Monday, August 01, 2005


The Mind Sports Olympiad is a big annual event involving competitions in dozens of different mental games and skills, and I've been to all the previous eight of them since it started in 1997. When I was twenty years old, living in a rented room above a family home, had just grown an unflattering moustache and hadn't ever used the internet. So it's a pretty big part of my life, all things considered - it's where I discovered memory competitions and othello. Which is why I sing the praises of the MSO to anyone I think might be remotely interested, every chance I get.

So why am I thinking about not going this year? Various reasons, really. It's expensive, for one. In fact, the cost probably hasn't gone up too much since last year, but you have to pay for the week's entry fees and accommodation all in one, and when I see £460 in black and white I wonder what kind of value for money I'm going to get. I'm thinking that a lot of people are going to be put off by this - it discourages people who come to just play in one event, because nobody's going to spend £50 for a two-day othello competition, for example. So I suspect attendance will be lower than usual, limited to those of us who just come along and play everything.

Also, there's no memory competition. That's been the main reason I've gone to the MSO for the last four or five years, and before that my main reason was the world intelligence championship (also no longer in existence due to terminal lack of interest). All the other competitions I've entered at the MSO over the years have been sideshows to one or the other 'main event'. This year, it would be all sideshows and nothing else, and somehow that doesn't appeal to me so much.

I think I might just give it a miss, to be honest. I could spend the week off compiling a CV and signing up with job agencies, and maybe go to Paris for the EGP othello at the weekend.

Of course, when I take time off work to do something practical, I generally end up sitting around watching cartoons all day, like I have done today. So much for memory practice...

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