A Battle of Wits at the 11th Hwa Chong Mindsports Championship

As the academic year comes to an end, here’s a timely reminder that aside from academics, there are other enjoyable ways to give our mind a stretch too – such as mindsports. Using your brain can lead to prizes, good fun, and friendships.

A flagship event organised annually by the Hwa Chong Mindsports Club, this year’s 11th Hwa Chong Mindsports Championship saw more than 200 participants from almost 30 different schools and institutions coming together for a battle of wits and strategy on 22nd April. The competition, known informally as the Hwa Chong Cup, hosted five different games – Contract Bridge, Chinese Chess, International Chess, Othello and Weiqi – and had a mix of team and individual elements. Games like International Chess were held in both the team-based Rapids and individual-based Blitz formats.

Participants of the International Chess Blitz.
Photo Credit: Hwa Chong Mindsports Club

Planning for the event had started from the 2016 December holidays by the Organising Committee, which was led by Jerome Ong (16A15), Jenna Tan (16A14) and Calvin Chen (16S63), the Club’s 2016/2017 President and Vice-Presidents respectively. They were supported by Organizing Committee members Spencer Lim (16A10), Foo Zhi Yu (16S60), Lee Cheok Feng (16S61), Shawn Tan (16S6Q), Denise Lai (16S76) and Tan Bao Jun (16S7A).

The standard of competition at the Cup grows higher every year, and 2017 was no exception. International Chess Rapids for instance had eighteen outstanding teams battling for the title, while International Chess Blitz pitted forty top individuals from ten schools against one another. Othello and Chinese Chess both witnessed dramatic battles on the boards between traditional powerhouses. A different kind of battle unfolded in Weiqi, which hosted a significant number of primary school students. These young warriors bravely took on secondary school and junior college opponents many years older than them – and more often than not emerged victorious, to the cheers of their supporters and the groans of their older opponents.

Beyond the traditional competition formats, this year’s Hwa Chong Cup introduced original features such as the Novelty Games room as well as the Challenge Arena for Chinese Chess. These features were conceptualized with the aim of creating a platform that promoted bonding among participants, regardless of the game they played. In the Novelty Games room, club members designed and constructed different games from various recycled materials, such as Chemistry laboratory bottle caps, old wooden boards and discarded cardboard. Games featured included Scrabble, Othello (with hexagonal boards instead of the usual eight-by-eight square board) and Chinese Chess (with the usual 楚河汉界 boundary replaced with Hwa Chong’s 饮水思源 !), attracting many participants.

The Scrabble set created from recycled materials.
Photo Credit: Hwa Chong Mindsports Club

The Challenge Arena, meanwhile, was a knockout tournament for Chinese Chess participants. The tournament consisted of four stages, each stage having its own “defenders” whom the participants would challenge. Upon defeating each stage’s defenders, participants could move onto the next stage. Our defenders were Hwa Chong Chinese Chess players from the College and High School sections. Prizes in the form of Popular bookstore vouchers awaited participants if they made it past the second stage.

The audience buzzed with palpable anticipation and excitement when one participant fought all the way to the final stage – or the ‘boss battle’. He faced the Club’s 2016/2017 Chinese Chess Captain, Shawn Tan (16S6Q). After drawing two consecutive games, the challenger emerged victorious, earning the Challenge Arena title and the top prize. It was most heartening to see the spirit of this friendly competition attract even the attention of non-Chinese Chess competitors, who formed a crowd to support their schoolmates.

The Challenge Arena’s “boss battle.”
Photo Credit: Hwa Chong Mindsports Club

At the prize presentation ceremony, Dr. Melvyn Lim (Deputy Principal / Student Development) commended the impressive standard of competition and the number of enthusiasts this event brought together.

The 11th Hwa Chong Mindsports Championship was an enriching experience for both the participants and organisers. The Club would like to thank Dr. Lim, their teachers Mr. Colin Loy (Education Consultation / Chemistry) and Mr. Tan Oon How, and the school for their encouragement and support, as well as the Club’s members, the arbiters and the Championship’s Organizing Committee for their hard work. We wish the Mindsports Club all the very best as they bring this event to greater heights!

Dr. Melvyn Lim (Deputy Principal / Student Development) (in blue) with the 2016/2017 Mindsports Club ExCo and teachers Mr. Colin Loy (Education Consultant / Chemistry) (second from right) and Mr. Tan Oon How (extreme left).
Photo Credit: Hwa Chong Mindsports Club

Written by Calvin Chen (16S63)

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