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LONDON - University of London Union
18-27 August 2012
Mind Sports Olympiad XVI

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Chronicles/4
 September 2012

How it happened. Two might be the keys of this success. On one side I played in a very relaxed mood, with no velleity at all, and this must have helped my performance. On the other side I have to say that the majority of my opponents comes from chess (they are all Masters with Elo of 2200-2300-2400) but enjoys very much trying other games. They are very strong, very talented, most of all in games with complete information. I certainly can't compete in their field, so I leave them among themselves, and rather choose games in which I can optimize my chances. I must have choosen the right Tournaments. 

Preparation. Zero preparation. I delivered the proofreading of my last book (Super Poker) the night before the beginning of the competition. And so I decided to participate just to games I know since many years and that therefore didn't need a long preparation before.

The path. I begun on saturday with nothing done. Sunday I didn't even play during the day, just at night a little poker Tournament. Then on Monday I won the Oware Tournament (4 victories and a tie), which actually is a game of  complete information. Well, my conscience is safe, I realized something. The day after Backgammon (3 points), 9 games to be played with the swiss system... and I win 8 of them! Hey, what's up? Something is going on here. 
Then another gold at Mastermind and I start to be among the favorite ones, maybe even the main favorite. Everything will be decided at the Acquire Tournament, that I will have to count necessarily in the Pentamind since it is a "long" Tournament. The pentamind rules have certain constraints, you can't just pick 5 games randomly.

Body language. To write a chapter of my Super Poker book I analyzed the so called body language. Basically you have to understand an opponents through the interpretation of his involontary movements. Tim Roth from Lie to me stuff. Well, I must say that I used it a little number of times plying poker and only against beginners. But I used it quite well in other games such as Mastermind and Acquire. Incredible but true. Second round of the Mastermind Tournament, I tie the first match 5 to 5, I am in front of the estonian Kuusk, last year's Pentamind Champion. After four guesses I have 3 possible codes. Two of them have different colours and one has a double colour. It would have been logic to try one of the first two with all different colours because they were autosplits: they would have ensured to finish in 6 moves if not in 5. And I was about to use one of them but then I thought about it and decided to try the code with a double colour: looking straight in my opponents eyes I asked "You put the double in your code, didn't you?". His eyes run to check out his code, his mouth made a forced smile and his hands started to move. I got convinced that he had chosen that code and he answered "Good guess", showing his code. 
Final table at the Acquire Tournament, I got there with a great advantage on the second player, Tony Niccoli. But, you never know, if they leave you out from a fusion and you have no more money, your risks are high. And that's exactly what was happening. I couldn't make my companies being acquired. Niccoli and Khandelwal had 4 America against my 3, and Niccoli, that was playing right after me, was particularly excited, looking forward to make his move, with a card in his hands. And what move could have been that good if not buying America? That way he would have left me out, obtaining a free path towards the gold medal. Mmm... I had to risk everything, so I left my other companies and with the money I had left I bought 2 America, in order to stop the move I guessed and hoping for another acquisition. I guessed right. And Niccoli's tension was so high that in fact he did that move in any case, not considering that I wasbecame the one with the majority. He didn't consider that I could have made that move and when he realized it, it was to late to go back. And his mistake let me stay in the game and even win the gold medal.

Fire. During the Acquire Tournament we even had a fire with evacuation of the building. Message through the speakers, imediate security, bad smell of burnt from the 2nd floor (we were staying at the 3rd flor), but everybody was coming down the stairs very calmly. Nice to see such efficiency and discipline in these occasions! After half an hour the fire was extinguished, everything was ok, we started to play again like nothing had happened.

Daniele Ferri. My long time boardgames fellow, one of the most frequent partecipants of the "Giocatore dell'Anno" (Player of the year), came to London at the Mind Sports Olympiad to present his new card game "Vege". And I must say, it is a quite good game. Many players tested it, enjoying it very much. If you would like to know more about it go to: http://www.vegetablesgame.com/j254/index.php?lang=it. Daniele participated to a few Tournaments, winning the gold medal at Rummikub (where he deservedly defeated me) and playing well at Boku.

Last days. I got to the final weekend with 484,60 points, Saturday I didn't play - too tired - but no opponent took advantage from my absence. On Sunday the only player that could still reach me was Khandelwal, if I did't get any better and he got a first and a second place. Hard, but not impossible. In the morning I didn't do anything special at the poker texas Hold'em heads up, and he got the silver medal at Boku. The Lost Cities Tournament was left, somehow a game like a lottery: if he won and alone got 100 Pentamind points, and I couldn't make any better than the 3rd or 4th position, he would have gotten a total of 485,00 meaning that he would have been better than me for 0,4 points. After the 3rd turn he was leading... but then he begun to decrease his position getting a middle position, and I got the 3rd place (among 20 players) reaching a total of 489,47. It was done. I still don't know really how, but I won.


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Chronicles/3
27  August  2012

I really don't know how I made it, but finally I am the winner, among the 200 players coming from 32 different nations.
Once again I am the Pentamind World Champion!
It seems incredible but the older generation triumphed, since the silver medal went to the spanish Paco Garcia de la Banda, just a few years younger than me (I believe he is 55).
During the last day of competitions I got a bronze medal in Lost cities which made safe my result against any possible big change: final score 489,47/500. Paco second with 467, the young James Heppel from England with 466, then Kuusk from Estonia (last year he was champion with the same score I achieved this year) and the indian-english Khandelwal. Far from winning David Pearce and Tim Hebbes from England, who both already won two times.
But Lost cities at the MSO... At the end of the 7 turns of competitions, all the winners of the Pentamind were in the first positions... Could it be a coincidence? Oh well...
The italian success has been completed by the many good results of Tony Niccoli, which got a 7th position in the general ranking.
Overall Italy is largely second and also got the second position in the ranking of the medals of all times.
What can I say: more than this wasn't really possible.
For now these information, in about 2-3 days more details, rankings, pictures and more.

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Chronicles/2
25  August  2012

I can't believe it!
I am a little dizzy because of my high ranking position: at my age I didn't think I could make it anymore!
The fact is that I won also the Acquire tournament which was the key for the generalPentamind ranking: I needed a "long" tournament to put in, because of the complicated general scoring mechanism. And with these 100 points I have now the first place of the general ranking with 484,6 points over 500, about the same amount that Kuusk had last year when he won.
And that's not all, there are players that theoretically could overtake me, among them the british-indian Ankush Kahndelwal, who is first at the poker combination. We'll see, in any case I am very satisfied and I believe that I will still be among the first three positions.
After winning at Acquire, I deserted Texas Hod'em to play at Rummikub, that should be one of my specialities, but...not all the donuts come out with a hole!
I lost badly, but I am still happy that the gold medal stayed in Italy. During the afternoon the player Daniele Ferri showed up, he is in London mainly to present a new card game of him (we'll talk about it). But he also is a Rummikub champion, he even represented Italy at the World Championship of Maastricht in 2006. So he won, I admit it, deservedly.
And the silver medal went to the other strong italian player, Tony Niccoli.
Well, as Italy we together are havoc, second just to England, that has 50 times more participants than we have.
And we even should get the second position of the medal ranking of all times, overcoming Holland, that got a great amount of medals years ago, when Stratego was one of the most important games of the competition.
Today I'll rest, there are no tournaments in which I could be good enough to win, then tonight I'll play the poker Omaha pot limit, maybe my favourite poker style. Tomorrow great ending with the Texas Hold'em no limit heads up and a tournament wich is a bit like a lottery: Lost cities.
Theoretically I could still improve my score, but I won't say anything: 484.6 points are already a very good achievement.
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Chronicles/1
23  August  2012

This year I was about to desert.
For personal reasons lately I couldn't play a single game to train a bit before the competition, exept for two Oware games (Mancala) with Cosimo Cardellicchio, one in March in the city of Modena and the other in June in the city of Venice, both with the result: 1 - 1.
But finally I came to London to play, just for fun, without any expectations. I swear that I wasn't up to any medals or Pentamind points.
But, who knows, it might have been this kind of serenity, but I obtained some quite unexpected results.
I won at Oware (4 1/2 out of 5). Cosimo wasn't competing since many years and therefore he might have been a little under pressure, just obtaing a 5th position, definitely under his possibilities. 
I won 3 points at backgammon (8 out of 9).
I won at Mastermind (6 out of 7).
I got a third place at an evening poker tournament (Pineapple).
Well, basically I am competing with the many "monsters", the estonian Kuusk, the spanish De La Banda, the british Pearce and Hebbes and the many younger players fighting to be noticed.
Up to this point - now we are in the middle of the competition - I can expect a pretty high position in the general ranking, I should get a lower position than the 5th: we'll see in the next games.
This morning I skip the Carcassonne tournament: too tired, I need to get my energies back. Playing is from 10:00 am to midnight, almost without any breaks for lunch or dinner, you just have time for a quick sandwich.
Another good news, after many years Tony Niccoli is back. He lives in England, but originally is italian and competes for Italy: since he is a very good player, together we obtained for Italy the second place in the general ranking, behind England which has 80% of the participating players. Tony already has two gold medals, (Continuo and Canadian Stud poker) and a silver medal (Mastermind)!
This afternoon Mensa connection, (that would be Geniale or Ingenious or Einfach Genial), by Knizia, then in the evning the London Lowball poker.


August 2012


Only a few days left until the beginning of the MSO 2012, which will take place from the 18th to the 27th of August at the University of London Union!

There will be many different disciplines, among them even some new ones such as the first ever Ladies' Pentamind. 

As usual our Dario De Toffoli will be there and will inform us about the different tournaments with his chronicles.
For more information go to the 
Official website.


Events list

Abalone Olympiad Championship
Acquire Olympiad Championship
Azacru World Championship
Backgammon 3pt Olympiad Championship
Backgammon 5pt
Backgammon 7pt Olympiad Championship
Blokus Olympiad Championship
Boku World Championship
Bridge Individual
Bridge Olympiad Championship
Carcassonne Olympiad Championship
Chess (40 min) Olympiad Championship
Chess 20 Minutes
Chess 960 Olympiad Championship
Chess Blitz
Continuo World Championship
Creative Thinking World Championship
Cribbage Pairs
Cribbage Singles
Decamentathlon World Championship
Dominion Olympiad Championship
Dominoes 5s and 3s
Draughts 10x10 Olympiad Championship
Draughts Olympiad Championship
Entropy Teaching Session (free)
Entropy World Championship
Go 13x13 Olympiad Championship
Go Olympiad Championship
Go Teaching Session (free)
Gomoku Olympiad Championship
Hare and Tortoise World Championship
Hexdame Olympiad Championship
Kamisado World Championship
Kings Cribbage World Championship
Lines of Action (LoA) World Championship
Losing Draughts 8x8 (Suicide Checkers)
Lost Cities Olympiad Championship
Mastermind Olympiad Championship
Mensa Connections Olympiad Championship
Mental Calculations World Championship
Monopoly Olympiad Championship
Othello Olympiad Championship
Oware Olympiad Championship
Pacru World Championship
Poker 5 Card Draw (pot limit)
Poker 7 card Stud (pot limit)
Poker Canadian Stud (pot limit)
Poker Heads-Up
Poker Omaha (pot limit)
Poker Pineapple (pot limit)
Poker Texas Hold'em (pot limit)
Quiz Olympiad Championship
Rummikub Olympiad Championship
Scrabble Olympiad Championship
Scrabble Variants Olympiad Championship
Settlers of Catan Olympiad Championship
Shacru World Championship
Shogi (Japanese Chess) Olympiad Championship
Stratego Olympiad Championships
Sudoku & KenKen Olympiad Championship
Surprise Game
TwixT World Championship
Xiangqi (Chinese chess) Olympiad Championship