MSO 2020

The 2020 Mind Sports Olympiad, for obvious reasons, will migrate ONLINE; it will certainly not be the same, but perhaps it can be an opportunity to expand the audience. Here is the original message from the organizers. The only alternative was to cancel the event, so let’s be satisfied and try to understand the great effort they are making.

“I’d like to start this post wishing everyone good health. The Coronavirus has created enormous challenges but it’s also reminded us just how precious life is, and that we are all interconnected in a more global world than ever before. As we begin to reemerge towards a new normal, we’re seeing that most large gatherings this year are being canceled or postponed. Although we won’t be hosting MSO this year in London, we’ve decided that this is a great opportunity to hold this year’s Olympiad online. We are currently working on this year’s program and will announce dates and events soon. Stay tuned.”


Here’s the full program, with events distributed between the 1st and the 30th of August.


And consequently here is also the Dario De Toffoli program:

But, there is also a bit of turmoil, in addition to the usual “old guard” it seems that this online edition is attracting the attention of new players from the various disciplines… soon on these pages.

Meanwhile, Piero Nabendu Zama and Daniele Ferri have opened a Facebook page:
Mind Sports Olympiad 2020 – Italian Team

On July the 16th we will talk live about Olympic experiences, during the broadcasts of the Italian Games Archive.


Backgammon 1pt Knockout
1 Arad Pedram Iran Islamic Republic of
2 Julia Hayward United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
3 Piero Zama Italy
3 Robert Kreisl Austria

Backgammon 3pt Classic Knockout
1 Michael Neagu Romania
2 Ildebrando Pietravalle Italy
3 Paco García de La Banda Spain
3 Vitaly Sandro Ukraine

Backgammon 11pt Classic Knockout
1 Michael Mesich United States of America
2 Peter Wisniewski United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
3 Alessia Mercuri Italy
3 Daniela Tunsoiu Romania

Can’t Stop
1 Joe Mela United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
2 Achmed52
3 Simona Costi Italy

Checkers Giveaway
1 Kanstantsin Nord Belarus
2 Maurizio De Leo Italy  Singapore
2 -KiriLL5-
3 Kevin Kaido Kallikorm Estonia

Chess 10min Swiss
1 Maciej Brzeski Poland
2 Mirko Trasciatti Italy
3 Dmitry Tatarinov Russia

Go 13×13
1 Alessandro Pace Italy
2 Maciej Brzeski Poland
3 Wei Zhou Australia

Go 9×9
1 Carlo Metta Italy
2 Davit Rostomashvili Georgia
3 Wei Zhou Australia

Hive Classic
1 Patrik Berggren Sweden
2 Piotr Lewandowski Poland
3 Francesco Salerno Italy

Liars Dics (Perud)
1 Piero Zama Italy
1 Ankush Khandelwal United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
1 Nathan202

Lost Cities
1 Ankush Khandelwal United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
2 Stefano Marchetto Italy
3 Haakon R. Monsen Norway

Marco Polo
1 Jordi Alexander Cyprus
2 Matt Tucker United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
3 Francesco Fiordoliva Italy

1 Alessandro Di Mattei Italy
2 Alexander Miroshnichenko Ukraine
3 David Hand United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

1 Yernur Mereshev Kazakhstan
2 Serik Aktayev Kazakhstan
3 Dario De Toffoli Italy

Poker NL Holdem 6+
1 Jamie Reeve United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
2 Venere000 Italy
3 Piero Zama Italy

Quarto (Standard variation)
1 Maciej Brzeski Poland
2 Daniele Ferri Italy
3 Hugo Pereira Portugal

Stone Age
1 Ilja Mett Germany
2 Stefano Teatini Italy
3 Ziggy Harris United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Terra Mystica
1 Marc Lambrecht Germany
2 Devid Fulterer Italy
3 Ryan Feathers United States of America

1 Giacomo Frassoldati Italy
2 Maurizio De Leo Italy  Singapore
3 petr7410
3 moypyr

1 James Preen Canada
2 Maurizio De Leo Italy  Singapore
3 Paul Smith United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Amateur Poker Championship Standings
1 Martin Isaac United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
2 Jamie Reeve United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
3 Dario De Toffoli Italy

Senior Pentamind
1 Paco García de la Banda Spain
2 Riccardo Gueci Italy
3 Dario De Toffoli Italy


ONLINE – 1st-30th August 2020
Mind Sports Olympiad XXIV

1 (De Toffoli) - 31/7
Here we are again!
No London, obviously, but the Mind Sports Olympiad are taking place nevertheless. Online. 90 events splitted from the 1st to the 30th of August. Ok, sure, it will not be the same, but we should look also to the positives: many more players will have the opportunity to participate.
But guys, what a mess! For a poor senior like me who has to practice countless different platforms… what can I do! I should have train for many games, but time has not been enough even to try all the platforms.
However in the picture there is the final schedule and my one, let’s see if I will be able to do as programmed.
With me the usual “musketeers” Riccardo Gueci, Piero Zama and Daniele Ferri, but there will also be Cosimo Cardellicchio, Piero Modolo, Umberto Rosin and many other new players that you will learn in the next days.
I will share those with you as soon as they will do some achievement.
Tomorrow will start with Catan, but Catan Universe is without doubt the most tricky and malfunctioning platform out of all of them, I think we will have quiet a few issues. Many players I personally know chose to not play, but I want to try nevertheless: I have a reputation to defend? Hell yes!
Internationally speaking, Ankush Kahndelwal, Andres Kuusk, James Heppel and all the other Pentamind super-champions are ready and fierce to defend their titles; and yesterday evening we all had a chat together (
But It will not be easy and I can’t do too much foreseeing, because I’m worried that many tournaments will be “infested” 🤨 (joking) by super-specialists, masters of a specific game. It will be hard for combined players… but if I have to bet on the first place, considered everything I would still bet on AK & AK (in poker terms I would also want to have AK as often as possible… even though many players consider them as “Anna Kournikova, beautiful to see but who doesn’t win anything”, and in fact they call them also “Big Slick”.
We will see.
Stay tuned.


2 (De Toffoli) - 1/8
Yesterday it started with the tournament of Catan. And I’m pretty satisfied to be able to do it (I mean to partecipate) because I had to manage countless new tecnologies. Not only playing on Catan Universe (unstable platform) opening it on Steam after purchasing gold coins with which buy the base game and the possibility to compete in tournaments; but all of this was managed on Discord, with proper check-in, lobby, brackets, table, table voice, result submission, taking screenshot… and once found the opponents, we had to go all together on CU to create a Custom Game. At my age, managing to start the first game without problems has been like winning a Treasure Hunt. Everything will go smooth from now on, because Catan was for sure the most intricate tournament!
And it started in the best way, with a big and nice victory. Then in the second game I found an italian opponent, Alessio Salzano, who, doing correctly his strategy, shutted me down completely leaving me there with a Monopoly card played with assassin mind 😜. The third game I don’t know, maybe I made something wrong? I think I had some bad luck, but would be interesting to analyze the game… who knows if I could have done better. Half an hour to wait if I was qualified for the quarter-finals (last 64s) and at the end… yes, 58°, and come on, let’s play again even if we go past midnight! But no semi-finals. I’m still alive after that hard work. Playing Catan online chatting in english and with little time to play, it’s not easy… I will just post the score of the first game, just to raise the morale. 👹


3 (De Toffoli) - 5/8
Small bridge detective story on Sunday, second day of competition.
The duo Riccardo Gueci / Manfredi Barbaro wins the final. So now? Yes, it must be gold! Hurray! But are we so sure? Mah, for a little while we were al enthusiast, because winning out of 155 duos is not a little thing. But then it came the disappointment, they won the final, but it was the B final, from 25th to 48th place. Well done nevertheless. And then Gueci, in an adrenalinic trance state, did very well in chess too. Well done Riccardo, you really want the senior title from me… and I believed you a friend 😜😇🙄.
I placed 17th in Carcassonne (4 players), with a very good Leonardo Cavilla in 11th position. The tournament was well organized, even though Carcassonne in 4 has many inconvenient typical of games that are better in 2 players. I still had a lot of fun.
And the overall winner in bridge, who could be? It’s always him, the unstoppable Ankush who already took a wide advantage on the Pentamind, because he did well also at chess while winning the bridge tournament, and he reached very good placements also in Catan and Carcassonne. I told you that I bet on AK! Every year he is better, a kind of monster, in my mind I start to think of him together with the mythic Demis Hassabis.
Monday and Tuesday rest days, just to say, because I tried the platforms for Backgammon, Poker and Acquire.
And this evening I start with Backgammon, on Heroes, with a tournament DMP, 1 point knock out, heeeeelp me, you can be out in one minute…


4 (Riccardo Gueci) - 7/8
1st Report at the end of the third day of competition.
First Bronze for Italy with Piero Zama in Backgammon (1pt KO) and late in the night a brilliant Silver by Stefano Teatini playing Stone Age!!

For sure there is no comparison: playing live in London is much more exciting, but Covid this year must make us like this situation too and so with a positive attitude we play with determination nevertheless.
To summarize everything is different, but we play no matter what 😊

Now it’s time for the chronicle.
The first two days started with the qualifier and finals for Bridge and Catan, but also Hive and Chess 3′ Arena.
In Bridge I play, surprise, with my grandson/student Manfredi Barbaro and exceeding every better forecast we won Final B (that of the second 24 qualified couples. they were 155 in total). And I must say that for 24 haours thank to a website that was not so clear, we thought we won the Gold 😜. That would have been a little bit too much, to be onest, but I’m very satisfied.
In Catan between the 111 players our best one has been Dario De Toffoli (59°), then Alessio Salzano (65°) and Marco De Simone (95°).
In Hive between 35 players very good final standing for our Francesco Salerno, 11° Gianni Cottogni, 19° Stefano Teatini.
In Backgammon (1 pt KO) the first italian satisfaction: Piero Zama makes it to the semifinal and gets the Bronze.
This against 80 players. Also Pietro Ermando Cucci reached the round of 16, while all the others got out before.
Then the Carcassonne tournament took place (4 players) where 59 players competed. The best italian this time has been Leonardo Caviola (11°), seguito da Dario De Toffoli (17°), Carlo Metta (29°), Daniele Ferri (36°), Piero Modolo (42°) and Manfredi Barbaro (44°).
In the Stone Age tournament a very good Silver by Stefano Teatini (but, as for the Backgammon (3pt KO) no result is published yet, so details will come with the next report).
Finally Chess: in Arena no italian player partecipated, in swiss Blitz (5’+3”) and in Chess960 (10′) both me and Piero Mazzilli tried something. In the first tournament, out of 77 players I reached the 14the position throwing the last match when it was almost won, while Piero peaked at 31st, nervous himself to have thrown his match too, while in Chess960 (10′) out of 54 players Mazzilli reached the 6th position, while who is writing reached the 9th. We played not greatly, leaving behind many good opportunities that could have led us to a medal, but it will be for the next time.
In the Pentamind ranking, just to change things up, Ankush Khandelwal is way ahead, winning Bridge and getting good results in 4 other tournaments (435 points), while the best of the italian is myself in 6th position (163 points with 2 tournaments), then at the 11th place Manfredi Barbaro (148 with 3 tournaments), at 19th place Dario De Toffoli (129 with 3 tournaments), 33rd Daniele Ferri (101 with 2 tournaments), 62nd Piero Zama (95 with 1 tournament).
bye bye

5 (De Toffoli) - 8/8
Guys, we are getting to the heart.
I told you to keep an eye on the two AK… and here they are, in the first positions of the Pentamind. Especially Ankush is dominating! There are many more players, from all over the world, but ahead in the Pentamind they are always them… that mean something! And there are also many other well known names also in the other first positions.
For sure nothing final, because many (myself included) have few results and can grow much more. Some new name, as the German Ilja, who won both Catan and Stone Age tournaments: incredible performance!
However I think MSO are finding this online edition quiet beneficial, many new players are entering in the proper mindset. Very good, and if something was not perfect… we will forgive it.
Today I tried the Creative Thinking (and Gueci did the same), because everybody knows that I like to compete in everything; very difficult, I paste down here the questions… but not the answers that I sent, I’m a little ashamed, I don’t think I did a good job. 🥶
In the meanwhile, the Italian medals are starting to come:
Bronze by Nabe (Piero Zama) in backgammon DMP (1 pt) and Silver to Ildebrando Pietravalle in Backgammon 3 pt.
Big Silver by Stefano Teatini in Stone Age
Huge Gold by Alessandro Di Matteo in a very difficult Othello tournament; 13/14 for him, with Tastet down in 5th place with 10/14 together with our Sperandio, Palladino and Buccoliero.
And then the boom in poker with 1.049 players, a real record, favored for sure by the very well known platform in which it has been played: Pokerstars. I finished 194th (worth more than 80 Pentamind points), quiet ok, while the best Italian is the old friend Paolo Arcudi, 56th.
So, a lot of things going on and a lot of fun.
Take care, guys, take care.
MSO 2020 Lockdown Creativity
Greetings to you all!
Those who have competed in this even before know what to expect. For new contestants, here’s a brief introduction:
There will be four rounds to the competition to stimulate your creativity and you are encouraged to come up with as many and as diverse ideas as occur to you. We should remind you, however, that originality (i.e. coming up with ideas that other contestants do not think of) will be rewarded more than mere quantity of responses.
For once, there is essentially no time limit – the competition will be open for 24 hours until 7.30pm London Time on Saturday 8 August – but you are encouraged to spend no more than 30 minutes on each of the four rounds. Responses should be kept to 500 words at most in each round and at most one image may be included.
Answers should be sent to: and will be marked as quickly as possible after the event is over. Scores and a report will then be posted.
For each round, a score of 25 points will be awarded to the entry considered to be most creative; the other entries will then be marked accordingly. Scores and a report will be posted as soon as possible after the event has finished.
So here goes with the questions:

Round One: According to the latest available figures, there are 26,935 passenger airliners in the world and 1.4 billion cars. At the height of this year’s locked most of the planes were grounded and most of the cars were inactive. You are therefore asked to come up with ideas for what could have been done with 26,935 empty airliners and 1.4 billion motionless cars.

Round Two: Seventy years ago, CS Lewis wrote a novel about a Lion, a Witch and a Wardrobe. I found this rather unconvincing and have always felt that there must be a better way to bring together those three items. You are therefore invited to come up with a synopsis for a better story in which a lion, a witch and a wardrobe are linked in the plot.

Round Three: We have all been challenged to find things to do during lockdown, but few if any new inventions have appeared to make life easier or more enjoyable. You are therefore asked to produce a patent application for a new device specifically designed to make any future lockdown period more fun or easier to cope with.

Round Four: The Creator has decided that the World has not really lived up to expectations and the construction has revealed many problems. You are invited to tender for the creation of a new World, giving specifications of the new designs and details of the ways it will improve things. For reasons of expense, small but significant changes are likely to be preferred.

6 (Gueci) - 10/8
First Gold for Italy!
In the very difficult Othello the Italian Master Alessandro Di Mattei triumphs and gives us the first Golg.
This year playing online makes it much more difficult to win medals. I refer mostly about those who usually go to London every year, playing many different tournaments with the Pentamind as a goal. The reason is simple: in each single game it’s simpler to see the professional player, who will do better than those playing more disciplines.
In the Othello tournament, many champions partecipated and Alessandro’s victory is even more prestigious. We can just mention that the ex world and european champion Marc Tastet came fifth place together with six other players, some of them were also italian:Gianfranco Brucculiero, Domenico Palladino, Roberto Sperandio and Paolo Scognamillo. The other players are all below, even myself, who paid greatly an entire year of inaction.
Another example has been Gomoku, won by the hungarian world champion Zoltán László, defeating others that usually would have easily won in London. No regrets, personally, if for a 2 seconds technical delay I wasn’t be able to partecipate. I would have not have any chance.
In the meanwhile started also the poker turbo tournaments. Texas Holdem yesterday and Omaha this evening. More than one thusand players in the first tournament and more than 500 in the seocond one. Manfredi Barbaro had a very good result in Omaha, 7th place! By myself, they have been terrible, and I was knocked out very quickly. Today, to be honest, the fault was totally mine because I played poker and chess simultaneously (in 3 minutes plus 2 seconds) with the result of playing poorly in both of them. 
The Creative Thinking was very interesting, changing topic.
In 24 hours we tried to write 4 stories on 4 different topics, all of them very difficult. In english, of course.
Small groups were created to gather ideas and to write in decent english. In the first comments here below I post, if somebody is curious, the full description of the 4 tasks. I will be kind: in italian.
On this topic, I want to say thank you to my daughter Giulia for the precious help in the third and fourth tasks, and the friend Pietro Ferraro for his decisive fluent english.
In the overall Pentamind ranking Ankush Khandelwal is comfortable in first position with his 435 points, followed by the “new” Jordi Alexander 381, the usual estonian Andres Kuusk rise at 306 but with his 4 tournaments instead of 5. The best between the italians at the moment is Maurizio De leo, even if his flag is Singapore (he lives there) with 285 points. Under our flag we need to go down to the 16th place where I am with 198 points (and 3 tournaments) and to the 20th place Dario De Toffoli with 185 (3 tournaments), 25th Gianfranco Bruccoliere 175 (3 T.), 30th Leonardo Caviola 155 (4 t.), 31st Stefano Teatini 154 (2 t.), 37th Manfredi Barbaro 148 (3 t.), and below the others. But we need to clarify that the results are still not counting the 2 poker tournaments yet, and those will change the rankings quiet a bit.
See you next time
bye bye
7 (De Toffoli) - 10/8
Pentamind is the essence of the Mind Sports Olympiad.
It’s not just the single tournaments, it’s the Pentamind which unifies everything in an unicum that attracted me inevitably: and I don’t care that it is not perfect, it’s a competition different from all the others, there’s nothing like that in the world. Better not to touch it!

After this premise, in 2017 they made a documentary about Pentamind and I had the honour to be one of the 5 protagonists, together with real champions like Khandelwal, Kuusk, Heppell and Pearce.
This documentary won the Best Documentary at the recent Gen Con Film Festival and this evening at 22:30 it will be live on Youtube. In this page the link and the triler:
It starts with my voice while I’m speaking english… shame!
Who wants can watch it.


8 (De Toffoli) - 12/8
The real surprise of the last weekend of competition has been the great performance by Riccardo Gueci, which took him in the 4th position in the Creative Thinking competition; I already published the questions – truly difficult – in a previous chronicle and I will publish what will come on this page.
The answers of Riccardo were develop in a way better form and this gave him the edge; in specific it seems truly good to me the answer n. 2. Mine, so and so, deserve the 29th position (out of 46 partecipants) because are too schematic and hasty… but I had the satisfaction of having partecipate with fun.
With the gained points, Riccardo is now 4th overall in the Pentamind ranking and enjoys the joy of the altitude: “Every once in a while – he says – I come back to the website and take a look at the ranking!”. Well done Riccardo, it will be hard also in the Senior Pentamind this year, I am chasing in 9th position, with Paco almost there in 11th (brilliant his victory in Omaha out of 499 players). Among the italians Maurizio De Leo is also in 13th position, Manfredi Barbaro in 21st and many others in good positions.
As for the poker combined, after the first two competitions I am placed not badly, 5th overall very close to the first players.
Today I start again with poker (7-card stud) and naturally I will try to resist as much as possible; but because I’m greedy I will play simultaneously the Hypergammon tournament (it’s a variant of Backgammon played with only 3 checkers)… let’s hope to not fully blunder and burn both the tournaments!
In the meanwhile, I enjoy the ride!


9 (Creative Thinking) - 12/8
Here goes with the questions:

Round One: According to the latest available figures, there are 26,935 passenger airliners in the world and 1.4 billion cars. At the height of this year’s locked most of the planes were grounded and most of the cars were inactive. You are therefore asked to come up with ideas for what could have been done with 26,935 empty airliners and 1.4 billion motionless cars.

Round Two: Seventy years ago, CS Lewis wrote a novel about a Lion, a Witch and a Wardrobe. I  found this rather unconvincing and have always felt that there must be a better way to bring together those three items. You are therefore invited to come up with a synopsis for a better story in which a lion, a witch and a wardrobe are linked in the plot.

Round Three: We have all been challenged to find things to do during lockdown, but few if any new inventions have appeared to make life easier or more enjoyable. You are therefore asked to produce a patent application for a new device specifically designed to make any future lockdown period more fun or easier to cope with.

Round Four: The Creator has decided that the World has not really lived up to expectations and the construction has revealed many problems. You are invited to tender for the creation of a new World, giving specifications of the new designs and details of the ways it will improve things. For reasons of expense, small but significant changes are likely to be preferred.


Answers by Riccardo Gueci:

1) The recent lockdown highlighted realities that nobody ever thought to use differently from the primary purpose they were designed for: airplanes and cars. The lack of usage of such a large number of vehicles represents a waste that can be easily corrected by a resourceful and advanced society. Here I present some innovative ideas for the immediate employment of these resources, in the perspective of a long period of lockdown, that would not jeopardize their primary functionality in a future where we can go back to our normal lives. I want to stress that these proposals are intended for specific societal needs that, in this way, would have a solution. First of all, prisons. During a pandemic, one of the weakest links of the humanitarian chain are the inmates that requires isolation. Considering the ever present overpopulation of prisons all over the world and the difficulty in isolating infected inmates from susceptible ones, the unused airplanes could be repurposed to act as isolation chambers for infected individuals who do not require further medical attentions. It would be sufficient to  remove the majority of the seats (that could be easily be reinstalled at the end of the lockdown) and to equip the interior of the planes with the bare minimal number of appliances for the forced stay of the inmates. This would provide excellent anti-evasion measures, while at the same time, ensure that these people receive a fair and humane treatment.
Another domain that under-utilized vehicles might help with, in a lockdown, entices the improvement of an overlooked aspect that had a profound psychological impact on the populations: the impossibility to have access, in a safe way, to services that are responsible for the improvement of our mood. This could be solved by allowing cars, that would require being equipped with highly recognizable elements, to help law enforcement ensure compliance with social distancing norms, to drive to large open spaces where people could attend to concerts, movies and spectacles, while being in a safe environment. Furthermore, large supermarkets could start employing drive through services (like Mc Donald’s ones) where goods can be sold without having any contacts with a potentially hazardous environment. This would have a positive effect on an otherwise crippled economy and people could go out of their homes safely. Last but not least, this kind of regulation would allow us to maintain soothing practices such as admiring dawn or sunset, and so on.
Naturally, in case of necessity, cars and especially campers could be employed as a temporary shelter for homeless people.
These are small and not so small measures that would positively influence the well being of an evolved, civil and supportive community, in a dire moment of global threat

2)It was horrible, I swear, I wouldn’t wish an ending like that to anyone. It’s not fair! They were so happy, it looked nothing existed beyond them, and then everything ended in such a baffling way, I just can not accept it. I met the two years ago, here in Linosa a remote island in the Mediterranean, in the one hotel we have here. I have always lived here, they came here for the first time during their holiday, then they kept coming. They loved it here, this remote and sparsely populated island, perfect for their adulterous love. Leo, short for Lion in Italian, was a tall man with moustaches. He was not beautiful but his tan, his athletic body and his Latin charm made him a handsome man. Giovanna, on the other hand, she was gorgeous. She had long black hair curled up on her shoulders, green, deep, captivating eyes and a breathtaking body, not too tall, not too short. Above everything else though, she was a witch. A witch I say. Not like the old ones used to tell about, with the broom and the concoctions, of course, but Leo was completely bewitched by her. You might be inclined to dismiss this to just how attractive she was, but you would be mistaken. What mesmerized Leo was Giovanna’s mind, her voice, her intuitions, her effortless grace and her determination. She was an exceptional woman, and I was captivated by her myself, having heard her talk many times. They loved each other passionately, and I casually saw them, from a slight opening, in that magical ritual of love a couple of times. In a small hotel like this one, you can hear a lot of things andI catched glimpses of information here and there: he was an engineer from Lampedusa, married with two kids. He would often take a boat to come here in Linosa to meet his forbidden love. Giovanna was instead a painter and this island was her very muse that inspired her for her paintings. To be fair, some of them were pretty good. That was a hot night in the middle of august. Of course, Linosa is normally very windy, but that night it felt like it didn’t even exist. They came back from the beach, like they used to, tired but happy. They made love and, that night as well, I heard everything. Then suddenly, the reception called them, I heard a noise and some stifled screams. His wife was coming upstairs with a copy of the keys of their room. They panicked, and without really knowing what they were doing they came to me for refuge. I loved them and I was hoping for a miracle. The wife’s screams, especially when she understood that they were with me, covered the sound of running water. Then the smell made everything clear: it was oil. In a single moment, everything was ablaze. There was no hope for us. Especially for me, that had nothing to do with it. I was a simple wooden wardrobe.

3) The next lockdown will be a large social game, a sort of global video-games where everybody will be a participant. It will be useful to keep everybody compliant with social rules and it will also be very competitive and rewarding: winners will have health and freedom at the same time. Rules will be posted on an online app that everybody will download on their phones. The patented app will monitor everybody’s movement via GPS and everybody’s habits by checking purchases and web searches. The playfields will be cities (winners from each city will then face each other in the grand final match among different states) and everybody will be playing: senior citizens, women, children (above 12 years old). Everybody will have a unique identifier through their Avatar on the app. The main goal of the game is to find winning strategies to make life during the lockdown as efficient and remunerative as possible: some good examples might be to elaborate a grocery list able to satisfy a balanced diet for the largest possible number of days, identify possible solutions to quickly sanitize spaces and people in an efficient way, elaborate recreational activities also that lead to cultural or economical growth. A point system will be in place, and particularly creative or virtuous behaviors will be rewarded with extra points. The reaching of points thresholds is rewarded by obtaining days of freedom to spend by yourself or with others (depending on how many points you make). As the game progresses, new restrictions will be held in place (e.g., no sport, no movies, etc,) which will make the game harder and more challenging but that, in turn, will motivate each player to give their best to beat the other participants, to obtain their beloved “freedom-quota”. Moreover, each new challenge will be made more interesting by introducing intriguing prizes (e.g., a dinner at a one-star Michelin restaurant, a week-end in another city… everything for free of course) or even material supplies for the future (e.g., a delivery test, a ventilator or even a spot in intensive care, depending on the performance). We expect high levels of competitiveness and to spice it up a notch, we are going to introduce beside “Freedom-Quotas”, also penalties for despicable behavior (e.g., going out without permission, buying non-essential goods, engaging in non-elevating activities such as napping, etc.) called “Stay-More-At-Home-Quotas” and involve extending the lockdown period as a punishment and not for health related reasons. Some particularly harsh “Stay-More-At-Home-Quotas” will be given during bank holidays, birthdays and weekends, to act as a deterrent for those that are not taking the game seriously enough. The score of each player will be democratically determined by a “like-dislike” mechanism with other participants of the game, therefore making everybody a ruthless player, an impartial judge and a relentless watcher with themselves and with each other’s behavior.

4) When the maker made everything, while meticulous and with great planning, he didn’t give much attention to some of the aspects that concerned its most beloved creatures: the man and the woman. Of course, the toy worked and it amused it greatly, but the fights and humanity’s most harmful behaviors was a source of constant irritation. At some point it even thought of tossing everything away. Then it calmed down and realized that some light modifications might have proved enough. To make things more interesting, he made a public call, involving mankind itself in the process of proposing the modifications.
Here are my suggestions, critical and above everything, with a low budget approach.
The main drive is the improvement of the human being. The aim is a community based on equality, deprived of those ageless critical points that hindered the process of obtaining of correct point of view on the essence of life, that created and still create sterile discussion and petty discriminations. Therefore, we will equip men and women with a brand new genetic and biological array. Therefore still maintaining some differences, men and women will have the  same physical strength and both will be able to be pregnant. Procreation won’t be an exclusive male-female interaction the spectrum of possibilities will be broadened (female / female, male/male), depending on personal preferences, one own’s character and temporal contingencies (such as work). Within the couple it will be possible to choose who will have the honor/burden to carry the pregnancy, depending on the personal and economical preferences of the family. Ideas like gender equality, motherhood, fatherhood, will be a vestige of the past and we will adopt the more generic notion of parenthood (so progressive!). Moreover, children will be born with developed cognitive abilities and a vast and complete array of notions and deep truths that will be forgotten gradually during the growth to adulthood. Children will, therefore have, since their literal birth day, the task to lead their parents towards a broader self-awareness, helping them to develop their physical and inner potential until they manage to reach a deeper understanding of the material and spiritual world around them. The educational bond between children and parents will be the cornerstone for the building of a society able to know and structure itself in such a way to reach basic concepts like sincerity and equality (again, incredibly progressive ideas here), finally banishing corruption, betrayals and bullying, behaviors that are a direct consequence of a juvenile society that forgets and constantly requires remembering and guidance. The child/teacher growing will start forgetting its abilities as a mentor until, at a certain point, it will need to have children in order to remember the truths of the world, thus creating a rebirth cycle to maintain the essential knowledge of the world.


Answers by Dario De Toffoli:

Everyone is invited to imaginatively paint his or her car and/or write peaceful messages on the roof. The owners of the cars would have the choice whether to use paint that is permanent, or whether to use watercolor that will wash away over time. Photographers and videographers would then take helicopter tours of the world, documenting this mass gesture on behalf of beauty, peace, and unity — even in the midst of untold suffering and disease. The world becomes a little more colorful, and the most creative painted cars are awarded prizes and featured online. The planes are also painted but by 20,000 professional and amateur artists selected in a worldwide competition. On both the cars and the planes, no commercial or promotional messages are allowed.

Park all the airplanes together in some gigantic plain in e.g. Mongolia but near a freshwater source. Then choose the 20,000 most “valuable” families or teams on earth (judged along various dimensions for diversity etc.) and allow them to live in the planes. Park millions cars around the plain to act as a barrier against the outside world. Have a limited number of virus-free “drivers” within the plain who bring water and food to the planes. If the virus gets really bad, at least we have these 20,000 “pods” (plus the drivers) who will survive.

The sabbath lasted less than thought, cause must of the witches wanted to go home to watch the last episode of their preferite soap opera. So Sukie, our witch, went home earlier. In the meantime Daryl, his spouse, was having fun – indeed, much much fun – with Jane, another witch who was supposed to be Sukie best friend. When Daryl heard Sukie arriving home, he hided Jane in the wardrobe., but Sukie immediately realized that something was wrong (she’s a very experienced witch).
Sukie was very angry and lost her mind, so she transformed Daryl into a ferocious Lion and blocked the door.
What will happen next? Jane will come out of the guardroom and deal with the Lion? Or will she stay inside till the end of the time?
You to decise, the final is open.

This device is a new kind of pump that can be connected to already-existing air-conditioning devices. You close all the doors and windows of a room, and then turn on both the air-conditioning part and the air-cushioning part of the device. Slowly there is a decrease in gravity and new possibilities for movement and even slight levitation. The more powerful the air-cushioning, the bigger the decrease in gravity. This device was initially developed in special research laboratories at NASA, but then private industry ran with the concept and made it popular and affordable. The cost is now not much more than conventional air-conditioning.

Everybody is now connected through the internet (well, not precisely everybody, but most). This new electro-sensitive glove adds “touch” to the experience. Two people are involved, each wearing the special gloves which are then connected via an electronic platform (linkable from most of the existing e-learning platforms). They are then not only able to chat and see video of one another, but also to feel the sensation of touching — to give a “real-virtual” hug to each other (and not just hugs 😉). At the moment the gloves can only be used by 2 people, but soon it will be possible to have groups of 3 or more. They will also be used to play board games: to move a piece you no longer click to it, but virtually take it with your glove and move it. (Studies suggest that we play games very differently (and often better) when moving pieces with our hands – and it would be interesting to study whether this is true with the Touch Glove as well, since that is a sort of intermediary between fully physical and fully virtual gaming).

I suggest that the Creator move the position of the human larynx and pharynx, to keep them as they were some 50.000 years ago (and as the pharynx actually still is in very little children). It was this repositioning that allowed Homo Sapiens to undergo the “Big Cognitive Leap” – basically because they become able to articulate far more varied sounds. If the larynx and pharynx were kept as they were, the Leap would not have happened, and Sapiens would not have become the only dominant species. As a result, the world would have stayed much more balanced.

The Creator could make TIME flow a little bit slower (or at least our perception of time, which may just be the same thing), so we all can be a little less in a hurry.

The Creator could prevent the development of the genes that control jealousy and the urge to monogamy. This way everybody is more sexually free, and women can do what they like with no harassment or fear. Everyone becomes more satisfied and less inclined towards violence and fighting. In other words, make human society more like bonobo society (and less like chimpanzee society). In the Bonobo society, humans live happily with very little violence and use sex to help resolve almost any problem.

The Creator could make advanced biological life more like it was a few billion years ago, where we did not die from “natural causes.” Instead of pairing and then giving birth to a distinct individual, and leaving behind two corpses a few decades later, each of us would just naturally split into two, and leave behind no corpse at all. Sex would still exist and be fun, but it would not be essential. Thus many of the problems/wars/resentments caused by the procreative sexual urge (see: Helen of Troy) would never arise.

10 (Gueci) - 15/8
Second gold for Italy!
In the even more complex discipline of GO, even though in the simpler variant of the 9×9 (dimensions of goban), our Carlo Metta conquers a nice victory with 5 out of 5 and bring the italian gold medals to 2. In sixth place ex aequo we find Alessandro Pace, Leonardo De Francesco and Alessandro Martinelli. 28 in total the players.
Even if no other medal was won, it’s impossible not to mention the wood medal (4th place) I got in Creative Thinking that my friend Dario De Toffoli commented extensively. In detail, among the 4 questions I was awarded in the second one (the story I wrote in the previous comments) and I had good placements in the fourth, while the first, less creative compared to the others, I fear it penalized me just what needed.
Then it was the time for a curious backgammon with only 3 checkers, called hypergammen (3pt) where the best among us has been Daniele Ferri, who finished fifth. And tomorrow speed backgammon (5pt) with only 2 minutes for the whole match and 6 seconds for each new move (Bronstein), where the best has been Francesco Ventola only 17th. In both the competitions I managed to get out quickly, but I have to say that die were really unfortunate. In Battle Sheep played our Maurizio De Leo from Singapore, getting 5th place. In Poker 7-card stud no luck where only Piero Zama came 38th, but out of 338 players.
Finally this evening I improvised with Atomic Chess 3′ Arena, a crazy variant of chess where I learnt the rules along the whole tournament 😀. At the end, I have to admit that I had a lot of fun and I ended with a generous 17th place out of 48 players. All of this while I was playing simultaneously poker 5-card draw, but here as in all the other previous poker tournaments I keep seeing no playable cards.
In the overall Pentamind Ankush Khandelwal continues to rule now with 472 points coming before two surprises, Jordi Alexander 445 e Scott Agius 408. But two favorite are coming up strongly, David Pearce 405 and Andres Kuusk with 396. Following the portuguese Ricardo Jorge Gomes 373 and surprisingly myself with 340 (1st among the Senior) and Maurizio De Leo 336. Dario De Toffoli at the moment is 14th with 307, Manfredi Barbaro 24th with 263 and below the others.
See you next time
bye bye
11 (De Toffoli) - 16/8
While Ankush Khandelwal confirms to deserve the Pentamind World Champion title which he already holds, and while he has runaway with more than 470 points; While Andres Kuusk is not resigned at all and is trying to climb; while Italy is well represented in the medals total thanks mainly to the gold coming from Go (!!!) with Carlo Metta in 9×9 and with Alessandro Pace in 13×13 (well done!!!); while there are new players from all over the world approaching this edition, magic by this online edition, and for this reason we learn about the Cyprian Jordi Alexander, the Polish Maciej Brzeski, the American Andrew Smith, the German Ilja Mett and many more; while someone called Riccardo Gueci in full competitive trance (he is playing everything, even simultaneously 😳) is deservedly dispossessing me of my Pentamind Senior title, but has to compete with the never throwing Paco de la Banda (but even if this time there is the world, in the Senior it’s all about us still!!!); while at the high rankings there is the brilliant Maurizio De Leo (with the Singapore flag !?!) who gives himself the luxury to guide the Modern Abstract ranking, above, I don’t know if I’m stressing it enough, the old fox Marc Tastet; while various other Italian players are becoming more passionate about this competition, unique all over the world; while the mythic Spanish juniores (Noa and Victor above everyone) are giving all themselves with many satisfactions; while all of this is happening my only consolation for me is the World Amateur Poker Championship (the combined of many poker tournaments) which, at the end of the first 5 competitions (out of 7 in total) finds myself in a very good position; after the first 4 tournaments I was third, after the fifth maybe I managed to do some improvement… let’s see! But will I be able to defend from the attacks that will come for sure?
We play on Pokerstars, without money, only virtual chips, in 7 different specialty… and it’s this fact that I like the most: NL Hold’em, PL Omaha; L 7-card stud, PL 5-card draw; NL Heads-up Hold’em, Zoom mode; PL Heads-up Omaha Zoom mode; and to close up the new style with reduced deck NL 6+ Hold’em. They are tournaments with a lot of players, NL Hold’em exceeded 1.000 partecipants! Sure, if the levels would increase a little bit slower it would be possible to play better, but it’s ok, it’s an improvement if we have to look at the poker of the last years.




That’s fine, after 5 tournaments out of 7… I enjoy the altitude even if many players can still reach me (only the 5 best rusults do count), Manfredi Barbaro included, in 4th position, that this evening in the 6th tournament reached a very good placement; we should be almost there, in a couple of hundredth points.

12 (De Toffoli) - 21/8
After two days off (used to train) wednsday evening we start over again with the last poker tournament out of 7; it’s time for 6+ Hold’em, for me an absolute novelty, it’s Hold’em with a reduced deck (36 cards, 2s-3s-4s-5s are removed): more action, higher hands, flush wins on full, couples lose value in hand. 380 players and I finish 16th, with some regrets and the 96 points I get make me win the bronze in the combined series, exageratingly called Amateur Poker World Championship. It’s ok, if I think that tournaments have had up to over 1.000 partecipants. And I like to think also that in the overall sum of the whole 7 results (but in the combined you have to rightfully discard two of them) I did better than enybody else, as all the 7 results were above 80 Pentamind points. In the ranking other italians too: Alessia Mercuri 7th (and she played only 5 competitions), Manfredi Barbaro 9th and Piero Nabendu Zama 16th.
In the 6+ tournament I have to mention the superb performance of Piero Zama, who gained a beautiful Bronze and we have also an Italian Silver, even though it is a mistery: his nick is “venere000″… but we don’t know who he/she is, because probably entered via Pokerstars without register to the MSO.
I have to admit that the Pokerstars platform is very well done and has improved the olympic poker.
In the Pentamind I’m very low though and also Paco de la Banda and Riccardo Gueci – my direct opponents in Pentamind Senior – have a kind of worryngly gap… would that be impossible to recover?

Ok, tuesday I try Oware, it’s one of my favourite game but I don’t play it since 2017, because at the last two MSO it was at the same time with other tournaments and I did not practice. Some training games and the mechanics come back to my mind, and I have to admit that on the platform it’s easy to play, as the holes have also the numbers of the seeds in them. I thrive a little bit and I win 6 out of 7 games, losing only to the super favourite Kazakh Serikaktayev: it’s bronze out of 71 players, that is 96 Pentamind points… we start to be reasonable.

In this video at minute 2:15:40 you can follow one of my end games when, while 21 to 21, I gained the edge on my opponent and conquer the sixth and decisive point.

I want to play again Oware… and maybe I will, training with the promising Piero Modolo.

In the meanwhile, it’s a feast of Italian medals… and we consider Italian those by Maurizio De Leo, even if he is playing with Singapore flag, the country where he lives now (maybe we shouldn’t greet him anymore?😜). It’s worth noting that De Leo is way ahead in the ranking of the modern abstract, that works the same as the poker combined.
To him 2 silvers, on 2 of his most beloved abstracts: one in Zertz, a nice chapter in the project Gipf, and one in Checkers Giveaway, losing checkers, just to know.
Finally Silver in Terra Mystica by David Fulterer. And I hope I didn’t forget anyone.

This evening Can’t Stop, a true classic by Sid Sackson.


13 (Maurizio De Leo) - 22/8
Recap of the last two days.
Tuesday simultaneous Hex and Oware reveals itself to be too difficult. They are games too different from each other, not like Zertz and Giveaway checkers. And they tend to be more tactical, and less playable at “glance”. Finally, the short time limit causes me some trouble.
At the end, at Hex I did as expected (3 wins out of 5) and some more points for the combined in the modern abstract games. As I predicted, a player from Little Golem (Daniel Sepczuk) wins even though somebody didn’t show (Arek Kulczycki, Maciej Celuch).
The ever strong Maciej Brzeski (first on BGA with 800+ elo) have to be satisfied with a 4/5, second place and 83 points for the pentamind. If he won, he would have taken 96, getting first place in the overall ranking, above Ankush Khandelwal!
In Oware, you know everything about the great performance of Dario, Bronze. Even here, my prediction came true and two Khazaks, players of Toguz Kumalak who also enjoy Oware win with the same points. I finish 4/7 with a lot of regrets in two of the lost matches. I think that 5/7 was more that reachable by playing only one tournament and that would bring me many pentamind points, considering the high number of players. For the next year, more focus on the selection of the tournaments to play in.
Yesterday (Friday), Twixt tournament.
I thought to forfeit, as I don’t know the game very well, I need to sleep and some fever. But at the end I want to play a lot, so I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and here we go.
Desreved victory for David Bush, who finished at full wins. Florian Jamain 4/5 second with others and then a group at 3/5 with also our Cosimo Cardellicchio and the always there Maciej Brzeski.
I win the second game against Rabaca, but then I get all strong players and no bye. I close 1/5, last but one and even under Rabaca.
Coming back more trained next year.
14 (De Leo) - 25/8
Chronicle of the last two days (TDLR: Silver in Veletas)
Saturday I try Quarto, even if it is one of the abstracts I like the least. Many players aren’t aware that for this tournament we will play with advanced rules (squares 2×2); to be honest it is written in very little letters on BGA and nothing about it in the MSO website. While discussing in chat, many doesn’t see that the second round has started and are forced to forfeit. Polemics explode, but the organization manage the thing, keeping the current tournament and creating a new one with the basic rules. I end 3.5/7 demonstrating that advanced rules do not prevent ties.
During the night NackGammon tournament. i win the first turn against the organizer Julia Hayward; I play decently, but the computer says I was the most lucky. Second turn I’m out against Marc Tastet. We played on the same level, more or less, but not very good.

On sunday my wife, after observing me for 3 weeks, decides she is going to partecipate too! I manage the subscriptions and a new BGA account and she tries Carcassonne and Lost Cities. In the first good performance with 4 out of 7, beating also a strong opponent. In Lost Cities only a win, also because the tournament finished at 5 a.m. and she played from 6 p.m., while breastfeeding, cooking, etc.

I decide to pass on the Go 19×19, because there are too many strong players for a sdk as mine. I pass also, sadly, “Antichess”, because I learnt that simultaneous tournaments are not that easy and I don’t think I will be able to get a better result than in Atomic Chess.

The Veletas tournament starts at 2:30 a.m. It’s a game I tried only a couple of times with Giocat Generic and I’m not crazy about it, but it’s still an abstract. Surprise the tournament is single elimination; maybe with 13 players it would have been possible to make a Swiss, but considering the final result I cannot complain.
First turn I win 3-2 smoothly against a player with 150 elo on BGA.
Second turn I meet David Pearce who misses a couple tactics and loses 3-0 neat.
In semifinal I meet the strongest player, a russian with more than 400 elo. I’m not positive, but Giocat Generic tells me to think one point at a time without thinking about the rating. A beautiful match. I start and I keep the advantage for a while; then it’s on the 1-1. I try to make a trap, threatening a point, but in reality thinking about making two in another side. But I should have done it in a more suttle way, because my opponent understand the trick immediately. We ended 2-2 in a very complex endgame. I think I have the advantage when suddenly the time runs out. BGA gives the victory to me because I’m -6 seconds while my opponent was -14. In the final I meet another Italian, who I didn’t know. I made a blunder in the opening and I’m down 1-0. I defend the position going 1-1 and then 2-1 for my opponent. We are both running out of time and there are many mistake by both of us (he didn’t see the victory in one move). In the endgame I manage to recover a little bit in a virtual 2-2, but then with negative time and in a difficult situation I start moving immediately, also remembering the semifinal, and I lose 3-1 (3-2 virtually).

Congratulations to my opponent for the deserved gold. Third silver for me and first in which I had a real chance to win. The second place bring me temporarily ahead in the ranking for the modern abstract, but I should have won to have the hope of being first until the end.

15 (Gueci) - 25/8
5 Golds, 6 Silvers, 6 Bronzes for Italy!
Before the last rush, we gain even more medals. Here is the summary of our winners, by now:

GO (9×9) – Carlo Metta = Gold.
GO (13×13) – Alessandro Pace = Gold.
Othello – Alessandro Di Mattei = Gold.
Veletas – Giacomo Frassoldati = Gold.
GO (19×19) – Davide Bernardis = Oro Junior, 3rd overall.
Backgammon (3pt KO) – Ildebrando Pietravalle = Silver.
Chess (10′ Swiss) – Mirko Trasciatti = Silver.
Poker (NL Holdem 6+) – Venere000 = Silver.
Quarto (Standard) – Daniele Ferri = Silver.
Stone Age – Stefano Teatini = Silver.
Terra Mystica – Devid Fulterer = Silver.
Backgammon (1pt KO) – Piero Zama = Bronze.
Can’t Stop – Simona Costa = Bronze.
Lost Cities – Francesco Fiordoliva = Bronze.
Oware – Dario De Toffoli = Bronze.
Perudo – Piero Zama = Bronze.
Poker (NL Holdem 6+) – Piero Zama = Bronze.

We have to mention also other 3 Silvers gained by another italian, Maurizio De Leo, who is living from 2007 in Singapore, where he has wife and children, and prefered to play under that flag. He won them in Checkers (Checkers Giveaway), Veletas and Zerzt.
It’s a pity to not be able to include them with ours, but that’s it.

I want to mention also the wood medals, more or less, that in many tournaments have almost reached the medals:
First thing first Lorenzo Del Vecchio third, but losing bronze out of technical tiebreaker (King Domino), then Francesco Salerno with 2 woods (Dominion and Hive), myself too with two woods (Creative Thinking and Nackgammon 7pt), Cosimo Cardellicchio (Twixt), Alessandro Martinelli (GO 13×13), Mirko Trasciatti (Chess ThreeCheck 2′), Marco Conte (Nackgammon 7pt), Daniele Ferri (Hipergammon (3pt), Maurizio De Leo (Battle Sheep).

To mention that Piero Zama in Perudo came in first position ex aequo and for a not well known tiebreak he received the Bronze (but there’s a petition on the thing) and that as of now it’s not known the identity of our Silver in Poker (Holdem 6+) by Venere000 (online everybody play with a nickname).

Now let’s figure out the important ranking of the Pentamind (overall, Senior and by specialty).

In the overall ranking the former champion is leading since day 1, Ankush Khandelwal with 486,35 but the true revelation about this edition has been the polish Maciej Brzeski who won 5 Golds, 3 Silvers and 2 Bronzes, and he is almost there with 478,42. To be honest any update in the tournament results, that rightfully take it’s time, can already change the things, will see.
Thinr position for another surprise, the Cypriot Jordi Alexander, with 477,52 while “only” fourth place for one of the favourite, the estonian Andres Kuusk, only few hundredth below at 476,65, and not much below another outsider, with 469,50, the english Joe Mela.
A little bit more below the others.
The next tournaments will be impotant (last day Sunday 30th August) and it’s possible that everything will be decided by cuple of fraction of points.

The big choice of online tournaments, the high count of players (thousands in poker) and the possibility to play simultaneously have raise the overall score of the best players, and there are more players competing for the top spots.

In the Pentamind Senior it’s the same, both for the victory and the podium. This time with the usual oldies 😉 there are “new” ones that are playing with competitive spirit and enthusiasm, online, who manage to get over the strongest there are none.
First place for the Spanish champion Juan Francisco García de la Banda, for the friends “Paco” with 439,01.
And I’m there at only 26 hundredth points with 438,75.
Third place for our captain, Dario De Toffoli, with 394,92 and in fourth place Piero Zama with 357,19.
But even here it’s not already written. Dario has another ace to play, today for example in Acquire and in the following days with Backgammon, his battle horse, but also Piero can easily get a higher score in his fourth and fifth performance with the next tournaments. So nothing is decided yet.
The poker combined is instead closed and Martin Isaac won, coming before Jamie Reeve and brilliant Bronze by Dario De Toffoli who believed until the last moment in a first place. I have to mention Alessia Mercuri 7th and Manfredi Barbaro 10th.
See you next time
bye bye

16 (Leonardo Caviola) - 30/8
Ore 23.18 posto i saluti e le congratulazioni allo staff delle MSO su discord dopo aver giocato l’ultimo torneo del giorno di chiusura di questo evento on line. Un po’ di malinconia per la fine di una breve avventura che ci ha accompagnato in questo strano Agosto 2020 per colpa del Covid. Ringrazio l’amico Daniele Ferri per avermi invitato in questo inizialmente piccolo gruppo, ho provato a portare entusiasmo (postando le medaglie vinte) e coinvolgendo nuovi giocatori su cui spero aver gettato le basi per una partecipazione il prox anno nell’edizione Live. Siamo cresciuti come iscritti e ci siamo conosciuti tutti confrontando le ns. specifiche formazioni ludiche e posso dire di aver rafforzato amicizie (i ragazzi di Napoli conosciuti al Partenoplay Francesco Ventola e Alessia Mercuri) e trovate di nuove nei ragazzi di Palermo (Manfredi Barbaro e Riccardo Gueci), ai romani amici l’augurio di rivederci presto in qualche serata in Civetta o da Orfea. L’elenco è un po’ lunghetto, ne cito solo qualcuno: Stefano Teatini (argento a S.A.), Francesca Mauri, Marco De Simone e gli astrattisti Alessandro Boh Pace, Alessandro Di Mattei (gli ori romani del Go e dell’Othello)… da Milano Gabriele Timolati, da Latina Stefano Pikkio Marchetto (argento a M.P.), da Torino Gianfranco Gfb Buccoliero. Su tutti un ringraziamento al ns capitano Dario De Toffoli, il cui link della pagina di studiogiochi ho spammato in questi ultimi 30 giorni… Vi confesso a breve posterò le mie analisi statistiche sulle partecipazioni degli italiani a queste MSO, ci sono alcuni curiosi numeri.
Dedica speciale a Maurizio De Leo, validissimo multiplayer ma ahinoi la sua bandiera è bianca-rossa: veramente un peccato non averlo avuto “in squadra”. Oggi è terzo nella classifica pentamind dei moderni astratti con 419 pt. Bravissimo
17 (De Toffoli) - 1/9

This time the whole world was partecipating, but at the end the PENTAMIND is still in his hands, he is the World Champion for the third time in a row. And he gained the title in a series of results that is incredible. He is at the level of the phenomenal Hassabis of the first years.

So, this incredible experience of the online MSO has ended and I liked it a lot, even though it was my worst performance ever!
Before giving some details some general consideration.
Ok, not everything has been perfect, but overall the organizer Etan Ilfeld and his staff did an excellent job, way better than expected, a great improvement for the MSO! Specifically I would like to thank Mike Dixon and Julia Hayward, who did an incredible and meticulous job, continuously answering also to the endless number of those (me included) who asked about everything. Bravi!

It has been cool to discover and practice this new world of the online board games, not only poker, backgammon and chess, but hundreds and hundreds of other games. This is the real new thing in the board gaming world, and it is rapidly growing.
For sure live it’s all another thing, but with all the platform of today’s world we are way more connected than I expected. And that’s something that will remain, because I will continue to play with Riccardo, Paco, Nabe, Piero and many more even if I will not sit at the same table. A big achievement.

It has been cool to see a team spirit born and rise, to see many friends and players approaching the competition (and understanding its peak form, the Pentamind) and cheer for each others even if they never met in person. And much of the merit goes to Leonardo Caviola, who did a great work of promotion, feeding this beautiful game spirit. Also this conquest will remain.

As for myself, I’m in an overall position that I’m a little ashamed of, ok, 41st… maybe it was better to go down one position more, as you know 42 is my favourite number!
Sure, I’m a little sorry for myself, but after the first moment of frustration, believe it or not, I’m more than fine with seing other italians coming before me in the Pentamind and to see that many more have the capabilities to overcome me. Let’s put it this way: I was relieved by the weight of a “responsibility” that I kept for more that twenty years. Very good. Also this is a conquest that will remain.

The italian medals have been many and you can find them in this page dedicated to the MSO-2020, clicking in the title above. Soon there will be coming a beautiful serie of statistics on the italian partecipation by Leonardo Caviola.
As the time goes by, we will update with more videos and other contents.
Whoever is interested to the overall results can go to the page of Julia ( where you will be able to find an absurd quantity of well organized datas, about this and the past editions.

Can’t Stop
Beautiful classic by Sid Sackson, introduced this year at the MSO, that I play gladly. Luck has a very important role for sure, but I think I can play well enough with probability. Let’s say that here was finally uncovered the truth: I managed to lose a game without making any of my tokens enter the board, and believe me, I can stop when the tactic says it’s better to! But that’s fine, I had fun calculating all the probabilities of the triads. We will talk about this in the future.

Ticket to Ride
Here I had no expectations as I played only against the AI of the platform DoW. But, playing on the USA map and its simplified rules it was clear that to win you should have had at least a nice and long objective, those with 6 trains straight: it’s clear that if you have the north-south objectives, maybe a little going east, you are done from the start. Ok, in three games I manage to not draw those objective even once, then I would have lost nevertheless against much more prepared opponets, but… Fine, I learnt a lot and I’m still of the opinion that I like the Europe map more and its more elegant rules.

Playing with the bad Asmodee rulse (that’s the rules BGA uses) and I scored a decent 4/7. There has been a mistery by Piero Nabendu Zama, who finished on top (6/7 with others) and to whom they assigned the bronze. Considering the tiebeaker of the Swiss Perfect (Median Buchholz, Buchholz, Progressive) he should have won the gold, but on BGA there is only the Bucholz, therefore Gold for everybody. To be mention that the organization, once the mistake was reported, corrected immediately.

This has been for me the most frustrated chapter, as I usually was able to gain some medals even without partecipating to all the tournaments. Ok, this year 8 knock out tournaments (this is not a good thing and shoud be revised) and I played all of them without doing anything good. Let me “cry” a minute, just a minute. 7 times out of 8 I played the pre-turn; 7 out 8 I was out in the first rounds by an opponent that had a PR (performance rating) much worse than mine (aka played worse than me) and a Luckmaster (measurement of luck) way higher than mine. Fine, end of the crying minute, backgammon is like that, it’s like life, and I have to accept it. Then we have to say that I was also not used to play online and with little time, so my PR was not exceptional too, usually around 10. Interesting for me the new Hypergammon and the Backgammon (I will not explain them, search if you are curious about them); crazy the Blitz variant (game 5pt with total time of 1 min + 4 sec), it was even hard to do the necessary clicks.

Big two players tournament, very nice, I get some experience and I won also a couple of matches.

Lost cities
Fine, once upon a time I used to win at this game, but now there is no way, I lose even against my wife… maybe the others went on and I was stuck back.

Here it was a suffering. After the second match I was in first place, top 4 after the fourth, bad result in the 5th that leave me out from the final table but I’m still at table 2. The last game was a nightmare; all the game with the 6.000 starting money and from the beginning I was in all the three companies foreseeing the fusion, with a dozen of good squares… that never came out. I never experienced something like this and… bye bye medals and high ranking. It has been difficult to accept.

The great Ankush won, winning also the world title for the “European games”; a total of 6 golds (!!!) and many more other medals.
Honor spot for the very good Cypriot Jordi Alexander, then Joe Mela who came out 3rd thanks to the points from the Speed reading and that’s funny (to mention Gueci) because it is a discipline based on language and should not be counted for the Pentamind; fourth the very strong polish Maciej Brzeski. 5th the always good performing Andres Kuusk. It’s worth noting that the emotions came out until the end and that these 5 players were all there until the end… between the 488,77 by Ankush and the 479,99 by Andres.
As for the italians the best has been Riccardo Gueci (18th), followed by Manfredi Barbaro (23rd), Maurizio De Leo (24th) who gets also a “-” on the mark because he played with the Singapore flag, then me (41st), Stefano Teatini (42nd) and Zama (45th). In the first 100 also Daniele Ferri, Leonardo Caviola, Francesco Ventola, Bernardo Battistotti, Giacomo Frassoldati and Marco Conte.

ok, for the first time the title slipped from my hands, but the podium has remained the same. position changed.
First place for the great Paco de la Banda (17th overall), who beated for just a little (only 88 hundredth of point) a well shaped Riccardo Gueci. Bronze for me, coming a little before Nabe, but making more tournaments than him.
I have to mention that this year there were a lot of senior partecipating, but only we were into the Pentamind ranking with 5 results: random event? Or maybe it’s very difficult to compete in many disciplines at our age.

All in all. Good like this, I’m fine with my 3 bronzes and the pleasure to have partecipated in this competition, with a full new form.
But in the meanwhile I can’t stop thinking about one thing, I can’t stop my brain… let’s see, I will wait a bit and then maybe we will talk about this again.


18 (De Leo) - 1/9
Anche da parte mia qualche considerazione finale su queste MSO 2020.
0) Mi sono divertito un sacco e nonostante le notti insonni lo rifarei domani: questo alla fine e’ l’importante. Porto a casa tre argenti e una medaglia di legno nella combinata degli astratti. Meglio delle mie aspettative, ma dispiace un po’ per il bronzo della combinata che e’ sfuggito all’ultimo minuto. E’ chiaramente il miglior risultato tra i giocatori di Singapore, a giustificare una scelta criticata 🙂
L’anno prossimo gioco per l’Italia, se Julia mi fa cambiare la bandierina 😃
1) Congratulazioni all’organizzazione, che ha saputo gestire i problemi inevitabili con lo spostamento online. I problemi sono stati molti (gestione dell’orologio sulle varie piattaforme, gestione della comunicazione sulle regole, etc.) ma gli organizzatori si sono sempre spesi per cercare di “mettere una toppa”. Essendo stato arbitro e organizzatore, so che non e’ mai facile. Un team veramente tosto.
2) Mi ero sbagliato sull’abbassamento dei punteggi del Pentamind. La presenza di “specialisti” ha influito, togliendo qualche posizione ai combinatisti. Pero’ un effetto opposto e ben maggiore lo hanno avuto altri fattori:
L’incremento del numero dei partecipanti (con 1000 giocatori ad un torneo, 50 fanno piu’ di 95 punti)
La possibilita’ di giocare in simultanea e lungo il periodo di un mese che ha aumentato il numero di “chances”
3) Cinque giochi sono forse un po’ pochi per giocatori poliedrici che giocano a tutto “bene ma non benissimo”. Premia di piu’ focalizzarsi/allenarsi su tre-quattro eventi provando ad andare a medaglia e poi raccattare un altro paio di buoni risultati.
Personalmente preferisco la formula della Abstract Games League di Luca Cerrato o del trofeo Alfonso X di Musichess, ma sono gusti.
4) Ci sono (forse inevitabilmente) giochi di serie A e serie B.
4A) Gli astratti classici (Go, Oware, Gomoku, Shogi, etc.) non contano per nessuna combinata a parte il Pentamind. Personalmente li avrei accorpati con i moderni; non vedo grande differenza con Othello ad esempio. Paradossalmente sono anche tra i giochi con piu’ teoria e materiale da studiare. Jordi Alexander nell’intervista spiegava come lui riesca a “padroneggiare” un gioco in 6-8 ore, ma sfido anche i piu’ talentuosi del mondo a vincere a Go o a Shogi senza mesi di allenamento.
4B) Poker e Backgammon sono fondamentali per il Pentamind. Il fattore fortuna, unito a tornei ad eliminazione, unito ad un numero elevato di tornei, fa si’ che siano irrinunciabili per il Pentamind. I primi 5 classificati assoluti hanno tutti un evento di Poker nei primi 3 risultati. Specie nei tornei “turbo” o con i match a 1 punto, anche un giocatore mediocre come me puo’ fare piu’ di 90 punti pentamind se inanella colpi di fortuna. Il rovescio della medaglia e’ che anche giocatori forti come Dario, se non assistiti dalla sorte possono uscire presto.
5) The show must go on… Se qualcuno si vuole allenare per l’anno prossimo o semplicemente continuare a giocare, mi piacerebbe organizzare qualche match di allenamento. Preferisco gli astratti, ma qualsiasi gioco da due giocatori di queste MSO va bene, a parte il poker che e’ bloccato a Singapore. Contattatemi in PM e possiamo organizzarci.
19 (Manfredi Barbaro) - 2/9
Dopo le mie premiazioni virtuali, ringrazio l’amico Leonardo Caviola per quest’opera, voglio scrivere anch’io due righe su questa meravigliosa esperienza.
A me le MSO sono piaciute e sono piaciute tanto. 1)Ho “incontrato” un sacco di persone divertenti e competenti sui giochi, 2)ho conosciuto il server bga che sconoscevo e che mi sta dando la possibilità di migliorare i giochi che praticavo e di scoprirne una vastità alla quale non sarei mai potuto arrivare,3) l’organizzazione che ha gestito l’evento è stata sempre pronta nelle risposte e gli si può perdonare qualche inglesismo di troppo; 4) mi sono divertito un sacco.
Unico grande rammarico il pentamind del poker 😭😭😭
Un abbraccio a tutti. 😁😄
20 (Caviola) - 2/9
A MSO finite andiamo ad assegnare le medaglie italiche o meglio virtuali coccarde (uso questo termine per distinguerlo da medaglia) considerando i piazzamenti fra italiani, ci sono premiati chi nei tornei non ha avuto il piacere di un trofeo.
1° – Coccarda d’oro a Riccardo Gueci
2° – Coccarda d’argento a Manfredi Barbaro
3° – Coccarda di bronzo a Dario De Toffoli
1° – Coccarda d’oro a Stefano Teatini
2° – Coccarda d’argento a Gabriele Timolati
3° – Coccarda di bronzo a Leonardo Caviola
1° – Coccarda d’oro a Gianfranco Gfb Buccoliero
2° – Coccarda d’argento a Francesco Salerno
1° – Coccarda d’oro a Dario De Toffoli (3° assoluto)
2° – Coccarda d’argento a Alessia Mercuri
3° – Coccarda di bronzo a Manfredi Barbaro
1° – Coccarda d’oro a Daniele Ferri
2° – Coccarda d’argento a Paolo Arcudi
3° – Coccarda di bronzo a Alessia Mercuri
1° – Coccarda d’oro a Mirko Trasciatti
2° – Coccarda d’argento a Riccardo Gueci
3° – Coccarda di bronzo a Piero Mazzilli
21 (Gueci) - 2/9
Report finale
Ad Ankush Khandelwal il suo 4° Pentamind Assoluto.
L’Italia con 23 medaglie è 7^.
Argento personale nel Pentamind Senior 😊
Il 2 agosto alle 14.00 è iniziata la volata vincente di Ankush Khandelwal, con il torneo di Bridge, e fino a notte inoltrata del 30 agosto, con Agricola e il Backgammon, non ha mai lasciato la testa della prestigiosa classifica del Pentamind Assoluto.
Il suo terzo trofeo consecutivo, il quarto del suo carniere.
488,77 i punti totali ottenuti quest’anno dall’inglese di origini indiane Ankush, accompagnati da ben 6 medaglie d’Oro, 2 Argento e 2 Bronzo, con le quali balza al comando della speciale classifica delle Medaglie di tutti i tempi con ben 53 Oro!
Davvero fantastico!
Indubbiamente il numero 1 assoluto delle Mind Sports Olympiad!
Se in questi anni abbiamo avuto il piacere/onore di conoscere un genio indubbio come Demis Hassabis, dimostrato oltre che nei giochi anche nella vita (DeepMind, AlphaZero ecc.), per quanto riguarda l’abilità nei giochi, Ankush sta dimostrando certamente di non essergli meno.
Al secondo posto con 486,31 si è piazzato il sorprendente cipriota Jordi Alexander, mentre al terzo con 483,63 si è inserito sul finire l’inglese Joe Mela, beneficiando della discutibile gara di lettura veloce (in inglese ovviamente), che ha superato per 71 centesimi di punto, una delle rivelazioni di quest’anno, il polacco Maciej Brzeski, che per i suoi 7 Oro (5 a Scacchi però), 4 Argento e 3 Bronzo, ad un certo punto si pensava potesse pure vincere.
“Solo” quinto con 477,99 uno dei favoriti della vigilia, l’estone Andres Kuusk. Inusuale per lui non salire sul podio, ma l’edizione di quest’anno online ha decisamente cambiato qualcosa.
L’alto numero di partecipazioni (ben oltre 10mila iscrizioni per 100 tornei diversi), i super specialisti a volte anche dei Campioni del mondo che vi hanno partecipato, il punteggio assegnato più tarato forse a tornei dal vivo che online, le piattaforme così diverse e non sempre comparabili per prestazioni, possono aver influito sul piazzamento, specie quando poi a decidere sono solo i centesimi di punto o qualche punto striminzito.
Bravissimi comunque gli organizzatori, Etan Ilfeld soprattutto, Julia Hayward, ma anche Mike Dixon, per aver saputo con abilità trasformare un evento esclusivo dal vivo, in un mese di divertenti gare online. Grazie!
Certo non tutto è filato liscio e a volte ognuno di noi si è lamentato di qualcosa, ma col senno del poi è molto facile criticare e dire come si sarebbe potuto fare, semmai si potrà ricavare davvero tanto da questa esperienza per fare dei notevoli passi avanti, nello sfortunato caso di essere costretti a ripetere così le MSO, ma anche eventualmente nell’ideare un’alternativa Olimpiade solo online.
Ma torniamo alle classifiche.
Innanzitutto a conferma di quanto sopra va sottolineato che campioni già vincitori del Pentamind gli anni passati hanno avuto difficoltà ad emergere stavolta: David Pierce 11°, Paco Garcia de La Banda 17°, Alain Dekker 21°, Martyn Hamer 25°, Tim Hebbes 37°, il nostro capitano Dario De Toffoli 41° e James Heppell 66°.
Il migliore degli azzurri è stato chi vi scrive 18°, seguito da un sorprendente Manfredi Barbaro 23° visto che era la sua prima partecipazione, quindi Maurizio De Leo (che sebbene battente bandiera di Singapore, citiamo lo stesso 😉 ) 24°, e a seguire (fra i primi 100) Dario De Toffoli, Stefano Teatini, Piero Zama, Daniele Ferri, Leonardo Caviola, Francesco Ventola, Bernardo Battistotti, Giacomo Frassoldati e Marco Conte. 95 in totale gli italiani che hanno provato a dare un contributo.
L’Italia è arrivata settima e ha complessivamente vinto:
5 medaglie d’Oro con Alessandro Di Mattei, Carlo Metta, Alessandro Pace, Piero Zama e Giacomo Frassoldati.
8 medaglie d’Argento con Stefano Teatini, Ildebrando Pietravalle, Daniele Ferri, Mirko Trasciatti, Devid Fulturer, Stefano Marchetto, Venere000 e dal sottoscritto.
9 medaglie di Bronzo con Dario De Toffoli (ben 3), Piero Zama (2), Simona Costi, Alessia Mercuri, Francesco Salerno e Francesco Fiordoliva.
1 medaglia d’Oro Junior con Davide De Bernardis.
L’Inghilterra/Gran Bretagna (le mettiamo insieme perchè davvero curiosa è questa divisione che nel medagliere fanno. “Sono strani questi inglesi”) ha come sempre vinto il maggior numero di medaglie, ma indubbiamente qualche gara favorisce troppo i madre lingua inglesi, cosa che decisamente in futuro cambierei assolutamente.
Seconda la Polonia, poi prima dell’Italia: USA, Russia, Ungheria ed Estonia. 56 le Nazioni che hanno almeno vinto una medaglia.
C’è comunque da sottolineare che per il fuso orario non propizio molti cinesi, coreani, giapponesi ecc. non hanno partecipato.
Il Pentamind Junior è stato totalmente appannaggio spagnolo, ma come detto per via del fuso orario gli usuali loro contendenti i giovani coreani temo abbiano gareggiato svantaggiati.
Primo con 404,16 punti e 31° assoluto, Victor Manuel Hernández Luis, seguito da Noa Concepciòn Martin 402,92, terzo Rubèn Pons Serra 358,29. Il nostro De Bernardis con il solo GO ovviamente non riesce ad entrare nei primi 40.
Il Pentamind Women ha visto la conferma della simpatica estone Madli Mirme con 429,14 punti e 20^ assoluta, davanti alla spagnola Noa Concepciòn Martìn 402,92 e alla statunitense Kaya Chua 384,86. 13^ la nostra brava Alessia Mercuri. Da correggere ovviamente l’inserimento in questa lista di Alessio Salzano 🙂
Infine il Pentamind Senior.
Vince l’Oro il Campione spagnolo Paco García de la Banda con 439,01 e 17° assoluto. A soli 88 centesimi di distacco, quindi con 438,13 giunge il sottoscritto che conquista l’Argento, mentre il Bronzo va quest’anno a Dario De Toffoli con 394,92 che da quando è stato istituito il trofeo Senior lo aveva sempre vinto. Quarto Piero Zama con 391,26 che però ha il merito d’aver vinto più medaglie di pregio fra gli italiani, 1 Oro e 2 Bronzi)
Da sottolineare che nonostante si sia ‘vecchietti’ le nostre performance siano state tutte migliori di tutti i numerosi Junior agguerriti che vi erano in circolazione e che indubbiamente avevano maggiore dimestichezza informatica rispetto a noi “boomer”. Sappiamo ancora vendere cara la pelle! 😛
Negli ultimi giorni di gara ho provato di tutto per recuperare i pochi centesimi di svantaggio che avevo su Paco, ma le diverse occasioni avute sempre per un soffio mi sono sfumate.
In verità sono contento lo stesso, quest’anno era davvero dura prendere una medaglia 🙂
Personalmente è stato un mese di gara estremamente divertente anche se alcuni giorni particolarmente duro e faticoso è stato stare per moltissime ore davanti ad un computer e a volte anche davanti a due schermi per alcuni tornei dove ho avuto la presunzione di giocare simultaneamente.
Ho partecipato a 33 tornei diversi, ma se vi sembrano troppi vorrei ricordare che Ankush ne ha fatti 45!
Naturalmente diversi tornei di Scacchi mi hanno appassionato maggiormente, sebbene regolarmente ho sprecato partite vinte, poi sorprendente è stato il Bridge e il Nackgammon, buono un torneo di Poker, anche se nella maggior parte sembravo litigatissimo con le carte, poi soddisfacente il torneo di Quarto e di Perudo, interessante il mio debutto a Entropy, ma anche a Lines of Action, mentre abbastanza shoccante Hex, deludente invece perchè troppo arruginito l’Othello, sfortunatissimo a Can’t Stop e Lost Cities, pessimo a Stratego Duel ma per la peggiore piattaforma di gioco e la terribile organizzazione (solo un po’ meglio lo Stratego classic) e infine peccato per il Quoridor dove una mia banale non conoscenza del sito mi ha estromesso dal torneo dopo il primo turno (non avevo velleità per carità, ma confrontarmi mi sarebbe piaciuto).
Ho lasciato per ultimo il commento alla prova che mi ha divertito di più per la sua originalità, il Pensiero Creativo.
L’aver vinto una delle 4 tracce proposte mi ha reso molto felice e l’aver mancato la medaglia per 1 (il Bronzo) e 3 punti (l’Argento) di contro mi è dispiaciuto davvero.
Chi ha avuto l’ardire di seguire i miei precedenti Report sa già tutto.
Chiudo con le classifiche speciali dove cito il Bronzo di Dario al Campionato mondiale di Poker Amatori (il 7° di Alessia Mercuri e il 10° di Manfredi), il 5° posto al Campionato di Backgammon di Daniele Ferri, l’8° posto al Campionato di Scacchi di Mirko Trasciatti, il 10° posto al campionato degli Eurogames di Stefano Teatini e infine il 4° posto al campionato dei giochi Astratti di Maurizio De Leo di Singapore.
Sperando di non aver dimenticato nulla termino questo mio lungo resoconto finale, precisando che le tabelle che allego sono state redatte dal prezioso Leonardo Caviola che ha tenuto molto ben vivo la pagina dedicata “Mind Sports Olympiad 2020 – Italian Team” creata ad hoc da Daniele Ferri e gli altri.
Ciao a tutti e al prossimo anno.
Bye Bye
22 (Jordi Alexander) - 2/9
After competing in 17 unique disciplines over the month of August- 12 of which were almost or completely new to me at the start, my first crack at the all around title of the Mind Sports Olympiad aka the Pentamind, finished with partial success – a quite decent score of 486/500 for my top 5 scoring events which translated to a close second place finish.
I’ve enjoyed reading some of the other contestant’s “Chronicles of the MSO” so I thought I’d post my own for those who are interested in such things.I’ll make another post describing my events in summary but first some general thoughts to share-
1. Why undertake such a task?
I’ve found that when I push myself to the limits of performance, through the struggle I unlock new abilities which are then usefully applicable to all kinds of challenges in my life, and this is massively valuable for myself but also those around me. Sounds fluffy so here are some specifics- professional poker taught me how to outthink others and perform under pressure. Trading then taught me the value of having a systematic approach and discipline, which I lacked in my poker days. Since then an obsession with the ‘performance mindset’ have pushed me further in both and everything else I attempt. Many stories on this for another time and place, including how a few years ago after my “A-ha” moment finally cracking World Series of Poker performance with my back2back 5th/3rd place finishes, I went back to work and took the mindset to straight away achieve what was at the time a big record trading month. Most importantly I have learnt to have an exponential mindset for improvement, not a linear mindset. That means instead of trying to improve 1->2->3->4.. its 2,4,8,16, and LFG! Will share more about this mindset in the future in either a podcast or blog post.
2. What did I end up learning from this challenge?
1 word- resilience. Looking back now the whole thing seems borderline crazy. The hours themselves with most events being from 2am to 7am local time here was reason enough not to even try, and was truly grueling on the body- not to mention keeping sharp past 5am became a real battle each time. Putting aside the extremely demanding 24×5 job and cute but dictator 1-year old who at several times each night demands indentured servitude for long stretches at a time, even without any of this, just the competition itself demands incredible resilience, and my very first day competing I felt like I gingerly stepped out on the porch and just got immediately flattened by a speeding train!
Many of my preconceptions were proven hilariously wrong within the first hours and it was overwhelming, like taking a big punch early in a boxing fight. My assumption I would be able to multi-table to a high level because of my online poker experience was put the test immediately with a Bridge/ Catan combo, two games I had mastered some years ago but not played in a very long time and the lack of recent familiarity made it immensely difficult to context-switch for me. Bridge started well enough, 12 near flawlessly played boards in and on the 13th my partner doesn’t respect a penalty double I make, costing us a bottom score and in my tensed up state it put me on tilt- as expected this led to s few more more bottoms scores in sequence and losing contention for the final. The first 2 events had come and gone without a result for me and with only a few more games I was already proficient in remaining, the entire premise of competing for a title seemed well impossible at that moment. I had to mentally reset, manage the stress that caused the damaging emotional turbulence, and just push through accepting that I didn’t have the multitasking abilities I had in my 20s anymore- and that’s ok. While pure IQ does decline with age, intelligence can still overcome this through learned experience- I’ll take amazingly designed software running on decent hardware over the fastest machine running mediocre programs, any day.
Ultimately keeping a strong positive mindset and a physical resilience through the extreme sleep deprivation is training enough that makes normal life challenges feel like a breeze, and thats a win in many ways.
3. General thoughts on the Pentamind, and competitive games in general-
The MSO aims to be both a games “festival” as well as a top tier competition and the Pentamind as the crown jewel of the entire event is attempted to be used to promote both fronts. This makes perfect sense but also invariably causes an unavoidable tension between the two. For example as all events run in the festival are eligible for the Pentamind scores, “silly” fun festival ones like crosswords/ pub quizes/ speed reading/ dumb “iq” tests (sorry Mensa -you could have done better than that paper) does have a deterring effect on the side of the Pentamind equation that aims it to be a serious ultimate multidisciplinary gaming challenge. Scoring relative performances in events also certainly needs a rethink for a broader player field than the smaller live events run of course, and I’m sure many good ideas will be through around for this. Ultimately I think the fun festival side and the serious title side do need some ‘separation of powers’ and I will help think through how best to do this. That being said, somehow the overall results still were broadly reflective of the relative performances at the top if I were to rank them seperately from the score system used. Ankush I do think had it by a hair over my results largely due to his tremendous bridge victory which very well might have been the win of the whole MSO (he would say Andres’ Quoridor win but Id probably put that second). Apart from a fantastic competitor he is also a fantastic person and thats equally important in my eyes. Maciej and Andres had various shining moments and showed they were clearly the class of the field in abstract games, but probably needed to do a bit more in the final events as I’m sure they must feel also. And Joe, well Joe’s gonna Joe and he optimized for the specific system and formula with devastating efficiency, which can be argued is a mind sport itself (meta!)- While I agree it is true that if say he had won 1st it wouldnt feel quite right for the title as a reflection of pure gameplay ability, he did everyone a favor by stress-testing the system so effectively and finding its flaws, and he also showed good sportmanship in certain key spots so kudos for that also. We will certainly need him again to stress test the revised version!
The organizers really did an amazing job running this event online for the first time- given the limited resources on hand it was a masterful balancing act. At the same time, the online global format I think has clearly demonstrated how much latent interest there is in the world for all around games competitions- running an event with a much higher budget to be able to get more tournament organizers/managers, higher prize money for winners, and most importantly of all very high production quality media production of the competition would be amazing. Over the next period I will try along with Ankush and other motivated parties to see what can be achieved now in this direction for next year. Let me know if you are interested in being involved in this effort in some capacity, lots to figure out but we could make something really awesome happen if we do it right!
23 (Etan Ilfeld) - 5/9
The 24th Annual Mind Sports Olympiad (MSO) ended on Sunday 30 August after a month of hotly contested online competition ranging from Scrabble and Speed Reading to Chess and Catan. We had 100 events and 8 meta-events–where the scores of individual events were combined. 106 countries took part, and 56 countries won medals. We are delighted to welcome several countries that participated for the first time including Kyrgyzstan, Bolivia, Guatemala, Malawi, Moldova, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe.
I’d like to personally thank everyone that participated in this historic MSO. From the players and organizers to the hosting platforms and live-stream commentators–we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you so much for your support! Also, thank you to everyone who made a financial contribution to the Mind Sports Olympiad.
Although we were in uncharted territory, the MSO Organizing Committee was able to quickly adapt and produce a large-scale online event at short notice. A huge thank you to Mike Dixon who built our Discord server and ran all of our Eurogames and was the primary spokesman for the MSO on Discord. Also, a huge thank you to Julia Hayward who processed all of the results and maintained the integrity of our database so that everyone could see their live results. Due to the incredible volume of participants, Julia had a mountain of data to manage and did a phenomenal job.
There were a record number of 11,212 entries. However, as there were no entry fees, not everyone showed up to compete in each event. The more significant participation figure is the number of active entries which was 9,001–an all-time record. The total number of unique competitors was 5,884 which was also a new record for the MSO. Although most people competed in one or two events, it’s worth noting that 228 people played five events or more, and 102 played ten or more. In terms of eligible Pentamind scores where five different games needed to be used and a max of three Eurogames, there were 130 people who qualified.
The switch to a virtual event was not without challenges, with a small number of investigations into online cheating and four expulsions from the tournament. All in all, most competitors showed great sportsmanship, and the success of the 2020 Mind Sports Olympiad shows that meeting new people in friendly competition in person or online can help us stay connected to the wider world.
We’ll be sending a survey later this month to all the participants, and look forward to learning how to build upon this historic year.
Best wishes,
Etan Ilfeld
Mind Sports Olympiad CEO
24 (De Toffoli) - 7/9

There were 5.884 partecipants taking part into the online edition of the Mind Sports Olympiad 2020 with 10.000 subscriptions overall.
Many partecipated to one tournament only, but 228 people actually played 5 or more and 102 10 or more. 130 players entered the Pentamind ranking, the competition that actually represent the spirit of this unique event the most, an event I cannot miss for sure.
These the numbers, that came with a great improvement for the MSO, considering also that more than 100 nations partecipated.

So, from conditio sine qua non, the online things transformed into a great opportunity. And that should be taken into account for the future.

Italian partecipation also stepped up, mainly thanks to the tireless work by Leonardo Caviola, he did a great job! Thank you Leonardo. And I liked his statistics a lot (I love statistics!), I paste some of them here with his permission.
The italian loot has been quiet good, 5 golds, 8 silvers and 9 bronzes and clicking on the voice “Italian medals” higher on the list there are the winners (adding also those by Maurizio De Leo, who played for Singapore, but promised that next year he will be 100% italian!).

Here they are.
They are 95 our players. Many only one or two tournaments but 11 players played in 10/+ tournaments. The highest on the list a fearless Riccardo Gueci, who started slowly, but with nobody stepping on his way afterward: 33 partecipations put the distance from anybody else (I did 25 tournaments in 11 different disciplines), but he is still far from the 45 partecipations in 22 different disciplines by Ankush Khandelwal, protagonist of this edition and winner of the Pentamind. Here’s the chart.

Another chart by Caviola shows the ranking of the single games as if only Italians would partecipate: a funny idea to give the team idea.

Other two charts show what games the italians prefer and on top we find Can’t Stop, a gem by Sid Sackson, with 18 players out of 256 in total.
ok, that’s it… but Caviola did way more, that you can easily find through his pages.

And the next year? We will do even better, no doubt!