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.

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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.

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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

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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?

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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.

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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.

2015 Mind Sports Olympiad Champions

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From left to right: James, Charlotte, Bijan and Martin

Congratulations to James Heppell for winning the 2015 Pentamind World Championship! Also, congrats to Charlotte Levy for winning the Ladies Pentamind, to Bijan Mehdinejad for winning the Eurogames World Championship, and to Martin Hobemagi for winning the Amateur Poker World Championship. The 2015 Mind Sports Olympiad featured 378 tournament competitors, and an additional 310 players who played in the learn-to-play-open-gaming-room, for a total of almost 700 participants. Thanks again to Mitsubishi UK and DeepMind for sponsoring the 2015 Mind Sports Olympiad.

Eurogames World Championship

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We’re excited to share that this year’s MSO will award the Eurogames World Championship title, and will have a Eurogame during every session including Settlers of Catan (Standard and Cities and Knights), Seven Wonders, Puerto Rico, Stone Age, Ticket to Ride (Europe), Coal Baron, Acquire, Race for the Galaxy, Carcassone, Dominion, Agricola, and Terra Mystica. The player with the highest top five Pentamind scores from different Eurogame events will be crowned the 2015 Eurogames World Champion.

2015 Diving Chess World Championship

James Heppell won the 2015 Diving Chess World Championship

James Heppell won the 2015 Diving Chess World Championship

The 2015 Diving Chess World Championship took place on August 9 at the Third Space gym, 67 Brewer Street, W1F London. James Heppell (England) took gold, followed by Etan Ilfeld (USA) with silver, and Alain Dekker (South Africa) with bronze.

You can see the full video HERE

Diving Chess is like normal chess but played in a swimming pool with submerged chessboard. Each player can only think as long as they are able to hold their breath. Once you’ve made a move and come up for air, your opponent must dive and cannot come back up until they’ve played a move, and then it’s your turn to dive again…

 

Andres Kuusk wins the 2014 Pentamind

Congratulations to Andres Kuusk for winning the 2014 Pentamind World Championship! The Pentamind is a unique meta-event, which celebrates the best all round games player in the world.

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Any event at Mind Sports Olympiad can count towards that year’s Pentamind, and the player with the highest top five scores is crowned the Pentamind World Champion.This year’s Pentamind went down to the wire with Matthew Hathrell leading going in to the last session. Andres took gold in the Lost Cities event which clinched his Pentamind title. Pentamind medals were awarded to Matthew Hathrell with silver and Tim Hebbes with bronze.

This is the third time that Andres has won the Pentamind having previously won it in 2011 and sharing it with Ankush Khandelwahl in 2013. Many of his Estonian compatriots were also triumphant this year–including Martin Hobemagi who won the Junior Pentamind World Championship and Madli Mirme who won the Women’s Pentamind World Championship.

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The 2014 Mind Sports Olympiad featured a record 334 unique participants and a total of over 1000 event entries.  A complete list of results will can be viewed here.

2014 Diving Chess World Championship

The 2014 Diving Chess World Championship will take place at 3pm on July 27 at the Third Space Gym in Soho, 13 Sherwood St, London W1F 7BR. Diving Chess is played like normal chess but with the board submerged in a swimming pool. Each player can think for as long as they can hold their breath, and must make a move before coming up for air (once one player comes up, the other player goes underwater only to emerge after making a move). The event will be a four round Swiss tournament so that everyone is guaranteed to play 4 games of Diving Chess.

If you’d like to participate in this year’s event, please email mindsportsolympiad@gmail.com to reserve you spot. The entry fee is £10. Here’s some footage from last year’s event:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcmWv06iEwM

Summary of the 2013 Mind Sports Olympiad

The 17th Mind Sports Olympiad took place at the University of London Union from August 16th to the 25th, 2013, and featured competitors from over 40 countries. The oldest competitor, Bernard Morgan age 89, won a Bronze medal in Dominoes while the youngest competitor, Alexander Hassabis age 7, took home a junior gold medal in the Settlers of Catan tournament.

The Pentamind World Championship was shared by UK’s Ankush Khandelwahl and Estonia’s Andres Kuusk both of whom had a total of 492 points out of a maximum 500 points. The Pentamind is awarded to the player who scores the best results in five distinct games. Khandelwahl won gold medals at Chess, Poker, Carcassonne, Lines of Action and Acquire, while Andres’ won the Hare and Tortoise World Championship, the Entropy World Championship, the Kamisado World Championship and the Boku World Championship. The Women’s Pentamind World Championship was won by Emily Watson who excelled at Tetris, Acquire, and Diplomacy. Fifteen year old Martin Hobemagi from Estonia won the Junior Pentamind World Championship, and also won gold medals in poker, monopoly, bridge and renju.

Martin Hobemagi (left), Ankush Khandelwahl (middle), and Andres Kuusk (right)

Martin Hobemagi (left), Ankush Khandelwahl (middle), and Andres Kuusk (right)

The Diving Chess World Championship was won by David Jameson of the UK. Diving Chess features an underwater chessboard, and competitors are able to think for as long as they can hold their breath as they must complete a move before resurfacing–at which point, their opponents must submerge themselves, only to resurface once they have made their underwater move.

The Computer Programming Competition was won by Julia Hayward and the Starcraft competition was won by Anatol Gasiorowski. The Mind Sports Tetris competition was won by the UK Tetris Champion Paul Erdunast, while George Lane defeated nine-time World Champion Gert Mittring in the Mental Calculations World Championship.

The Mind Sports Olympiad features over 60 tournaments and over a dozen world championships. The Amateur Poker World Championship was won by Michael Dixon. The Creative Thinking World Championship was won by Dan Hoch and Gaby Kappus. Martyn Hamer won the gruelling Decamentathlon, which tests competitors on 10 different skills which include chess, intelligence, go, memory, mastermind, sudoku, and mental calculations.

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Emily Watson won the Women’s Pentamind World Championship

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The Diving Chess World Championship: players can think for as long as they can hold their breath

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UK Tetris champ Paul Erdunast (player on right) takes on Henry Lam (player on left)

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The Mental Calculation World Championship was won by George Lane (middle) followed by Gert Mittring (left), and Andrew Robertshaw (right)

Click here for a full list of results.

Click here for more photos at the Mind Sports Olympiad’s Facebook page.

 

 

Creative Thinking World Championship

Since 1997, the Creative Thinking World Championship has been run by the Mind Sports Olympiad. The competition consists of 4 rounds. Each round has a duration of 30 minutes during which contestants must use their imagination and creativity to answer one question by writing and/or drawing responses on paper. After each round, the responses are scored on a scale of 1 to 25 based on originality and depth (there’s no such thing as the ‘right’ answer–just the most creative). The fourth round often features diagrams from patent entries with a prompt asking contestants to create a story/explanation as to what device the patent describes (the highest marks are not necessarily given to the person who guesses what the device is really for–but rather for the most imaginative response).

William Hartston writes the questions and scores each round. Hartston draws upon an immense and eclectic range of interests. He won the British Chess Championship in 1973 and 1975. He writes the off-beat Beachcomber column for the Daily Express and has authored books on chess, mathematics, humour and trivia. He has also been a regular guest on the BBC Radio 4 and occasional TV programme, Puzzle Panel. Aside from his chess and media-related activities, Hartston is a Cambridge-educated mathematician and industrial psychologist. During the 1980s, he was recruited by Meredith Belbin, at the Industrial Training Research Unit in Cambridge, to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team researching the dynamics of team roles. While continuing to write the Beachcomber column and other features for the Daily Express, he has also been behind the launching of the wakkipedia.com Internet site of useless information. His latest publication is The Things That Nobody Knows (Atlantic Books), a discussion of 501 unanswered questions ranging from science to history, including a good supply of typically quirky items.

Examples of past questions:

One 2012 question alluded to prince Harry’s photos from Vegas:
You are an unmarried, high-profile 27-year-old visiting the USA and pictures have appeared on the Internet and in various publications around the world of you in a state of nakedness. In one of the pictures, you are being clasped from behind by a naked young lady; in another, you are being clasped similarly but face to face. Your charming 86-year-old granny is reported to be highly disturbed by the pictures. Your task is to explain what is happening in the pictures, what led up to it and what happened next in a way that will put your poor granny’s mind to rest.

MSO 2010 Round 2:
Many thousands of years hence, when almost all traces of present civilization have been lost, anthropologists discover an ancient artefact consisting of a set of button-like objects on which the following symbols may be discerned: !ӣ$%^&*()_+
Some smudges below these symbols suggest that each of these may have had a further symbol inscribed beneath it–though that theory is disputed. What does the anthropologist of the future make of this discovery, and what conclusions does he draw about our society?

MSO 2010 Round 3:
Over the past few millennia, the alphabet has evolved from ancient Phoenician, Sumerian and Babylonian glyphs via the Greeks and Romans to the mess we have today, with nobody even having a convincing theory to explain the conventional A, B, C, D, etc order we have inherited. The government has therefore decided at last to put some order into the alphabetical order and you have been commissioned to produce as report on considerations, systems and recommendations that will lead to the desired result of a logical and sensible ordering of the letters in the alphabet.

MSO 2012 Round 2:
What can you do with an Olympic silver medal that you cannot do with an Olympic gold medal, and vice versa: what can you do with an Olympic gold medal that you cannot do with an Olympic silver medal?

Hare and Tortoise

Hare and Tortoise game inventor David Parlett designed his celebrated game in 1974, and runs the World Championship for it each year at the Mind Sports Olympiad. Hare and Tortoise is a wonderful multiplayer game that is based on Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” where the tortoise wins the race by cunning while the hare fails because he overestimates himself and takes a nap during the race. The moral of the story is “slow and steady wins the race” which is incorporated in the game mechanic.
The 2013 World Championship will take place on the evening of August 17.

Gameplay
The game used a then new (as of 1974) game mechanic. Until then movement of pieces in race games was largely determined by the roll of dice. In Hare and Tortoise players pay carrots (the currency in the game) to move forward. The more squares the player wants to advance, the more carrots the player is to pay. The cost to advance increases in an arithmetic series:

1 square = 1 carrot
2 squares = price of 1 square + 2 = 3 carrots
3 squares = price of 2 squares + 3 = 6 carrots
4 squares = price of 3 squares + 4 = 10 carrots
And so on.

Players can earn carrots in various ways – most notably by moving backwards to designated squares (10 carrots per square). This game mechanic creates an interesting and dynamic race usually with no clear winner until the very end. The players start the game with 65 carrots. The gameboard features 65 squares. There are no generic squares; instead, the board is divided in several types of squares such as hare (draw a luck card), carrots (get extra carrots for each turn skipped), etc.

The factor of luck can be eliminated completely from the game by agreement between the players not to land on ‘hare’ squares.

Champions
The official world championships have been held as part of the Mind Sports Olympiad with David Parlett’s endoresement 7 times.

1997: British Chris Dickson (United Kingdom)
2007: British David M. Pearce (United Kingdom)
2008: British Tige Nnando (United Kingdom)
2009: British David M. Pearce (United Kingdom)
2010: Italian Dario De Toffoli (Italy)
2011: British Tige Nnando (United Kingdom)
2012: British Mike Dixon (United Kingdom)

Diving Chess

Come and try playing Diving Chess at this year’s Mind Sports Olympiad–its just chess in a pool but instead of chess clocks, you can think for as long as you hold your breath:

Alternatively, for those who want more traditional chess, there’s also blitz, rapid, exchange and the British Championship for Chess 960 (aka Fischer Random).

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a8 black bishop
b8 black knight
c8 black rook
d8 black bishop
e8 black knight
f8 black king
g8 black rook
h8 black queen
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white bishop
b1 white knight
c1 white rook
d1 white bishop
e1 white knight
f1 white king
g1 white rook
h1 white queen

Chess 960 is just like regular chess with the exception that the pieces are randomized behind the pawns on the home ranks. Note that bishops must still be on opposite colors and each player still has the right to castle on both sides.