The first Mind Sports Olympiad, which took place at the Royal Festival Hall during late August, was a very interesting and largely successful (no doubt the organisers would say hugely successful) experiment based on an idea of David Levy, International Master and well established Chess Correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph. Other directors included Ray Keene, Chess Correspndent for the Times, and Don Morris and Tony Buzan, who are associated with Mensa.

Somewhere in the region of 2000 entrants took part in the many and varied events on offer, and approximately half the comptitors were involved in the chess events. Indeed, the organisation of an even of this nature involves a ready-made infrastructure, and many of the team which had the previous week been organising the British Chess Championships in Hove simply moved venues and continued their tasks on the South Bank. To be fair, it is unlikely that any of the other activities taking place has a national infrastructure anything like so large as that of the British Chess Federation.

There were seven chess tournaments of varying time control taking place throughout the week. The most significant of these was the 15-round 5-day rapidplay event, which was won by GM Michael Adams, who led the event from start to finish. In one of the rounds he played his co-British Champion Matthew Sadler and some dubbed the game The Unofficial British Championships Decider. Although Matthew launched a very strong attack against Michael's castled king position, half-an-hour was inadequate for such a venture and he lost on time. In this section, the only Essex representation was from brothers Ezra and Josiah Lutton. Ezra shared the under-130 grading prize for his 6.5 points. In the 5 minute and 10 minute tournaments at the weekend, Stuart Conquest took the Gold Medal. There were some very good results for juniors in these sections. 15-year-old Tim Hebbes (Ilford) succeeded in holding Gm-elect Aaron Summerscale to a draw, and Rosalind Keiran (Bromley, aged 14) shared the point against GM Julian Hodgson.

The very last act in the World's Largest Chess Tournament was played out on the Saturday. The Dixons / Kasparov / Rotary Club event which began in January with about 22,000 competitors in some 800 schools throughout the country came to a head with the "Terafinal" and Challengers Tournament. The time control in these was 20 minutes for all moves. The sixteen players who had won their age section in Nottingham in July were all invited to the Terafinal, with guaranteed prize money of at least £50 each, this increasing for each round they won. The only Essex representative was Bobby Payne, and unfortunately Bobby did not have a good August. Indifferent results at the British Championship were followed by a loss to six-year-old David Howell (Sussex). Even though no less a person than BCF Squad Chief Coach Andrew Martin has expressed the opinion that David is "the new Fischer", I am quite sure that an in-form Bobby would have had no trouble in beating David nine times out of 10.

This knockout reached a climax as Richard Cleveland (Bishop Vaughan School, Wales) inflicted defeat on Nicholas Timms (Millfield School, Somerset) to win the £500 first prize, perhaps the biggest cash prize in British junior chess.

In the Challengers, which was initially contested by the runners-up from the Nottingham event, Essex players made up the largest contingent from any county. Lawrence Trent, Ezra Lutton, Ellen Walker, Stewart Trent and Heather Walker all played for much smaller prizes. and were joined by players beaten in the Terafinal. Lawrence finished on 6/8 to share 6th place, losing to David Hodge (the eventual winner) and Bobby, who missed the first two rounds because of his terafinal commitment, scored 3.5/6. Added to his 2 point bye for this gave him a total of 5.5/8 and a share of 8th place.

Many of the non-chess events involved individuals more famous for their association with chess. William Hartston, former British Champion and correpondent for the Independent, organised the Creative Thinking Championships; Bob Wade, without doubt the most venerable figure in British Chess, supervised the Chinese Chess competition; brothers Demis and George Hassabis, both very strong chess players, took medals in the rummikub competition, whatever that may be. Eric Schiller, a Californian best known for his contributition to chess software and the Internet Chess Club, was largely responsible for the World Computer Programming Championships, ably hindered by your correspondent. And of course the Olympiad Bulletin was produced by a very strong chess playing team of GM Jonathan Tisdall and IMs Byron Jacobs and Andrew Kinsman.

It was announced at the closing ceremony that London had already been selected as the venue for the Mind Sports Olympiad for 1998 and 1999, after which cities would be invited to tender for the right to host the event. One cannot expect organisers to get everything right first time, but one area which can be improved is the rostrum for the Medals Ceremonies. This rostrum was very adjacent to the chess-playing area, and at fairly frequent but unspecified times throughout, Aaron Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" was played in its entirety as an introduction to the presentation party. If the player whose turn it was to move simply waited for the end of the piece until making his move, he would be suffering an appalling time handicap.