MSO 2018 Dates Announced

We hope all is well and you are enjoying the holiday season.  We are excited to share that the 2018 Mind Sports Olympiad will take place from August 19 to 27 once again at JW3 in London. The complete program will be announced in early 2018.
AlphaZero Triumphs at Chess and Shogi
DeepMind have triumphed once again. After mastering Go, DeepMind’sAlphaZero program–which learns free of human guidance–has conquered chess and shogi and demonstrated that it is the strongest player in the world at all three games. AlphaZero played a 100 game chess match against Stockfish winning 25 games and drawing 75 games. Apparently, AlphaGo is unbeatable in chess by other programs. Its gameplay has been described as alien in that it plays moves that are unexpected and seems to be less materialistic than other programs. Bishop f1 to g5 on move 21 of the following game examplifiesAlphaZero‘s positional play and willingness to sacrifice material:
It’s interesting to note that in the 50 games that AlphaZero played white against Stockfish, it won 25 games and drew 25, whereas in the 50 games thatAlphaZero played black, it won 3 games and drew 47. This indicates that white has a sizable advantage.
Nigeria Wins Scrabble Championship Again! 
 The Nigerian Scrabble team has won the World English-language Scrabble Players Association championship for the second time running. Four of the team’s eight players made the top ten, out of 118 competitors. Scrabble has become extremely popular in Nigeria and good players are often hired as civil servants. Good Nigerian players tend to have an encyclopedic knowledge of short words, which they often deploy instead of longer ones in order to block their opponents and conserve useful letters such as S, E and R.

James Heppell wins the 2017 Pentamind World Championship!

James Heppell (Gold), Ankush Khandelwahl (Silver) and Andres Kuusk (Bronze)

Pentamind Medals: James Heppell (Gold), Ankush Khandelwal (Silver) and Andres Kuusk (Bronze)

Congratulations to England’s James Heppell for winning the 2017 Pentamind World Championship! The Pentamind is awarded to the player with the best finishes in 5 different events throughout the Mind Sports Olympiad. With two weeks to go ahead of his September wedding, James proved that love conquers all winning gold in Agricola, Backgammon, Blokus, Mensa Connections, Lost Cities, Lines of Action, and Texas Hold’em. James’ incredible Pentamind score of 476.16 points was closely followed by former Pentamind World Champions Ankush Khandelwal (England) with 471.34 points and Andres Kuusk (Estonia) with 467.14 points.

Eurogames World Championship: Mike Dixon (Gold), Ricardo Gomes (Silver) and Ankush Khandelwahl (Bronze)

Eurogames World Championship: Mike Dixon (Gold), Ricardo Gomes (Silver) and Ankush Khandelwahl (Bronze)

The Eurogames World Championship was won by defending champion Mike Dixon from England who took gold in Carcassone and Dominion followed by silver medals in Terra Mystica and 7 Wonders. Silver went to Portugal’s Ricardo Gomes followed by England’s Ankush Khandelwal winning bronze.

Additional highlights in this year’s competition included Dan Holloway winning the Creative Thinking World Championship and the European Speed Reading Championship. Dan was able to read a 102,169-word novel in 62 minutes and answer the comprehension questions with a 90% accuracy rate. Although his raw speed of 1,637 WPM is slower than Anne Jone’s MSO record of 2,246 set in 2001, however, his stunning 90% comprehension vs Anne’s 60% gives him a new MSO record for effective speed of 1,478 beating Anne’s previous record of 1348 WPM. Most impressive!

The Junior Pentamind medalists were Estonia’s Kuno Kolk (gold), Spain’s Noa Concepcion Martin (silver) and Portugal’s Samule Pires (bronze). The Women’s Pentamind medalists were Estonia’s Madli Mirme (gold), England’s Emily Watson (silver) and England’s Charlotte Levy (bronze). Meanwhile, the Senior Pentamind medalists were dominated by Italy’s Dario De Toffoli (gold), Piero Zama (silver) and Riccardo Gueci (bronze).

Visit our medals table for a full list of results.




Great start to the 2017 Mind Sports Olympiad–many more events to go!

This year’s Mind Sports Olympiad runs from August 20 to 28. There’s something for all ages from a free learn to play room to competitions ranging from DominoesCarcassoneTicket to RideBackgammon and Chess to Speed Reading, a Quiz for teams of two, and the Creative Thinking World Championship. There are medals for adults and juniors and everyone is welcome!
[Settlers of Catan featured 55 competitors from over a dozen countries]
The 2017 Mind Sports Olympiad kicked off on August 20 at JW3 with one of the strongest fields ever. The Scrabble event featured world number 2 David Eldar who placed fourth while grand master Austin Shin took gold with a perfect score of 7 wins out of 7 rounds followed by Craig Solomons and Sandie Simonis each with 5 wins out of 7 games. Settlers of Catan featured 55 players with Ricardo Gomes taking gold followed by David Van-Cauter and Martin Hobemagi.
World Number 2 David Eldar makes a move
[World number 2 David Eldar makes a move in the Scrabble competition]
Othello was won by Paul Smith with a perfect score of 5 wins out of 5 games, and Dominion was won by Mike Dixon. Meanwhile, Go 19×19 was won by Gong Cheng, and the Stratego Duel World Championship was won by Ricardo Guecci.
[Ricardo Guecci (left) won the Stratego Duel World Championship {playing against Spain’s Victor Espinoza}]
The Chess blitz championship was won by England’s Amit Ghasi with a perfect score of 9 out of 9, followed by Russian Grandmaster Alexander Cherniaev, and Austria’s Philipp Orgler. The Texas Hold’em Poker championship was won by former Pentamind World Champion James Heppell. The Memory Marathon competition was won by Katie Kermodefollowed by Lars Christiansen and Marlo Knight.
The Pentamind World Championship will be awarded on August 28th to the player with the best five results. For live Pentamind updates visit:
There are still many events ahead this week and there’s something for all ages from a learn to play room to competitions ranging from  MonopolyDominoesCarcassoneTicket to RideBackgammon and Chess to Speed Reading, a Quiz for teams of two, and the Creative Thinking World Championship. For more info or to register visit:
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2016 Quiz Answers


MSO’s annual quiz competition is open to pairs, and always features some very entertaining and thought-provoking questions. The 2017 Quiz will take place on Sunday, August 27.

Meanwhile, here are last year’s questions and answers:


1. Which river is the fifth longest in the UK and forms part of the border between England and Wales?

2. Where on the human body would you find the sclera?

3. One co-author of the original Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister TV series died this week. What was his name?

4. What commonly consumed product is made from the leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis plant?

5. Karl von Frisch won a Nobel prize for studying the movements of which living creatures?

6… and which plant did Gregor Mendel study to discover the basics of genetics?

7. Which palindromic animal can produce cheese?

8. Which alchemist adviser to Queen Elizabeth I is the subject of an opera by Damon Albarn?

9. The American actor/singer/comedian David Daniel Kaminsky died in 1987. By what name was he better known?

10. What do all these answers have in common?

1. Wye

2. the eye – it’s the white part.

3. Antony Jay

4. tea

5. bees

6. pea

7. ewe

8. John Dee

9. Danny Kaye

10. All letters of the alphabet



1. What do Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Henry VI, Edward IV, Henry VIII, Queen Victoria and George V have in common?

2. Which was the most recent year in which there were three Popes?

3. What did US Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both do on 4 July 1826?

4. On July 25, 1909, Louis Bleriot made the first cross-channel crossing by plane. What first channel-crossing happened fifty years later on July 25, 1959?

5. Who did Jack Ruby kill on November 24, 1963?

6. From 1513 to 1972, every monarch of this country was named either Christian or Frederick. Which country?

7. What did Van Diemen’s Land change its name to in 1856?

8. Which English King died 800 years ago this year in 1216?

9. What did the Swiss engineer George de Mestral invent in the mid-20th century and name after the French words for hooks and velvet?

10.  In which Italian town was Leonardo da Vinci born?

1. All succeeded by Edwards

2. 1978

3. died

4. first channel crossing by hovercraft

5. Lee Harvey Oswald

6. Denmark

7. Tasmania

8. King John

9. Velcro

10. Vinci



1. Where did “yu” change to “me” in 2007 and why?

2. Of which country is Mswati III the king?

3. What is the only US state with no letters in common with the word ‘mackerel’?

4. What is the only London tube station with no letters in common with hare (or hear)?

5. How far is it from London to Rio de Janeiro by air? (within 500 miles or 800km)

6. Which of the Wombles was named after a town in Siberia?

7. Where was Jeremy Corbyn going on a Virgin train when he sat in the corridor?

8. Which UN member has the longest name using only one distinct vowel? (name either of them)

9. Which UN member nation has a one-word name that uses all five vowels?

10. Name a S American country with the same number of letters in its name and the name of its capital.

1. In Montenegro – internet domain suffix changed from .yu to .me.

2. Swaziland

3. Ohio

4. Pimlico

5. 5762 miles (9272km)

6. Tomsk

7. Newcastle

8. Madagascar and Seychelles

9. Mozambique

10. Paraguay (Asuncion) or Peru (Lima)


1. By what name are Choloepus and Bradypus commonly known?

2. Which animal used to be called camelopard?

3. Which animal is said to have directly killed the Greek tragedian Aeschtylus in the 5th century BC?

4. What was the name of the black panther in Kipling’s Jungle Book?

5. Which breed of dog does not bark but makes a noise that has been described as a yodel?

6. Which is the only play by Shakespeare to mention a rhinoceros?

7. What is this? (pointing at picture on T-shirt)

8. What was unusual physically about Ernest Hemingway’s cats?

9. What is the name of the resident chief mouser cat at the Foreign Office?

10. Martha died at the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens on September 1, 1914, the last of her species. What species was that?

1. Sloth

2. Giraffe

3. Tortoise

4. Bagheera

5. Basenji

6. Macbeth

7. Pangolin

8. They had six toes

9. Palmerston

10. Carrier pigeon



1. Who said: “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read”.

2. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Caesar is warned to beware the Ideas of March. What date in March is the Ides?

3. In which book did a bottle of Amarone turn into Chianti when it was made into a film?

4. What was the title of the third Harry Potter book?

5. What was the name of the monster or giant slain by Beowulf in the Anglo-Saxon epic?

6. “A novel by a Scottish writer” is an anagram of a novel by a scottish writer. What is it and by whom?

7. Whose autobiography, published in 2007, was entitled My Booky Wook

8. Which book begins with the words “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”?

9. Which book, which became a multi-oscar winning film, ends with the words “After all, tomorrow is another day”

10. What is the title shared by a play by Agatha Christie and a play-within-a-play in Shakespeare’s Hamlet?

1. Groucho Marx

2. 15th

3. Silence of the Lambs

4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

5. Grendel

6. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

7. Russell Brand

8. 1984 (by George Orwell)

9. Gone With The Wind

10. The Mousetrap.



1. What was the surname of the character played by Clint Eastwood in the film Dirty Harry?

2. Who wrote the line “Oh to be in England now that April’s there?

3. Who was US President at the outbreak of World War 1?

4. Of which restaurant chain was Ray Kroc Chief Executive from 1961-1974?

5. What was the name of the romantic hero destroyed by his passions in Wuthering Heights?

6. What’s the capital of New Zealand?

7. Which British official until 1968 was responsible for censorship of plays?

8. Which date has been celebrated as Star Wars Day since 2011?

9. Which rank in the British army is between Captain and Lieutenant Colonel?

10. What do all these answers have in common?

1. Callahan

2. Robert Browning

3. Woodrow Wilson

4. McDonalds

5. Heathcliff

6. Wellington

7. Lord Chamberlain

8. May 4

9. Major

10. All include names of British PMs (more or less)



1. In the original book and the 1967 film of Casino Royale, what crucial game does James Bond play against Le Chiffre?

2. What did Snappy, Snoopy, Blabby, Flabby, Hotsy, Hungry and Chesty have in common in 1937?

3. In Disney’s The Lion King, Timon and Pumba sing “Hakuna Matata”. In which language does Hakuna Matata mean “no worries”?

4. Who was the last actor to win back-to-back Best Actor Oscars?

5. What does the L in Samuel L Jackson stand for?

6. Which 2009 oscar-winning film had as its title a misspelt version of a 1978 Italian war movie?

7. The 1993 film Groundhog Day has recently been produced as a hit musical. What is the date of Groundhog Day?

8. What was the name of Dorothy’s dog in The Wizard of Oz?

9. What was the title of the first Jason Bourne film?

10. Who wrote the script for the never-made film Captain Peachfuzz and the Anchovy Bandit

1. Baccarat

2. All rejected as names of the Seven Dwarfs

3. Swahili

4. TomHanks (Philadelphia and Forest Gump)

5. Leroy

6. Inglourious Basterds

7. February 2.

8. Toto

9. The Bourne Identity

10. Quentin Tarantino



1.  What did Marvin C. Stone of Washington DC in 1888 say should ideally be 8.5in long, and narrow enough to stop lemon pips being sucked up?

2. What do people who suffer from linonophobia fear?

3. Which well-known composer was born on February 29, 1792?

4. He died in November 1868. How many true birthdays had he had by then (not counting the day he was born)?

5. What did Ambrose Bierce, in his Devil’s Dictionary, define as “A temporary insanity curable by marriage”?

6. What is Donald Trump’s middle name?

7. Which part of every normal human’s body is an anagram of another part? (Ears/Arse is not an acceptable answer)

8. What is 2016 in binary?

9. What is Whitcomb L Judson famous for inventing around 1891?

10. How many times do the words girl or girls appear in the King James Bible?

1. Drinking straws.

2. String

3. Rossini

4. 18

5. Love

6. John

7. elbow bowel

8. 11111100000

9. the zipper (clasp locker or unlocker for shoes)

10. once each

With 2 points per correct answer (1 point for half right) and one Joker round in which the score is doubled, the winning score was 107, made up by 47 correct answers and one half-correct.

UK Championship Results

Several boardgame national championships were organised by the MSO as part of the UK Games Expo 2017, held from June 2nd to 4th. The winners were as follows:

Catan UK National Championship: Joe Williams   (full results)

Agricola UK National Championship: Paul Burton   (full results)

Carcassonne UK National Championship: Ven Gee Lim   (full results)

Ticket To Ride UK National Championship: David Crundall   (full results)

Splendor UK National Championship: Nadeev Wijesuriya   (full results)

Dominion: Roger Morbey   (full results)

7 Wonders Duel: Alex Li   (full results)

7 Wonders: Ben Lafferty   (full results)

Lords of Waterdeep: Victor Fuller   (full results)

Catan Regional Championships: Ankush Khandelwal (Friday – full results),            . Sarah Collier (Saturday – full results)

Registration is Now Open!


The 21st Mind Sports Olympiad will take place between August 20th and 28th at JW3, 341-351 Finchley Road, London NW3 6ET. We recommend registering early to guarantee your spot (several events including Catan and Quoridor are nearly full). Anyone can sign-up to compete. In addition, all events are open to spectators, free of charge, and newcomers are always welcome. There will also be a free learn to play room throughout the event, and all ages are welcome. New events this year include Speed Reading, Marco Polo, Countdown, Natural Memory and Liar’s Dice (aka Perudo). There’s something for everyone, so come and join the fun!

Catan at V&A Museum of Childhood Saturday, March 18


Saturday 18 March
£7 per person
3 rounds with 4 players per table,
Ages 8 to Adult

MSO is organizing a Catan Tournament that is open to everyone at the V&A’s Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to the top three players of the event, and the winner will also receive a complimentary ticket (worth £120) to this year’s Mind Sports Olympiad.

We encourage you to also visit the museum’s excellent and free exhibit entitled Game Plan: BoardGames Revisited, which will be open that day and includes more than 100 objects and features games from around the world ranging from ancient games such as Senet to contemporary games including several versions of Catan.

The venue’s address is:
V&A Museum of Childhood
Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9PA
United Kingdom

MSO Korea Championship

2017 MSO 대회 포스터

The Braining Games and MSO World-Korea Championships will take place on June 3 and 4 at Korea Job World in Suwon, (4-6, Jeongja-dong) 501, Bundangsuseo-ro, Bundang-gu. For more information and to register, please contact or call +82-(0) 31 8977114.

Andres Kuusk is the 2016 Pentamind World Champion


Congratulations to Andres Kuusk for winning the Pentamind World Championship. Andres was trailing behind Ankush Khandelwal with 24 hours left in the tournament, but was able to win the Texas Hold’em tournament to retake the lead and finish with a Pentamind score of 462.35pts followed closely by Ankush’s 456.38pts and last year’s champion James Heppell’s 452.22pts. This is the fourth time that Andres has won the Pentamind!

Emily Watson won the Women’s Pentamind World Championship, Dario de Toffoli won the Senior’s Pentamind World Championship and Daniel Guerra won the Junior’s Pentamind World Championship. Meanwhile, the Eurogames World Championship was won by Mike Dixon with a score of 436.46pts. The medals table is online and check out our Facebook page for photos and videos.

2016 Creative Thinking World Championship

The 2016 Creative Thinking World Championship was won by Dan Holloway. The Creative Thinking World Championship is run by Bill Hartston and has been taking place at the Mind Sports Olympiad for 20 years. Bill has kindly supplied a summary of some of this year’s best answers. Enjoy!

Round One

I have just been tidying my house and organising the various over-stuffed drawers and cupboards and piles of stuff on the floors.

After going through everything, I am left with an odd glove, 13 odd socks and one unpaired chopstick.

What should I do with them?

All suggestions gratefully received.


There were plenty of ideas for things to do with each of the three items mentioned individually, but the most creative responses were those that incorporated all of them together, ideally taking into account the precise number of the socks. I particularly liked Dan Holloway’s absurdist adaptation of the idea of a sundial to create a lunar calendar with the socks marking out the 13 lunar months of the year, the chopstick as a gnomon, and the glove standing at the edge “to imitate a cockerel so that the moon will know to go away come morning and get rest before moving on to the next stage”.

Another of Dan’s ideas was to use the chopstick as a handling device and the glove to avoid leaving fingerprints, then “deposit each sock at the scene of local felonioes to spice up the theorizing of bored police”.

Peter Steggle produced a design for a terrifying children’s toy with 14 legs and a single giant hand. The glove, of course, forms the hand, 13 of the legs are socks and the 14th is an artificial leg made from the chopstick.

More than one contestant came up with the succinct idea of unravelling the wool from the socks then braking the chopstick in two to form a pair of knitting needles. Then you can knit the missing glove.


Round Two

Britain won 67 medals at the Rio Olympics but this was achieved at a cost of £350million investment of public money which works out at over £5 million per medal. In this age of austerity, that seems very expensive. You are therefore invited by the UK government to come up with ideas to achieve similar success for less money.

Please submit your reports.


The most common theme in the answers was drugs, which split into two types: one half suggested that it would cost far less than £350million to develop undetectable drugs to boost the performance of British athletes; the other half used the money for a variety of surreptitious methods of drugging other countries’ contestants, or their blood and urine samples, leading to theri disqualification.

Again Dan Holloway produced the overall most imaginative suggestions which included cryogenically freezing our medallists from Rio then thawing them out for 2020, which could also bring success in a competitive defrosting event. Dan also set his sights even higher with a suggestion to replace the official US national anthem recording with a Jedward party remix “to ensure  the most historically successful does all in its power not to win more than its first gold”.

Other suggestions including not leaving the EU but taking the chance to build a European super-state to include the UK whose combined effors would win even more medals. Or, as some suggested, we could achieve the same result by military means, rebuilding the British Empire to include the nations with the best athletes.

Resli Costabell had perhaps the simplest and most effective idea of infiltrating Tokyo with British taxi drivers who would take our rivals to Osaka instead of Tokyo. I also very much liked her idea of saving money on pole-vault training facilities by glueing together all the chopsticks from the frist question to make a pole.

Round Three


These two diagrams come from patent documents. The upper is a Swedish invention, the lower is Japanese. Their titles have one significant word in common.

What are they? What do they do? How do they work? And what is the word they have in common?


Nobody, I am pleased to say, came remotely close to the intended uses of these inventions. The word they had in common was “nose”. The first is a device to make it easier for people wearing ski clothing to wipe their noses (basically it’s a pad worn on the wrist with an absorbent pad that may be flicked open). The second is a combined nose hair trimmer and cigarette lighter.

Peter Steggle provided the most comprehensive explanation of what the devices were and how they worked together as part of a ghost-busting kit he called the GGPS (Ghouls and Ghosts Positioning System). With detailed explanations of the functions of all the numbered parts on both diagrams, he included a psychic wave detector and ectoplasm sampler in his ghost-trapping and neutralising mechanisms as well as a MortuoLinguo translator (lower diagram) to reveal the meanings of their ghoulish utterances.

Resli Costabell also outlined the functions of all the numbered parts, but thought that both items were disability aids. “The photo on top clearly shows a one-thumbed man strapping the device to the stump of another man’s leg,” she says. She did, however, make the interesting obsetvation that the Swedish invention (upper diagram) is in the blue and yellow colours of the Swedish flag while the lower diagram features the black-and-white of Japan. Even compared with Peter Steggle’s ghost detecrtor, however, her explanations were a little far-fetched.

Other ideas included devices to be used against alien invasion (Nandini Shiralkar), a means of changing the colour of clothes (Emily Watson) and a signalling device for drones (Pauline Lewis).

Round Four

While walking round Cambridge market yesterday, I overheard the following snippets of conversation (not necessarily in this order), only one of which was addressed to me:

1: “From this hand to this shoulder round the back of the ball cage.”

2: “So I ended up naked and holding the lobster things over my boobs.”

3: “It’s nice to step in and step back out again sometimes.”

4. “Excuse me, are you the man from Gogglebox?”

I have a feeling there may be a link between them all, so your task is to blend them into a coherent narrative or plausible story.


I really did overhear all those lines in Cambridge the day before the Creativity competition. Number 2 was the first, and the temptation to use it in a question was irresistible.

Dan Holloway wove a gloriously incomprehensible postmodern narrative involving the incomprehensibly postmodern writer David Foster Wallace who wrote, among other things, a collection of essays entitled “Consider The Lobster”. His tale ended with the “lobster things over m,y boobs”, which I think is the right place for it. But he also managed to weave the other quotes into his tale, including the Gogglebox reference despite the fact that David Foster Wallace died before the programme was created.

Resli Costabell produced an equally convincing and ingenious (though somewhat deviant story) involving a woman who liked the feeling of a lobster’s tentacles or antennae on her breasts.

Peter Steggle’s tale involved a Japanese game-show in which contestants chose soft toys shaped like seafood, and then had to dodge ice lollies thrown by a man in a gorilla suit.

Strangely, it was the Gogglebox line that people found hardest to build into their stories convincingly, but a lot of lobsters were cooked in the tales.