Mind Sports involve mentally challenging board and card games of skill and intellectual ability in strategy, tactics, calculation, game theory, psychology, probability, and memory. There are national and world championships in each category.
Mind Sports are becoming more popular among parents and educators for child development. A study by MIT has shown that mind sports, like chess, improve brain functioning, memory, complex reasoning, problem-solving, concentration, and neural plasticity.
In the U.S., popular competitive championship mind sports are played by millions and involve chess, contract bridge, checkers, backgammon, poker, and dominoes. A few additional popular mind and strategic games include Sequence, Scrabble, Monopoly, Risk, Hire, Asul, skat, tafl, soduko, cribbage, and others. Popular Asian mind sports include: Mo, mahjong, Xiangqi, Makruck, Shogi, and others.
Chess is one of the world’s most popular abstract strategy games. The game requires strategy and tactics. It is a board game played between two players on a checkered board with light and dark pieces. Players alternate turns to take opponent pieces off the board. The objective is to checkmate (block) the king with no way to move.
The World Chess Federation holds World Chess Championships. The 2023 Men’s World Champion is Ian Nepomniachtchi from Russia. The 2023 Women’s World Champion is Ju Wenjum from China.
Contract bridge is a trick-taking card game involves four players in two competing partnerships. The game requires skills in tactics, memory, and probability. The objective is to score the highest number of tricks taken. Players must play a card of the same suit of the led card. The highest card takes the trick.
The World Bridge Federation holds World Bridge Championships. The Bermuda Bowl for men’s national teams 2002 winners were: Switzerland-gold (1), Netherlands-silver (2), and U.S. and Norway sharing bronze (3). The Venice Bowl for women’s national teams 2022 winners were Sweden-Gold (1), Turkey-silver (2), and UK (Britain)-bronze (3).
Go is an abstract strategy board game similar to chess and very popular in Asia. The game is played by two players who move stones (pieces) to surround more territory than the opponent. The board is a 19×19 line grid with 361 points to place stone.
The International Go Federation holds World championship tournaments. Tang Weixing of China is the current world champion.
Checkers, also known as draughts, ia a strategy board game for two players which involves diagonal moves on an 8×8 checkered board. Players alternate moves and capture opponent pieces. The objective is to capture all the opponent’s pieces or prevent them from being able to move.
The World Checkers/Draughts Federation holds World Checkers Championships. Tournaments are held in two versions: 3-Move Checkers where payers begin three moves into the game; and GAYP (Go As You Please) where play begins on the first move.
Men’s 2022 winners were: GAYP – Matteo Bernini of Italy; 3-Move – Sergio Scarpetta of Italy. Women’s 2022 winners were: GAYP – Nadiya Chyzhevska of Ukraine; 3 -Move – Tetiana Zaitseva of Ukraine.
Backammon is board game involving strategy and luck It is played by two people. The players move pieces to the roll of the dice. The objective is to remove pieces by moving around the board.
World Champions in 2022 were: men’s Sander Lylloff of Denmark and women’s Analisa Agosti of Italy.
Mahjong is an abstract strategy tile-based game similar to rummy card games. It requires strategy, tactics, and luck. It is popular in Pacific Rim Asian countries and around the world.
Mahjong is played by four players who collect and discard tiles. To win a round, a player must have three faan (sets) points to lay down the hand. Other players must pay the winner for the round.
The World Mahjong Organization holds world championships. Current champions are: Gold- Zhou Yong from China, Silver- Sandra Berthommier from France, Bronze- Frederic Petit from France.
Poker is card game that requires strategy, psychology, probability, memory, and game theory. Players wager over the best hand, bluffing is part of the game. Poker variations include 5-card draw, 5-card stud, 7-card stud, and other variations. Players follow pre-determined amounts to ante up chips in the pot and bet on each hand. The best hand wins the pot.
The World Series of Poker determines the World Champion. The 2022 men’s winner was
Espen Jorstad of Norway and the women’s winner was Jessica Teusl of Austria.
Xianggi is an abstract strategy board game very popular in Pacific Rim Asia. The game is played by two players on a 9×10 grid board. The objective is to checkmate the opponent’s king.
The World Xiaggi Federation holds world competitions. The current men’s champion is Xu Chaou of China and the women’s champion is Jie Dan of the U.S.
Dominoes is a tile-based game using rectangular tiles with marked dots. The objective is to block opponents and to empty one’s hand.
Winners of the 2022 World Dominoes Championship were Ricky Rambo in Singles; and in Doubles, Lyndon Livingston and Dan Rambo.