If someone asked you to describe a sport, what would come to mind? Running? Jumping? Perhaps even a little blood, sweat or tears? If that’s your answer, you’re not unlike most people out there.
Not every competitive person has the physical prowess to excel in the conventional sporting arena. Alternative sports offer a more exciting alternative to the mainstream sports out there, but what of those who prefer to exercise their minds?
The object of mind sports is to test your brain strength rather than your physical strength. 1997 saw the inception of the term “Mind Sports Olympiad”, which is, in essence, Olympics for the mind. The Mind Sports Olympiad has been held annually ever since.
Let’s take a look at a few of the games that make up mind sports.
Chess is a board game for two players that requires strategic thinking and skill to gain victory over your opponent. Players move their playing pieces over a chequered board. Each piece can only move according to a precise set of rules. The winner is the player who manages to place their opponent’s king under an inescapable attack – check-mate.
It requires intense concentration; these battles can often last for hours with no time away from the board. Learning Chess is now easier than ever, with many free downloadable apps and online options available where you can pit your wits against the computer first.
Poker is a card game that uses all of your mental skills. It combines memory, strategy and gambling. The winner is determined by the combination of the cards in their hand. The strongest card combination wins.
There are a few variations of the game, which vary in the number of cards shared, the number of cards that are dealt, the number of cards remaining hidden, and the procedure for betting. Texas Hold’em has gained the most popularity out of all the variations.
As with Chess, you can learn electronically first by downloading an app or even participate in a few poker games online before working up the courage to play in person at a casino.
This game has been around in one form or another for many years; in fact, the oldest versions may have started as early as 3000BC.
Backgammon is a game of strategy and skill, combined with a little bit of luck. The game is played on a board with 24 narrow triangles of alternating colours called points. A roll of the dice determines the options you have to move. To win, you need to get all 15 of your pieces off the board before your opponent has the chance to do the same.
Many parts of the world have Backgammon clubs that organise competitions for players of all levels of experience. For those who are very competitive, there are tournaments at the national and international levels available. Get yourself started with an online tutorial, and you could be on your way to international Backgammon stardom.
If traditional sports aren’t your thing, you may find that mind sports are an excellent alternative. While staying fit is essential, and some form of physical exercise is recommended, honing your memory and strategic skills can be just as important and may even translate into valuable business and life skills as well.