Pentamind World Championship

The Pentamind World Championship was one of the Mind Sports Olympiad’s original events. It is a unique meta-event, which celebrates the best all round games player in the world. Any event at Mind Sports Olympiad can count towards that year’s Pentamind, and the player with the highest top five scores is crowned the Pentamind World Champion.

The Pentamind scores must use games from different categories (e.g. one chess variant, scrabble, go, poker and backgammon; however, a player cannot use two backgammon scores or two chess scores toward the Pentamind). The Pentamind champion is the player with the highest numerical score in “pentamind points” from 5 valid events.

Please note that a maximum of 3 Eurogames can be applied. In addition, two games of the same type cannot be used. For example, only one Backgammon or Chess event can be used. For example,the following events are the same type for this rule:

  • Go 19×19, Go 13×13, Go 9×9
  • Marathon Memory, Natural Memory, Speed Memory
  • Stratego Duel, Stratego Classic
  • Settlers of Catan, Cities and Knights
  • Dominion, Dominion (Expansions)
  • Cribbage Singles, Cribbage Doubles
  • Sudoku, Puzzles (Various)
  • All Chess events, including Chess 960, Chess Puzzles and Exchange Chess [Note: Xiangqi and Shogi are considered different to Chess for this rule]
  • All Backgammon events
  • All Poker events

The Pentamind Formula

In 2018, the formula was slightly adjusted.  Previously this was a factor of n/(n+1) however this has been changed to (n+5)/(n+6).  The full formula for 2018 is therefore as follows:

Event Score =  100 x ((n+5)/(n+6)) x ((n – p)/(n – 1))

where n is the number of players and p is the player’s finishing position before tiebreaks in the event.

*The 1.08 bonus factor was applied in Premier Events in previous years–but there is no such bonus for 2020. Similarly, there is no longer a two long session requirement for the 2020 Pentamind as most online events are quicker. Also, as 2020 is online, we are allowing players to compete in more than one event simultaneously.

In the event of a tie for the Pentamind World Championship, the next Pentamind score (i.e. the 6th best result) will be used as a tiebreak; the secondary tiebreak will be the 7th best Pentamind score; the third tiebreak will be use the 8th best scores. Meta event scores such as the Amateur Poker World Championship or Eurogames World Championship will not count towards a Pentamind World Championship score.

The following restrictions apply to the events used in a player’s Pentamind score:
All events used in a player’s score must be in different disciplines (using different ‘game codes’). Meta event scores such as the Amateur Poker World Championship or Eurogames World Championship will not count towards a Pentamind World Championship score.

If a player withdraws from an event without completing at least 50% of the rounds then their Pentamind score in that tournament is automatically included as one of the 5 in their final score. (This may be overturned at the discretion of the Tournament Arbiter of Head Arbiter).

List of Pentamind World Champions

  • 1997: Wales Kenneth J. Wilshire
  • 1998: England Demis Hassabis
  • 1999: England Demis Hassabis
  • 2000: England Demis Hassabis
  • 2001: England Demis Hassabis
  • 2002: Italy Dario De Toffoli
  • 2003: England Demis Hassabis
  • 2004: South Africa Alain S. Dekker
  • 2005: England Tim Hebbes
  • 2006: Czech Republic Jan Stastna
  • 2007: England David M. Pearce
  • 2008: England David M. Pearce
  • 2009: England Martyn Hamer
  • 2010: Spain Paco Garcia de la Banda
  • 2011: Estonia Andres Kuusk
  • 2012: Italy Dario De Toffoli
  • 2013: England Ankush Khandelwal & EstoniaAndres Kuusk
  • 2014: EstoniaAndres Kuusk
  • 2015: England James Heppell
  • 2016: EstoniaAndres Kuusk
  • 2017: England James Heppell
  • 2018: England Ankush Khandelwal
  • 2019: England Ankush Khandelwal

The Pentamind has been won five times by Demis Hassabis.
Demis Hassabis (born 27 July 1976) is a computer game designer, AI programmer, neuroscientist and world-class games player. A child prodigy in chess, he reached master standard at the age of 13 with an Elo rating of 2300 (at the time the second highest rated player in the world Under-14 after Judit Polgar who had a rating of 2335).Following his graduation Hassabis worked briefly as a Lead AI programmer on the Lionhead Studios title Black & White before founding Elixir Studios in 1998, a London-based independent games developer. He grew the company to 60 people, signing publishing deals with Vivendi Universal and Microsoft, and was the executive designer of the BAFTA-nominated Republic: The Revolution and Evil Genius games. Hassabis then left the games industry, switching to cognitive neuroscience, in order to get back to his lifelong passion of developing artificial intelligence technology. Working in the field of autobiographical memory and amnesia he has authored several highly-cited and influential papers, including his most prominent work to date, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in early 2007. Hassabis received his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from UCL in 2009 and is continuing his computational neuroscience and artificial intelligence research as a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the Gatsby Unit, UCL and in collaboration with groups at MIT and Harvard. Demis co-founded DeepMind, which was acquired in 2014 by Google where he is now Vice President of Engineering leading their general AI projects. DeepMind’s AI Go playing program, AlphaGo, defeated the Lee Sedol, one of the strongest Go players in the world, in March 2016 with a score of 4 out of 5.

Andres Kuusk won the Pentamind World Championship in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016. He is an Estonian data scientist, economist and board games player. Other notable mind sports achievements include national championship in bridge, draughts, five-in-a-row games, mind sports pentathlon (chess, draughts, bridge, gomoku and sudoku) and table games quadrathlon (chess, draughts, table tennis, and ovuss). Born in 1981 on the small island of Saaremaa, he moved to the mainland of Estonia for university and started a career as an economics scientist and mind sports player. He taught econometrics and game theory at the University of Tartu, and received his PhD in economics there in 2012. In 2015 he quit the academia and became a data scientist in Bondora AS, the P2P lending company. He is currently working mainly on the field of credit modeling. During his years in Tartu, he was actively involved in a wide variety of mind sports, studying games and competing semi-professionally.

Ankush Khandelwal has won the Pentamind World Championships three times: in 2013, 2018 and 2019. His first experience of strategy games came when he learnt to play Chess at school at 8 years old and he instantly fell in love with the game. He went on to win many national titles and represented the England junior team internationally on several occasions, and placed 2nd in the U12 European Chess Championships. He also represented the England junior Bridge team at U20 and U25 level. After obtaining his Masters degree in MMORSE (Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics, Economics) from the University of Warwick, Ankush strongly considered continuing academia to do a PhD in Game Theory, but ultimately decided that a career in trading would be too alluring to not experience. He briefly worked as a derivatives trader for a market maker in Amsterdam, but realised that he could better utilise his expertise in game theory by placing bets on cards than on financial markets and quit to pursue his dream of becoming a professional poker player. Ankush is now a high stakes online cash game professional specialising in his favourite format of Heads Up Pot-Limit Omaha. He aspires to be a top-class Bridge player and to represent his country at the Open team level, as of 2019 he won his first England cap winning the Camrose trophy. Ankush has developed his gaming repertoire in his bid to contest for the Pentamind adding many games including Agricola, Acquire and 7 Wonders to his arsenal. He also enjoys playing Badminton and Football recreationally and is an avid Fussball player.

James Heppell is a software engineer from the UK who has won the Pentamind world championship twice (2015 and 2017), obtaining his 100th overall medal in 2017. Born in 1988 he started playing chess at 4 years old and quickly advanced to become the UK U12 Chess Captain, taking him around the world competing internationally. Deciding to focus on his education he went onto obtaining a first-class Mathematics degree and a PhD in Complex Systems Simulation at the University of Southampton. Moving on from his academic life in 2016, he has now begun a career as a software engineer for a pharmaceutical company. James is also a competitive badminton player and has set up a bi-weekly games club, attracting a variety of players to try out new board games.

Dario De Toffoli won the Pentamind World Championship in both 2002 and 2012.
Dario De Toffoli is an Italian board game designer, gamebook author and elite games player who founded the games company Studiogiochi and established many games events. Born in 1953 Venice, after an early career as a Chemist he entered the world of games. Winner of over 60 medals at the Mind Sports Olympiad. He won the 2002 and 2012 Pentamind Competition. In 2006, he won a special award for his contribution to games which includes contribution to all aspects of games.Dario was one of the top players in scrabble in Italian. The world championship in Italian scrabble was not founded until 2008 before that there were Majors. Dario had multiple top 3 finishes in these competitions and won the Masters in 1997.Dario De Toffoli is the foremost expert in backgammon in Italy. He wrote two of the key books on backgammon in Italian: “the rules of the game” and “the big book of backgammon” In the latter, he is credited with bringing to light that the origins of backgammon went back 500 years further than had previously been reported. As well as owning the company Studiogiochi, Dario has personally designed and co-designed several board games. The most notable of which are Lex Arcana and Vampiri in salsa rossa role-playing based games. More recent games have had a more mainstream focus such as Sudoku and Kakuro board games and themed board games such as for the Totally Spies! cartoon series.

David Pearceis one of the most successful games all-rounders of all time having spent more than a decade at the top of medal league table. He has won over 30 world championships in Mind sports from more than a dozen different games. Upon winning the Pentamind twice back-to-back in 2007 and 2008 he became only the second person to successfully defend the Pentamind title after Demis Hassabis. In 2010 David became the first ever player to win a 100 medals at the Mind Sports Olympiad and in 2019 became the first person to win 50 gold medals. While other players have shown greater success in individual events, David has the largest number of different events in which he has won medals. In 2009, he set a new record for the most medals in a single MSO with 22 medals (6 Gold, 6 Silver, 10 Bronze). When he obtained his 10th MSO International Grandmaster title, he arguably even fulfilled (the very short-lived idea) posited by one of the MSO’s founders Raymond Keene in the Times in 1997 of the “ultimate accolade in games” of “Grandmaster Decamentathlete”. David is currently working as a senior data scientist for an AI enterprise company (Chatterbox Labs) where he is a key influence for their Natural Langauge Understanding and Generation. He has a keen interest in a variety of science areas both academically and professionally. He was not prevented by his dyslexia from achieving a degree in Engineering Science from Worcester College, Oxford before later in life returning to academia to an MSc and a PhD in AI.