Brain trumps brawn every time at the annual Mind Sports Olympiad, which kicks off in Hampstead this week. The contests of mental agility include more than 60 board games plus exercises in creative thinking and computer programming. And they’re open to all. Fancy your chances? Organiser Etan Jonathan Ilfeld has come up with a quick mental workout to tackle on your commute.
1. What two states in the USA contain the entire name of another state?
2. Imagine you are in a room. It has no doors or windows. How do you get out?
Light relief: Q What is a physicist’s favourite food? A Fission chips.
3. A sheikh tells his two sons to race their camels to a distant city to decide who will inherit his fortune. The one whose camel is slower will be the winner. After wandering aimlessly for days, the brothers ask a wise man for guidance. Upon receiving his advice, they jump on the camels and race to the city as fast as they can. What did the wise man say?
4. Some people believe that January 1 2000 is the first day of the twenty-first century. Other people think that honour belongs to January 1 2001. But everyone should agree January 1 2002 is the first ‘sum-day’ of the new century: when you write out that date in standard notation, it becomes 01/01/02, and 1+1=2. More generally, a sum-day is a date in which the day and month add up to the year. With that in mind, can you answer the following? a) What is the last sum-day of the twenty-first century? b) How many sum-days are there in the twenty-first century?
Light relief: There are ten kinds of people in this world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.
5. Below are pairs of words. Your goal is to find a third word that is associated with both words. For example, ‘piano’ and ‘lock’ connect with ‘key’.
Light relief:Q What did zero say to the number 8? A Nice belt!
6. In an alien land, it was known that if you drank poison, the only way to save yourself was to drink a stronger poison, which neutralised the weaker poison. The king wanted to make sure he possessed the strongest poison. So he summoned his wizard and his magician, and gave each a week to concoct the strongest poison. Each would drink the other’s poison first, then his own, and the one who survived would be the victor. The wizard went confidently to work. The magician knew the wizard was much more experienced in this field. But he came up with a strategy, and when the time came, both drank the poisons as planned. The wizard died and the magician survived. How did the magician defeat the wizard?
7. Johnny’s mother had three children. The first was named April. The second was named May. What was the third child’s name?
Light relief: This girl said she recognised me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.
8. What word is a palindrome when viewed upside down and backwards?
The Mind Sports Olympiad takes place Sunday August 17 August 25, JW3, 341-351 Finchley Rd, NW3 6ET. All-You-Can-Play tickets £120 or register for individual events, some of which are free, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Arkansas contains Kansas; West Virginia contains Virginia. 2 Stop imagining. 3 He told them to switch camels. 4a December 31 2043 because 12+31=43, and both the month and day are as big as possible. 4b This one is much easier than you might think. The correct answer is 365, because every day in a standard (non-leap) year is part of a sum-day for some year. For example, November 26 is a sum-day for the year 2037, because 11+26=37. The only date for which this principle doesn’t work is the leap day, February 29. That’s because 2+29=31, but 2031 is not a leap year. 5 Playing card – ship: deck. Tennis – noise: racket. School – eye: pupil. River – money: bank (flow is also possible). 6 The magician knew that he could not make a stronger poison so he drank a weaker poison before their duel, and brought a vial of water to the contest. Thus the wizard’s poison served as an antidote. Meanwhile, the wizard, who only drank one poison – his own – perished. 7 Johnny. 8 SWIMS
Continue to train that brain by playing Can you spot the London location?