The 2008 World Mind Sport Games included five games, four of which are the flagship games of the International Mind Sports Association. Unlike other sports competitions, these participants do not have to worry as much about serious physical injuries occurring. On the other hand, one can never assume that because these are sports of the mind, that something physical couldn’t happen. Just this past year a previous US winner of the Mind Sport Games was injured and chose to file for social security disability. Even though this person is a brilliant Go player he ended up searching online to find a lawyer specializing in social security disability who could guide him through the labyrinth that is the social security disability process. It was such a relief to finally have someone who was familiar with the Social Security benefits process. The lawyer worked with this Go master guiding him through a Reconsideration when the initial application was denied. An administrative hearing followed and with the help of the social security disability lawyer, the Go master won his case and was able to receive benefits. Obviously if the Go master was not an American citizen he would not have been able to apply for social security disability in the first place. This master will not be participating in this year’s game, but plans to challenge at Go in the following years to come.
Bridge – a single-deck card game between two teams of two players each. Each card is dealt (i.e., each player begins with 13 cards), and each team tries to win ‘tricks’ (a round consisting of one card from each player, with the highest card winning). International competition is overseen by the World Bridge Foundation, and tournament play often dictates that multiple tables play the same hand.
Chess – well-known it may be, but nothing can be assumed. Chess is a board game between two players, each controlling sixteen pieces that have specific patterns of movement. The goal is to maneuver your opponent into a position where there are no viable moves left (“checkmate”). The Chess Olympiad is held every two years, organized by the FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs, or World Chess Federation).
Draughts – technically an entire category of games which includes the popular subcategory of “checkers”, the World Mind Sports Games featured five separate draughts divisions (international men’s, international women’s, Russian women’s, Brazillian men’s, and mixed checkers). International draughts specifically refers to a two-player game played on a 10×10 board, and is overseen by the FMJD (World Draughts Federation).
Go – one of the world’s oldest surviving games, Go is a two-player game played on a 19×19 grid with the pieces (black and white stones) placed at the intersections of the lines rather than inside the squares. The goal is to control the larger portion of the board by placing one’s own stones and/or capturing the opponent’s stones.
Additionally, the 2008 World Mind Sports Games included Xiangqi, a centuries-old game known more commonly as “Chinese Chess”. Originating in China (where it ranks among the most popular board games), Xiangqi was a natural inclusion in the Beijing locale of the 2008 Summer Olympic season. A preview demonstration game of Xiangqi was seen at the “IMSA Cup”, held several months before the WMSG event.
Unsurprisingly, the Chinese team dominated the competition, but the popularity of the game is by no means restricted to China, or even to Asia; the UK and Australia, for example, have world-class Xiangqi associations.
Without downplaying the unique qualities of the game itself, it will be interesting to see if Xiangqi is represented in the 2012 games as well — or if we will see another game more appealing to the specific hosting nation.
**Update** Xiangqi was included in the 2012 games in Lille, France. No additional game was included due to it’s appeal with the local population. It appear Xiangqi will be a regular addition to the associations list of Games.
No matter what games you are playing, have a blst.