MSO 2018 Dates Announced

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE MIND SPORTS OLYMPIAD!
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.

Scrabble at MSO 2016

The Mind Sports Olympiad Scrabble Olympiad took place on Sunday 21st August and was attended by 40 players across the whole range of abilities.  At the top end were Grand Masters one of whom, David Eldar is currently ranked number two in the world.  At the other end of the scale there were a number of players who had never played face-to-face tournament Scrabble before.

The first round of events like this is drawn randomly and saw one of the tournament newcomers, Will Morgan, up against Grand Master David Eldar.  Not knowing Of David’s standing, Will was undaunted by the challenge and, much to everyone’s surprise, came out on top.  

Will continued his good form in round 2 with a win against Victoria Kingham, an established tournament player in the UK.  Amongst other surprise results in round 2 was a win by just 2 points for a relative newcomer to uk-Scrabble, Temu Oluku against top player Rafal Dominiczak who was fifth highest rated in the field.  

So after two rounds Will found himself at the top of the table and now faced a relative newcomer to uk Scrabble in Ian Nicol.  Once again Will triumphed and went to lunch on three wins out of three in the company of most of the top players in the tournament.  

Things didn’t go quite as well for Will in the afternoon whilst David Eldar recovered strongly form his early defeat winning all his other games.  The tournament had seven rounds and by the time we reached round 6 the battle for the gold medal was between 6 players.  Grand Master Austin Shin and Expert Ed Rossiter were undefeated whilst David Eldar, Rafal, Rik Kennedy and Mohamed Kamara had lost only one game.  

Austin Shin came out on top against Ed in the final game to head the field whilst David Eldar maintained his strong recovery to finish second on spread.  Ed Rossiter took the bronze medal.

This tournament is well-liked by many tournament Scrabble players.  They like the venue and the format.  At the same time the event gives new players the opportunity to compete against Scrabble’s elite.  Chatting to a number of players afterward, they had all enjoyed the day.  Despite some heavy reversals the players new to tournament Scrabble had enjoyed the experience and we hope to see a number of them at other Scrabble tournaments in the coming months.  Will Morgan, especially thoroughly enjoyed his day.  He did manage one more win during the afternoon and finished a very creditable 11th = the same position as Tim Hebbes, a regular MSO only Scrabble player

Steve Perry

Scrabble Tournament Arbiter