Tournament of the Minds

A highly competitive tournament tested the wits and smarts of 15 teams

The winning team members from Hong Kong.

The Tournament of the Minds was held at the 2019 World Congress of Neurology (WCN) in Dubai and was an outstanding success. Fifteen teams participated in the initial round, which was a record. It was particularly pleasing to see teams from several countries that had not previously participated in the event. The teams participating were from Australia and New Zealand, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Moldova, Sri Lanka, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

The runner-up team from Sri Lanka.

The initial elimination round was an exciting affair with 20 multiple choice questions being asked of the teams. The room was full, and audience participation was possible through a voting app. For every question, the audience’s opinion about the answer could be displayed. Many of the questions were challenging, and at the end of this session, the two leading teams were Iran and India. Other teams to qualify for the semi-final round were Australia and New Zealand, Brazil, Hong Kong, Kenya, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka.

The questions which had largely been provided by Faouzi Belahsen and his team from Morocco were entertaining but also highly educational. Several had a local and regional quality to them.

Judges at the Tournament of the Minds Final. From left to right: Profs. Faouzi Belahsen, Nick Davies, and Richard Stark.

Two concurrent semi-final sessions were run. These required a somewhat different strategy as questions were presented often with information unfolding gradually. The first team to answer correctly scored the points. Points were deducted for teams providing a wrong answer, and of course, premature attempts to answer before all of the information was available ran a significant risk of providing the wrong answer. A number of the teams adapted their strategy well to this different task, and two teams from each semi-final proceeded to the grand final. These teams were India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka.
The final was the most exciting and the closest contest that has ever occurred in the Tournament of Minds. With 10 points being awarded for a correct answer and 10 points deducted for a wrong answer, the final scores after 20 questions were:

Final Round Score

Hong Kong 50 points
Malaysia 40 points
India 40 points
Sri Lanka 40 points

A tiebreak question resulted in Sri Lanka being declared the runner-up.

The members of the successful Hong Kong team were Drs. Wing Chi Fong, Ping Wing NG, Yuen Ni Annie Mew, and Lung Tat Andrew Chan. They were awarded the cup and medals, and we congratulate them.

All team members from the Tournament of the Minds finals.

The Tournament of the Minds requires considerable effort and input from many sources. The preparation of the questions requires a lot of work, both in sourcing the questions in the first place and also in revising the wording so that the disadvantage some teams have of not having English as their first language is minimized. I would like to thank the members of the Tournament of Minds Committee who contributed to this process and to chairing the sessions: Nick Davies, Faouzi Belahsen, Serenella Servidei, and Takashi Kanda. The presentation of the tournament is demanding with regard to audio-visual assistance and the support provided by the audio-visual team and Kenes was outstanding.

Finally, there is no doubt that the success of the tournament on this occasion was largely responsible to the generosity of the congress committee in allowing tournament participants refunds on registration costs.

The tournament has certainly become a popular component of the World Congress, and we look forward to a successful tournament in Rome in 2021. •