Pentamind: The Ultimate Mind Sport Championship
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Just as elite sportsmen yearn for Olympic gold, a special breed of mental athlete is obsessed by one all-consuming desire – to become the Pentamind World Champion.
The Mind Sports Olympiad (MSO) was launched to great fanfare in 1997. An ambitious undertaking, its aim was to showcase the largely ignored world of mental sports, and grow the event to eventually rival the physical Olympics.
The eight day event, combines seventy tournaments across fifty disciplines from Chess, Poker and Backgammon, to family favourites like Scrabble and Monopoly, and lesser- known gems like ‘Entropy’, based on the eternal conflict between order and chaos, and ‘Catan’, a resource-based strategy game inspired by the 10th century settlement of Iceland.
Many of the athletes are ‘specialists’ who compete in single events, but the MSO’s flagship prize, the Pentamind, is awarded to the best all-round player, the competitor with the highest combined score across five different disciplines.
Today, The Mind Sports Olympiad no longer boasts the giant venues and eye-watering prize money of its early days, but its ambitions remain the same. And with a Pentamind winners’ roster that includes brainiacs like Deepmind founder, Demis Hassabis, a pioneer in the field of AI, it still carries undeniable prestige.
Every year hundreds of boffins, big, small, male and female descend on London to compete for the Pentamind. These Olympians are some of the world’s finest strategic thinkers, athletes who’ve put in the hard hours, exercising their minds until every sinew and synapse can be marshalled into excelling at any game. But who are they, what makes them tick, and how are they similar or different to their sporting counterparts?
Pentamind follows five of the most decorated mind sports all-rounders to this year’s Olympiad. In a nail-biting story of quirky but cut-throat competition, it tells the tale of this fiendish contest, while exploring the heady world of competitive board gaming, and the spell it casts over those who compete for love and glory.