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MSO International Oware Tournament
Olympia Exhibition Hall, 23rd - 29th August 1999
The Third International Oware Tournament Held as part of MSO 99 at the Olympia Exhibition Hall London

MSO 99 Oware Tournaments were characterised by the number of tournaments that took place four in all International (open to all), Beginners Tournament, an Under 18s’ and Under 11s’ Tournaments. As a consequence of this the Oware section of the Olympiad was always brisling with people. This year also saw a record number of people entering Oware tournaments 66 in all.

The Under 11’s tournament was dominated by the pupils from Belleville school, (The Storm Troopers) winners of the National Schools Tournament 1999. It took place on the 21st of August the first of the Oware tournaments. Gold medal was won by Fayleigh Cooper, Silver by Annabel Sobers and Bronze by Niah Garnette Lewis.

On the Second day was the turn of the Under 18's which featured all the medal winners from 98 and Mathieu Tironi 99 European competitor who came from France to compete. A round robin system was used (where everybody plays each other), as there were a manageable number of competitors.

For the second time Elison Davis (Grenada) won Gold, Silver went to Kyle Lemuel (Dominica). The contest for third position provided the most dramatics with a match between Wayne Bonti and Derek Brown that had to be extended to the next day. The match ended with 97/98 Bronze medal winner Wayne Bonti beating Derek brown thus securing the Bronze medal, for a third consecutive year.

On the 23rd was the turn of the Beginners tournament. In terms of numbers this was the biggest tournament of all. A total of 30 participants took place from 6 year-old children to old men and Women. Also participating were seasoned players from other games who were trying out Oware for the first time. This competition proved to be the most hilarious with adults storming of at their defeat by children.

A three round Swiss system was used dwindling down the competitors to the last sixteen. Now this is where it got really interesting with children mostly under 11's knocking out adults. In one case Rizby Mazumder beat Vojta Hrabal an adult from the Czech Republic. He wasn't too happy about that, as the game was about to end he dropped the seeds and walked of in resignation without even looking at his conqueror let alone congratulate him.

All except one adult was knocked out of the semi-final stage. The Bronze medal went to Trond Lemuel in a match against Tyrell Davis. Gold and Silver was decided in a match between a very tired Rizby Mazumder and Dario de Toffoli the only remaining adult from Italy. In the end the Old goat veteran of the previous two Mind Sports Olympiad at various other games beat poor Rizby 3 - 2 in a very dramatic game.

Unlike 1998 where the rest of the world was annihilated by the mighty Antigens through players such as Trevor Simon, Kambiue Charles, Pumkin Lewis a.k.a. (The Monk from the West) and Little John in the 1999 competition only Trevor Simon the current International champion made the trip from Antigua & Barbuda. Fate had secured that at least two medals would be for the rest of the world.

Before proceedings began the current International champion Trevor Simon placed a challenge that if any player was able to gain a game from him (not a match but a game) he would give that person 20.00. Whilst the beginners tournament was taking place the International tournament had already begun on the 23rd. There were 13 participants in all from all corners of the globe. It featured Antigua & Barbuda's National champion and last year’s Gold medallist Trevor Simon. Our resident Grandmaster from Ivory Coast Jonas Esse. From Ghana Bonsu Boaten 97 MSO Bronze medallist. European Bronze medallist Xavier Blanvillian from Belgium. MSO's Pentamind Champion Demis Hassabis UK, MSO's Decamathalon Champion Paul Smith, 2nd position 1997 UK championship David Kotin, Elison Davis (Grenada) double Gold medallist 98/99 and Wayne Bonti (Ghana) triple Bronze medallists 97/98/99 of the Under 18's tournament. Plus a host of other players from the UK, Ghana, Israel etc.

A one round, Round Robin was operated where every body plays each other in a best of five game match. This tournament was one of surprises and serious psychological manipulation. Some players came with the intention of winning Gold or at least a medal but were thoroughly disappointed and tried to use every trick to achieve their aim, but to no avail. At least one competitor tried coercion, but did not succeed. This player who is also a member of the Oware Society is yet to be disciplined.

Yet a again as with 97's tournament the time taken to complete games was much to long and David Kotin won the prize for this again. A two-minute time limit was imposed, but this shall be reduced drastically for next year’s tournament. Some players became agitated and distracted at this psychological tactic whether it was intentional or not. Due to this the tournament had to be extended by two days to finish on the last day of the Olympiad.

By Friday the Gold and Silver medal had already been decided. With Last years Gold medallist, Trevor Simon (Antigua & Barbuda) taking Gold again, making him an MSO Oware Grand Master. Silver, was won by, Jonas Esse (Ivory Coast). The Bronze medal position was hotly contested, as the first two positioned players were in a league of their own.

At the end of 5 days three people were in contention for this position. Paul Smith, who has one years knowledge of Oware. David Kotin our number 2 in the UK 98 and the surprise Demis Hassabis who only had 2 days practice at Oware (Demis by the way was the Junior Chess Champion at the age of 14). After a decider between Paul and Demis in which Demis won 3,2. David Kotin decided to forfeit his last two games to Paul and Demis, these could have propelled him to the Bronze position why he did so is still a mystery.

This year saw the emergence of Grandmasters from the Decamathalon and Pentamind fields take on Oware and in the process do quite well. But they have a long, long way to go before they can be considered as masters let alone Grandmasters of Oware.

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