Contact

LONDON - University of London Union
20-28 August 2011
Mind Sports Olympiad XV

_____________________
Chronicles/1
16 August 2011

-4 days until the beginning of the 15th edition of the great London event: the Mind Sports Olympiad XV.
Who is writing will be playing too, together with the Chess Master from Palermo Riccardo Gueci, but let's hope that many other Italian players will show up at the beginning of the competition.

Saturday the 20th there will be a heavy start with the Backgammon Tournament, followed by the evening-night Hare and Tortoise World Championship, better know as Hase und Igel. A classic game, published for the first time in 1974 and winner in 1979 of the very first Spiel des Jahres award. In 37 years the game sold over 3 milions copies. Its author,
David Parlett, will be present.

On Sunday the challenging Tournament of The Settlers of Catan (which last year has been won by the Italian William Benvenuto from Genova), followed by the first of the many Poker Tournaments.

On the website www.boardability.com all the informations about the games and the program, and the results of the previous editions of the MSO, descriptions of the players and the winners, game by game.
This year I will also have a role as a judge in case of particular situations during a game (obviously only if I am not playing in that match). A group of experts (which I am part of) has foreseen a series of eventual doubtful situations and worked on the updating of many tournament rules. It is a work in progress that will continue during the next months in order to be complete for the important 2012 Edition, during the days right before the London2012, the Olympic Games.

Dario De Toffoli

_____________________
Chronicles/2
August 20 2011- first impressions

Certainly a well chosen and proper venue (we are at the ULU University). There is quite movement and participation at the first tournaments. Good!
At Backgammon many english specialists are back; the registrations at the other tournaments have increased significantly.
A bit of confusion in the beginning, due to a large amount of boxes containing many late arriving boardgames, but everything was solved fastly.
At the World Championship Hare and Tortoise I couldn't defend my position and got the 4th place. The winner: Tige Nnando, who already won in 2008.
As soon as possible results and pictures.

Dario De Toffoli

_____________________
Chronicles/3
August 21 2011 - RICCARDO GUECI AND DAVID LEVY

Two words about Riccardo Gueci, the italian player from Palermo that rapresents with me
Italy during this London's adventure.
He is not only a Chess Master (he overcame the 2300 of Elo), but also plays regularly at Bridge, Go, Othello, Poker. A real versatile player. He has been even in the Guinness Records because of a third category simultaneous game against ten players: 9 victories and 1 draw

About the games I played, a little disaster at
The Settlers of Catan, in which I couldn't reach the final table.
Much better the first Poker Tournament (7-card stud) where I got a second place against the famous David Levy, well known among the Chess players for his Computer chess bet in 1968 (here below the Wikipedia text about the bet).

Dario De Toffoli

Computer chess bet
Beginning in 1968, Levy made a famous bet with four Artificial Intelligence (AI) luminaries, ultimately totaling 1,250 British pounds, that no computer program would win a chess match against him within ten years. In 1973, he wrote:
Clearly, I shall win my ... bet in 1978, and I would still win if the period were to be extended for another ten years. Prompted by the lack of conceptual progress over more than two decades, I am tempted to speculate that a computer program will not gain the title of International Master before the turn of the century and that the idea of an electronic world champion belongs only in the pages of a science fiction book.
Until 1977, no computer program was good enough to pose a serious threat to Levy. In April 1977, he played a two-game match against Chess 4.5, a program written by David Slate and Larry Atkin of Northwestern University that had done well in human events, including winning the 1977 Minnesota Open.[8] After Levy won the first game, the second was not played since Levy could not possibly lose the match. On 17 December, Levy played a two-game match against KAISSA; once again Levy won the first game and the match was terminated. In August 1978, Levy played a two-game match against MacHack; this time both games were played, Levy winning 2-0.
The final match necessary for Levy to win the bet also was played in late August 1978, this time against Chess 4.7, the successor to Chess 4.5. In 1978 Levy won the bet, defeating the Chess 4.7 in a six-game match by a score of 4.5-1.5. The computer scored a draw in game two (after getting a completely winning position but being outplayed by Levy in theendgame) and a win in game four, when Levy essayed the very sharp, dubious Latvian Gambit. Levy wrote, "I had proved that my 1968 assessment had been correct, but on the other hand my opponent in this match was very, very much stronger than I had thought possible when I started the bet."He observed that, "Now nothing would surprise me (very much)".


_____________________
Chronicles/4
August 22 2011 - OWARE

Great day, thanks to the very satisfying gold medal at Oware (we better know this game under the name of Mancala or Awele) won with 5 and 1/2 points out of 6. The tournament was directed by the popular Belarus David Kotin, winner of the prize for... elegance (some pictures will be online soon).
The game was played using the international competition rules, but experimenting with a 15 minutes time limit for each player. Obviuosly it worked very well for me, but a few more minutes would not be bad.

I also wanted to try the Blokus Tournament, without having much experience in the game and... it was pretty clear: after the second turn, when I was already last, I decided for a "honorable" withdrawal.

Dario De Toffoli

_____________________
Chronicles/5
August 23 2011

THE GREAT RICCARDO GUECI

After a kind of shy beginning of the competition, in which he almost seemed discouraged, Riccardo Gueci finally proved his skills: a gold medal in poker Pinapple. This game is a variant of Texas Hold'em: you get 3 instead of 2 cards and get rid of one after the flop. You could say "So what? There is no money winning". I say "True, but money is just money, and nothing compared to satisfaction!"

I also took part in raising the collection of the italian medals with another gold medal at the 5 points Backgammon Tournament (played with the swiss system, no knock out). I actually didn't think I was going to participate, because it had the same schedule the Continuo Tournament. The program change has been favorable for the general aim to collect pentamind-points; I needed a two-sessions long Tournament (morning and afternnon) to be added to my scores, and so... I made the right choise. I don't think I have big chances to get any pentamind medal, but I like the idea of being among the first players; the friday Acquire Tournament (also two sessions long) will be crucial.
Nothing done at Mensa Connection (called also Einfach Genial or Geniale) nor Triolet, where I was stuck in the middle of the ranking.

Tomorrow (Thursday 24) I'll get a break to enjoy the city and will just play at the evning Poker.

Dario De Toffoli

_____________________
Chronicles/6
August 24 2011
- KUUSK FLEEING

Duble gold for Andres Kuusk from Estonia at the World Boku Championship and at the Poker Canadian Stud Tournament.
At this point he is certainly the man closest to win the pentamind; let's see if Paco and the others will be able to reach him. Last year the very same Kuusk was almost the winner of the pentamind, but at the very end Paco surpassed him for less than one point: 476,6 against 475,9! It seems that this year there will be a very similar challenge.

In the meantime Gueci took advantage of some absences at the Othello, Tournament, winning the silver medal. Well done!

Dario De Toffoli

_____________________
Chronicles/7
August 28 2011
- MENTAL SKILLS

Not only boardgames at the MSO, but also "mental challanges".
Among them, some worth to mention.

Very challenging the Mental Calculation Championship: 4 hours to solve in a row hundreds of complicated calculations without permission to write someting down. Or better, with just the permission to write down the result. There are also multiplications of eight for eight digits. Since many years the best player is Gert Mittring and second since ever and really good George Lane. Pictures in the website.
I tried it once, in 2002, just out of curiosity, and I actually didn't do that bad, but then, for several hours I needed a break. I had to abandon the Mastermind Tournament.

A challenge that I've never tried until this year is Creative Thinking: very curious. 4 manches; in each one a very "silly" topic is assigned and you get half an hour to write something about it in the most
creative way. In the next days I will publish the 4 challanges.

Concerning other results, after a pretty good start, neither  Gueci nor I won any more medals. More about this issue in the next chronicle.

Dario De Toffoli

_____________________
Chronicles/8
August 28 2011
- KUUSK CHAMPION

It's over: as predicted Andres Kuusk from Estonia is the new Pentamind Worl Champion, with 489/500.
A better edition compared to the previous one, with a much more adequate location. About 200 players took part in it, representing about 20 different nations, a quite low number I would say, because the event is still a bit in a amateur mood ad is not adequately promoted. There are still some organizational problems, with
sometimes inadequate referees, which do not always know how to handle events. Oh well, it's part of the game.
Among the players only 26 made it for the overall of the Pentamind, getting points in five different disciplines with two Tournaments of two sessions. I didn't make any better than a eighth position with 429/500. Besides Kuusk the players that did better than me were Tim Hebbes, Ankush Khandelwal (from India but living in England), Paco Garcia de la Banda from Spain (winner of the previous edition and this year victim of some questionable refereeing decisions), David Pierce, Alain Dekker from South Africa and Martin Haymer.
To point out the performance of a young player from Poland, the 14 years old Tomasz, which doesn't speak English too well, but played almost every game obtaining a quite good 22nd place with aproximately 250/500: in a few years he will be a quite respectable opponent to other players
Also notable is the Turkmen
presence, with two groups, one of Chess players (also young) and one of Draught players, who won numerous medals.

I did bad in games that used to be my speciality, boardgames in which you have to optimize luck.
Nothing done in the four Tournaments in which during the previous editions I was always  getting good results: Acquire, Settler of Catan, Mensa Connection (ingenious) and Mastermind. What happened? It would be too easy to complain about some real unlucky situations, the truth is that I almost didn't practice before, then years pass for everybody, so I did some mistakes from which my opponents imediately took advantage: a sum of events. For instance:
Catan. It is true that in one game the 9 never came out (and I say, NEVER) and I had two cities with wood on that number (besides a Harbor with wood); but it is also true that in another game I completely did wrong in the initial placing, staying out of the main challange since the beginning.
Acquire. It is true that I got really bad tiles sequences; but it is also true that in the final game I chased the Sackson that other players got before me (Why?), ending up inevitably without any Bonus.
Mensa Connection. It is true that in one game I had to change cards three times before getting one of my behindhand color; but it is also true that I threw to the wind another game already won, dividing 4/2 instead of 3/3 spaces remaining (again, who knows why!) and giving my opponent the chance to play two cards and surpass me with the color we had the most behindhand.
Mastermind. No, here I have nothing to say except for the referee that decided to make us play out of 6 games instead of the expected 9. I always gave the right and complete answers... but what can I do if Paco closed in 3 leaving me out of the podium?

Soon more pictures and other comments.

Dario De Toffoli