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LONDON - JW3 Finchley Rd.
August 21-29 2016
Mind Sports Olympiad XIX  

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Chronicles
Part I - Day 1-5
by Dario De Toffoli

Prologue  
All right, this one might seem a very strange discipline. In Diving Chess you play chess in a swimming pool, under the water. The chess board is attached on the bottom of the pool and the players dive to move... the time to make their move is given by their capacity to stay under the water without breathing.
This game has been invented by Etan Ilfeld and opens since several years the Mind Sports Olympiad. It combines a sport and a game, in a better way than Chessboxing, in wich the two disciplines just alternate.

1. Diving chess.jpg


Here below two videos to get an idea:


Eve  
The Italian Dream Team is ready: we are all very young!

2. Dream team Italia.jpg

The schedule

Schedule.jpg


Day 1
Here we are, many old friends together again! And we already are getting some medals!

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A great opening with the Settlers of Catan Tournament, won by the strong Portuguese player Ricardo Gomes, one of my candidates for the Pentamind.

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I went wrong in strategy and decided not to take part to it, registering at the 1st Backgammon Tournament. The Backgammon Tournament was actually quite modest (due to the great success of Catan) and so my bronze medal didn't count that much for the Pentamind scoring; next year I'll change and will participate to Catan again, which is a lovely game. I will leave Backgammon to the second day giving up Cribbage.
In the meantime Gueci was doing a great job at Chess 960 (the one by Bobby Fischer, in which the starting position is decided by drawing and so all the memorized opening moves don't make sense anymore). He got very close to the podium, playing against international chess champions.
During the evening Gueci took part to his first Poker Tournament, 7-card stud: he defended himself with an incredible all in, and then he went after the chip leader that had to surrender to such determination.
I played Oware (Awele), in a five 5 turns Tournament; I easily won the first two and on the third game I faced the Great Britain Champion Paul Smith. We played a wonderful game, and at the end I beated him: I was so proud! Then, on the 4th turn I faced my old friend Cosimo Cardellicchio (just arrived in London), also very determined
. I must admit that during the game he was mastering; things seemed to go very bad for me, when he moved on 23-17 and he got very close to conquer two pawns. But I didn't give up (I never give up, in any game) but he relaxed and made a mistake: he didn't force me to double on a hole, so I gained a move and was able to place all my 8 pawns without getting any on his side: so I won 25-23! Only one turn missing. My opponent was Matthew Hattrell, already beaten by Paul Smith (and by me in previous years). But I lost this one, I didn't know what mistake I made! So we ended up 4 first places with 4 points out of 5. For the medals play-off Sonnenberg-Berger (the total of the beaten opponents points); if Cosimo beated David Pearce I would have gotten the gold, but Cosimo lost his motivation and so the gold went to Paul Smith (who I beated); I got the silver; but the next day an issue came out about a wrong registered result during the 4th turn for a game between two Corean players with very similar names, the points were counted again and I ended up with the bronze! Ugh, how I long for a couple more turns in this game!

Oware.jpg
The game against Paul Smith

Summarizing the day:
Gold Gueci Poker 7-card stud  
Bronze De Toffoli Backgammon (5 p)  
Bronze De Toffoli Oware

Day 2
The second day was quite mild. I gave up on Cribbage (that still intrigues me) in order to participate to a Backagammon Tournament that looked much more crowded than the previous one: for the Pentamind scoring I needed points in a double session Tournament. 8 Swiss turns (3 points) and I got close to the podium scoring about 70 points. Gueci played too, but didn't do very well.
In the evening we both played Poker London Lowball (a 7-card in which the lowest hand wins): I lost in the very beginning, Riccardo ended up 4th, beaten by a terribly lucky hand of an opponent. 

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With Ricardo Gomez

Day 3
Today Great Italy! We begun with Rummikub in the morning, but I got nervous because the referee was not applying the rules that the organization kindly asked me to help writing. It might have been for this reason, or for my not great shape, but I only won 3 out of 5 games and I ended up far away from the podium, in a discipline in which, in previous editions, I won 5 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal. I am disappointed and maybe also a bit worried for the end of my youth… Daniele Ferri cheered me up doing a great Tournament and winnig a gold medal against James Hepple, previous Pentamind champion. It's Daniele's fourth Rummikub gold medal, and next year he might reach me!

6. Oro Ferri.jpg

Here below a small video of the Tournament:
https://www.facebook.com/MindSportsOlympiad/videos/1218669904851191/

Triolet in the afternoon (a kind of Scrabble in which one has to reach 15 using a combination of 3 numbers) and I got a silver losing only against Tim Hebbes, the best player of this game.
In the meantime Cosimo was quite happy for his bronze at Twixt, Alex Randolph's fovourite game among his many creations. Pretty obvious the victory of the French player Florian Jamain (4 times winner) and the silver of Bharat Thakar, that beated Cosimo.

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Cosimo and Florian: two different levels :-)

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Barath can't make it against Florian


So we all had medals and took our usual picture:

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But the day was not over. During the evening I played the World Championship of Hare & Tortoise, the 1st Spiel des Jahres (1978), which I previously won in 2010: 4 turns with 4 players tables, swiss system. Each game 4-2-1-0 points. 

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Hatthrell and Heppel made it to the final table with 9 points, I made it with 8 and Dixon with 6. Really all great opponents! Dixon won and gets to 10 points; I got second with also 10 points and Hatthrell third, also 10 points. The play-off considers who wasted less "carrots", and that was me. So I got the gold. No, wait, there seems to be another rule, apparently the play-off considers the best position at the final table (why did we count the carrots then, at the end of each turn?)… in this case the gold goes to Dixon. We were both right, I was right following the rules online and used by the referee (David Parlett, the author of the game), and Dixon because of the rule that was on the tables. The organization admited the mistake and they decided to give the gold medal to both players. Oh well.
Gueci was not doing much that day, nothing in Backgammon, nor in Poker 5-card draw. 

Summarizing the day:
Gold Ferri in Rummikub
Silver De Toffoli in Triolet
Bronze Cardellicchio in Twixt
Gold De Toffoli in Hare and Tortoise


Day4
Mensa Connection to begin. The four members of the Italian team took part to it. I did very well and after 4 turns I was playing for the gold medal against Tim Brown. We played a very nice game. Almost at the last move we both had 3 colors out of 9; I cut in two the area to guarantee for myself the final move, that would make one of my colors proceed in any case; he could only win if he was the yellow-purple card in his hands, which would have permited him to move two colors on the 10, and... that's exactly the card he had: oh well, I have seen this movie many times, too bad I didn't take a picture of the position. Gold to Brown and silver to the young Corean player Jung-Woo Bong, that I had beaten at the third turn (in the picture)

11. Mensa connection.jpg
With the young Jung-Woo Bong

Maybe because I was a little bit tired, maybe because I was a bit disappointed, at the next Mastermind Tournament I had a black out and at the second turn I think I made a record: I not only don't find out the code, I also messed up the answer at the first attempt: 13-2 against young Riva Black, who was very thankful and smiled (what a shame!!!); she might have won anyway, since she obtained three red at her first attempt… but one never knows.
I rinsed my face and tryed to wake up: from here on only victories and one tie, helped also by a closing in 4 moves against a very good but unlucky Hathrell that closed in 5 having 50% at his 4th move. I won the silver and the gold went to... Riva!
Now a small quiz, taken from my game against Hathrell:
1 2 3 4   XXO
1 2 4 5   XXX
What would you have played at your third attempt, considering the time limit?
Nothing special to say concerning Poker Pinapple. For Gueci, another day in the shade.

Summarizing the day:
Bronze De Toffoli Mensa Connection
Silver De Toffoli Mastermind 

Mastermind.jpg
Mastermind prize giving. The winner Riva Black on the right, the juniorplayers left


Day5  
Today Acquire, maybe my favourite EuroGame (that's how they call them here) and I could not miss it, also because I needed a double session for the Pentamind. It seems a game in which luck is the key, and in some ways it is so, but the three ranking players (Tim, Ankush and I) ended up in the first three positions. And this is what happens every year. One has to consider that for the Tournament you accumulate the percentage of the scoring of each game. At the final table Ankush got more than 20 percentage points above me, thanks to a very easy first turn in which he dominated with almost 50%. There was no way to reach him, Tim tried to reach my second position but I was able to defend it. The percentage system is beautiful, but it brings one to great imbalances... maybe it would be wiser to go back to the traditional 4-2-1-0 points and just keep the percentage for the play-off. 

Acquire_game.JPG

For the VegeTables Tournament, organized by its author Daniele Ferri, Italy got the silver medal with Nicola Facchini, while the gold went for the third time to Matthew Hathrell.

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Nicola Facchini

Gueci came back to life with a bronze at Kamisado, a very good game for chess players: Riccardo was quite happy with his performance. In the evening I won the silver medal at Poker Omaha, the poker variation I prefer. Too bad that the final heads up had to be done in just one hand, since they were closing up the place that was hosting us.    

Summarizing the day:
Silver De Toffoli Acquire
Silver Facchini VegeTables
Bronze Gueci Kamisado
Silver De Toffoli Poker Omaha

_____________________ 
Chronicles
Part II - Day 6-8
by Dario De Toffoli

Paco 
The first part of my Chronicles ended with Day5, that actually included, besides all the Tournaments, a very interesting conference by my friend Paco De La Banda, about how and why teach to students using games and logic. The passion he has about this issue is very clear, and that is witnessed also by what he is doing at home in La Palma (Canary Islands) since ten years. This year he organized a small Olympiad and came to London with a group of teenagers, also supported by the great Demis Hassabis.

La Palma.jpg

Day 6 
Lets begin with me. Basically, following the schedule, besides some possible lucky events, my competition in general was over with 414,75/500 points. This score could seem low compared to my previous ones, but the new system considers the number of participants, and the 100 net points that were given for a victory without play-off are not valid anymore. 
On this day there were tournaments only during the day, and none of "my" specialities. So I decided to learn a new game, hoping to be not too bad at it: Ticket to ride. I enjoyed it very much, and playing against the strong players (all the three winners of the podium were sititng at my table) made me learn a lot. I even won a game, and never was the last player: next year I will definitely do better. 
But this day was definitely Gueci's day! His “mindset” was much more competitive and positive than in the previous days. In the morning he won the gold medal at Stratego, with a full score. In the afternoon he won the gold at Othello, with a full score. This medal has been a wonderful achievment since he played against the specialist Roy Arnold, that even made an attempt of “cheating”, that an alert Paco De La Banda noticed immediately. Anyway I have never seen Riccardo smiling that much!

14. R.Gueci.jpg

Day7 
Also this day none of my specialities were to be played. So I decided to get a headache at the KenKen-Sudoku Challenge: 16 puzzles (8 and 8), very difficult ones, 200 minutes given time. The two specialist finished before the time was over (they must be coming from another planet...), I managed to solve 13 (all the KenKen and the first 5 Sudoku) and very proud I ended up in the 5th position. 
Have a try with one of them.

kenken.jpg

Gueci was doing great also on this day, playing Bridge together with Naresh Shiralkar. A nice tournament, that would have made him overtake me in the Senior Pentamind, (and I would have been very happy if it happened). Riccardo did his best but he and his fellow made it only to the silver. So his Pentamid score was 412,01, just a few points behind me. 
During the evening Texas Hold’em. By 10 players left blinds got very high and I had to go all in with A-Qs; Ankush, who is BB, called, maybe without even watchng his cards. He had 10-5 off. Flop: K-J-3  Turn:Q  River: A. This is poker and Ankush's game was perfect.

Day 8 
This day was my most relaxed and fun one, in which ability had a part in it, but luck was also very important. 
In the morning Domino 5s&3s, a very interesting variation of the classic Domino. An playing it was really worth it also because I got to play against a very special person: Bernard Morgan. Bernard is not only extradordinary because he is 92 and still able to win a medal. He is also a World War II veteran. He was an expert in RAF codes and contributed to the War Victory. He was the one recieving the message of the German surrender, he knew it before all the rest of the world! Among his memories, still incredibly vivid, the landing at Gold Beach in Normandy, the famous D-Day, June 6th 1944. In the picture below he is with the machine he used to discover the RAF codes. 

Bernard.jpg

After Bernard's last year victory, this year the gold went to the Spanish young player Nerea Crespo (on the right in the picture), one of Paco's “pupils”: a wonderful generation exchange.

Nerea Crespo.jpg

In the afternoon Lost Cities, to finish easily, while Riccardo was trying to win his first game at Go.

Lost cities.jpg

Epilogue
Goal achieved: Senior Pentamind Champion! And I did not that much better than my friend Riccardo Gueci, in great shape. So, two Italian "old guys" gave a hard time to the young lions. Only 6 players are ahead of us, and not that much. The gold goes to Andres Kuusk against Ankush Khandelwal. Here below the Pentamind Standings:

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Kuusk.jpg
Andres Kuusk (Estonia), World Pentamind Champion for the 4th time

Pentamind.jpg
The Pentamind Podium: Kuusk, Khandelwal, Hepple

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Senior Pentamind: De Toffoli and Gueci

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Women pentamind.jpg
Women Pentamind: Emily Watson - gold (right) Charlotte Levy - silver (middle) and Julia Hayward - bronze (left)

Junior Pentamind.jpg
Junior Pentamind: Daniel Guerra (right) is the winner