It has become something of a tradition every autumn for game lovers in Prague to match wits in at the annual Mind Sports Olympiad. The event, which draws hundreds of players, is held at Tyrsuv Dum, a stately palace in the city's Mala Strana (Lesser Quarter). This year visitors will even have the chance to try a number of new Czech releases.
The hubbub of players filled Prague's Tyrsuv Dum on Sunday: in the assembly hall children, young adults and older players meet to match wits in everything from classical games like chess and checkers to more recent titles. The Olympiad features both open play as well as tournament competition in everything from Othello to Settlers of Catan. Jakub Tesinsky, one of the Olympiad's long-time organisers, explains the fun and benefits of mind sports:
"I think that there are many important aspects to games but basically they can be a 'test' for life. You can test many characteristics: you can test your patience, for example, how people 'bluff' and so on. And of course the advantage is that it's within the scope of 'a game'. They can also teach a certain type of thinking: many people don't like mathematics but in games find a basic logic that can be applied in the workplace. You gain a new point of view on life."
Some of the players present at the Olympiad at the weekend agreed there was no other place they'd rather be:
Young Man: "I've come every year since 2001. In the Czech Republic it's the most important game event, I think."
Visitors this year can also learn more about unusual new Czech titles on the market. Last year the civic association known as Czech Board Games scored an unexpected success with a historically-themed prototype known as Through the Ages: A Story of Civilisation. It was awarded a prestigious international prize (IGA) last week. The association hopes to follow up with new titles this year, including the curiously-named Laborigines. Jakub Tesinsky again:
"The name comes from the words 'lab' and 'aborigines' and it's about mysterious creatures emerging from a laboratory as a side-effect of some experiment. They are unhappy because the lab is full of traps and so and they want to survive and live their lives! What I like about this game is that it features many different original mechanisms and you can really think about your moves. I really like it."
Czech Games Edition, a brand-new Czech company also founded at least in part on last year's success has also produced titles which can played at the Olympiad, including Galaxy Trucker in which players have to build the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy - from junk. Really! It and games like Laborigines seem promising and delightfully quirky and most observers agree we can expect more in the future from talented Czech designers.
You can find more information about the 7th annual Mind Sports Olympiad at
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