
  29. ^ Martyn Minds if he holds onto his crown..., Accrington Observer, Stuart Pike, 20 August 2010, [9] Archived 26 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 30 April 2010
  30. ^ Un proyecto de emprendeduría infantil de La Palma recibe respaldo internacional, Que Newspaper, 13 September 2010 [10] Archived 11 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 30 April 2011
  31. ^ Estonian Mind Athlete Wins World Championship, ERR News ,30 August 2011, Ingrid Teesalu http://news.err.ee/sports/cced719d-60db-4aa9-a795-a8cc02fe202f Retrieved 6 September 2011
  32. ^ "Failure Page".
  33. ^ Uganda: Kampala Wins Gold, AllAfrica.com, Norman Katende, 10 May 2002 [11]. Retrieved 16 July 2012
  34. ^ MSO (Singapore) 2000 opening speech archived by Ministry of Education (Singapore), [12] Archived 26 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 16 July 2012
  35. ^ MSO Korean Contest Will be Held on 22 July, Korea JoongAng Daily, 14 July 1999 "MSO Korean Contest Will be Held on July 22-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily". Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link) Retrieved 16 July 2012
  36. ^ Shogi results for MSO Italy 2000 from shogi.net. Retrieved 16 July 2012
  37. ^ Mind Sports Festival announcement from chessbanter.com. Retrieved 16 July 2012
  38. ^ Looking Forward to the Mind Sports Olympiad, Radio Praha, 17 September 2006, Jan Velinger, "Radio Prague - Looking forward to the Mind Sports Olympiad". Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2009
  39. ^ World Bridge Games Archived 20 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine. World Bridge Federation. Retrieved 2011-05-27.

External links[edit]