August 10, 2010

The 2010 edition of the Mind Sports Olympiad will take place between 21-30 August at the Soho Theater, London.
All the details and results (also of the past editions) are available on:

Dario De Toffoli, Pentamind World Champion 2002, will join the Olympiad, representing Italy.

We invite all the italian poli-players to join the Olympiad! It would be great to form a team to represent our country!

This year Dario De Toffoli will participate to the following Tournaments: Backgammon, Poker (7 Tournaments in different styles), Rummikub, Continuo, Triolet, Mastermind, Acquire, The settlers of Catan, Hare&Tortoise... but a detour in other games is not to be excluded if time permits it!

All results will be posted on our website.

August 22, 2010


The old guard (the writer) is too old, and during the first two days
of competition  he wasn't able to get the required concentration: I was far from the Backgammon medals (1st Tournament), and so for the 7-card stud and Catan.

But the wonderful surprise comes from another italian player, William Benvenuto from Genova,  part of the Labyrinth club, who showed up today for  the Tournament of The Settlers of Catan: he got the 4th place in the first match, then he won for three consecutive times surpassing everybody getting the gold medal! Wow!
Veni vidi vici.

Great debut also for Riccardo Gueci from Palermo, that together with the indian Ankush won the bronze medal in the Exchange chess Tournament, a heterodox variant in which the conquered pieces on a chessboard are given to the other player on the other chessboard. They played against two very good players from Turkmenistan.

This edition got it's breath back and already doubled the modest  previous edition, even though it is still far from the pomp editions of the first years.
To be mentioned also the many very strong multiplayers coming from  different parts of the world.

Over and out from the Soho Theater, London: its rooms are really tiny, and so we play all very close to each other.

Tomorrow another Backgammon for Gueci and I; Benvenuto will join the Blokus Tournament.

August 25, 2010


Here in London all the scheduled Tournaments are held.

Nothing done yet in Backgammon and Poker, but meanwhile I won the gold medal in Rummikub (this game is like a talisman for me, it is the fourth time that I win the Tournament here at the MSO) and the silver medal in Triolet (a sort of Scrabble with numbers).
There will be another medal for sure, but I do not know yet what metal, due to a complicated (and of course unexpected) case of tie break: we'll talk about it in the next "chronicle".

As for the Pentamind (the most coveted prize overall) the Estonian Andreas Kuusk is
conducting: impassive, he grinds medals on medals in every race in which he participates. This year I have not even tried to put up a combined strategy, I just  try to have fun and find satisfaction in some specialties.

As for the other Italians, William
Benvenuto, after the beautiful gold in the Tournament of The Settlers of Catan, has disappeared into London's life and has not shown up at the Blokus Tournament. Richard Gueci is having fun discovering the different styles of Poker and is doing well in Chess 960 (Fischer Random), where the initial position of the pieces is drawn (on 960 total possiblities, in fact).

Tomorrow a little restful Tournament, based more on luck than on ability: Lost Cities! I wonder why they added it at the Mind Sports Olympiad...

Over and out from the Soho Theatre in London.

August 28, 2010


At the MSO a few other medals came, although  my performances have been less good than last year.
Particularly bad was backgammon and quite modest poker (only one medal in six competitions: the silver at the London Lowball).

But I have great satisfaction in having won the gold medal at Mastermind. Luckily the time limit came down to 8 minutes, an advantage for the better player. I do a couple of good guesses and win a few games, then I loose one game against one of the smaller opponents that closes with a bit of luck. At the last round I am just -1 from the Estonian Kuusk (who is leading the Pentamind) and I have to play against him. At table 2, David Pearce is at -1/2 and the nice Spanish Paco Garcia de la Banda at -1. In case of ending in a draw: tie break. Well, what does it take? Since I have already beaten Paco, I just have to beat
Kuusk and trust on Paco; if he wins, the three of us have the same number of points, but I beat both Kuusk and Paco. Paco closes in 4 in a few minutes, Kuusk loses concentration (he is human too) gives me a wrong answer on the fourth attempt, and so, on his turn he looses concentration and runs out of time. It 's done: gold!

And then a silver medal at the World Championship of Continuo, the beautiful game designed by Maureen Hiron, not very well known in Italy, but with over 4 million copies sold worldwide:
It took two days to give out the medals because of a complicated case of tie break that could not be solved. I'll explain it because I find it interesting. The criteria were:
1) direct encounters
2) algebraic total of the difference of all matches points
At the end of the Tournament four of us have the same amount of points: Cordell (5 times world champion) at +181, I am at +112,
Hathrell + 70 and Pearce +27.
As for the direct encouters the situation is:
I beat Cordell (wow, 459 to 451) and Pearce; Hathrell beats me and Cordell, Pearce beats Hathrell; Cordell beats Pearce.
At this point Cordell and Pearce are 3rd and 4th because they have only one victory among us and the bronze goes to Cordell who beats Pearce and also has the best scores. Hathrell and I are 1st and 2nd, but who gets the gold? Following the second criterion the gold goes to me but following the first criterion the gold is for Hathrell. After a long time the judges choose this second way... a pity, but they may be right, I do not know.

Finally, another silver at the exhausting Acquire Tournament, the beautiful game  by Sid Sackson. During the third game, after about six hours of total game playing, a mistake (I think I have already bought the 13th Quantum, but in reality I was at 12) costs me the majority in an already safe chain, and only by a hair I win and have access to the final table where I keep the second position. To comfort me, the thought that the score that I would have reached with the 13th Quantum wouldn't have been enough anyway in order to get the gold.

Soon the conclusions.

Dario De Toffoli

August 29, 2010


This time I will talk about Riccardo Gueci, the chess Master from Palermo that kept me company during these 10 days in London.

Chess, yes, but not only. Gueci now plays mostly at bridge and here in London he has been uncommonly brave to try also other disciplines, such as backgammon, poker, othello and go. Sorry... if you think that this is not much.

And he obtained some quite good results. After the bronze medal in "Exchange chess", he got an unexpected 4th place at othello, a discipline that he wasn't playing since a long time. Most of all he showed his skills at the pot limit omaha, a new poker style for him, by winning another bronze medal.
Now he understood how the MSO work and I am sure that he will be part of it also next year, and I hope together with many other italian players.

I am really pleased to meet such open minded and flexible chess players!

In the meantime, regarding the Pentamind, the most wanted olympic Tournament, the Spanish Paco Garcia de la Banda is wonderfully catching up on the Estonian Andreas Kuusk, that starts to feel his until now quite secure position being attacked. The medal will be given by a hair.

Dario De Toffoli

August 30, 2010


Today ended the 14th Edition of the Mind Sports Olympiad at the London Soho Theater: 158 players took part in it, representing 22 different nations.
Regarding the medals, of course behind England (about 3/4 of the players were from England), there is a surprising Spain, dragged by Paco Garcia de la Banda that collected a great number of victories in the last days, surpassing by a hair in the Pentamind the Estonian Kuusk that seemed to be unbeatable. At the end 476,6 (out of 500) for Paco and 475,9 for Kuusk. The results that made Paco win were the gold medals in the difficult Entropy Tournament, in Creative thinking and in a Poker  Tournament, and the silver medals in Go (!!!) and Mastermind. I take my hat off to you!
The writer didn't do better than a 5th place with 443,8.

To Italy te third place regarding the medals (4/4/2) with a number of medals that even surpasses Germany in the historical total  of the MSO and getting also here the 3rd place behind England and Holland (that was leading during  many years the Stratego challanges).

Personally I finished with a victory that was a great pleasure to me: the World Championship in Hare & Tortoise (Hase und Igel) directed from the very same author of the game David Parlett. Realized in 1974, this very peculiar race game was the first to win the Spiel des Jahres in 1979, has been published many times and sold more than 3 million copies all over the world.

Dario De Toffoli