Rules of Competition

The following rules of competition apply to all tournaments or events operated by the Mind Sports Olympiad, whether played online or in person.  Additional tournament specific rules may be provided on the tournament listing or presented by the arbiter before or during the tournament.

1. General Conduct

1.1  All competitors, spectators and staff must adhere to the Mind Sports Olympiad Code of Conduct and Anti-Harrassment Policy at all times. Respect the organisers at all times.
1.2  The language of the MSO is English other languages must not be spoken whilst playing in a game. Please bear in mind that for many of our competitors English is a second language and care should be taken to speak using vocabulary that is understandable to all players at the table.
1.3  Spectators are always welcome but are reminded not to discuss a game in progress whilst within earshot of the players. Care should be taken so as not to cause any distraction to the players of the game. Spectators should not interfere directly with a game, even if they see what appears to be an illegal play or an incident of cheating, as they may be unaware of a specific situation. In serious instances they are encouraged to find the arbiter and highlight there concerns but should still refrain from interfering with the game (the arbiter will address the matter as they deem appropriate).

2. Tournament Conduct

2.1  Players are expected to maintain a high level of fairness and ethics and to behave appropriately towards other competitors and observers. This includes completing all games in a reasonable manner and not conceding a game to another player (kingmaking) unless resigning a genuinely lost position. In multi-player games players must play the best move for their own game. It is forbidden to kingmake even when the player would benefit from finishing 2nd in the game. Kingmaking is defined to be a player intentionally making a move that does not benefit themselves and serves only to advantage another. Any action which is considered to be against the spirit of the rules or the spirit of fair competition shall be deemed illegal and penalised appropriately, even if that action is not listed as illegal within the published rules. If you are unsure if an action you want to make is legal you should check with the tournament arbiter.
2.2  Cheating on any level will not be tolerated and ignorance of the rules is no defence. If you make a genuine mistake you should highlight it as soon as you become aware. The tournament arbiter will determine how mistakes should be corrected if they are not resolved immediately.
2.3  Players cannot receive outside assistance during a game (unless required due to a disability, which must be agreed with the MSO in advance).  Examples include: mobile phone use, discussing strategy/tactics with another person and for online competition includes any unsanctioned software/technology designed to help the player.  Unless otherwise specified the use of pen and paper is also forbidden.
2.4  During multi-player games the default rule on table talk is that players cannot suggest moves or give advice to an opponent that may influence their choice of move. Each player should be making their own decisions as to the best move for their interests. For some tournaments this move is altered where an element of bartering/diplomacy is expected.
2.5  Players should never leave a game in progress until it has finished, unless resigning a genuinely lost position. Note that some games (usually ones involving 3 or more players) do not allow for resigning in which case players must play the game to it’s conclusion at the best of their ability.

3. Tournament Administration

3.1  Each tournament will be assigned a Tournament Arbiter.  He/she will be responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the tournament and for addressing all queries and disputes brought to their attention during the tournament.
3.2  Tournament rules and timings listed on an event page are not binding. Any amendments (for practical reasons, due to numbers of entrants or unforeseen circumstances, or to correct any errors) will be formally announced by the Tournament Arbiter at the earliest appropriate opportunity. Any rules presented in the room on the day, either verbally or visually, will supersede the online rules. The published finish time should be treated as an estimation only.
3.3  In exam based events, players will usually not be allowed to review their paper after marking, however the solutions will be made public upon completion of the paper, and players will have 24 hours to raise any issues.

4. Dispute Resolution

4.1  Players are encouraged to check with the arbiter if they think something is not right, the arbiter is there to help.
4.2  Any disputes during the tournament (including during a game) should be brought to the attention of the Tournament Arbiter at the earliest opportunity. The arbiter will listen to what has happened and make their decision once they have been presented with all of the facts.
4.3  Should a player not agree with a tournament arbiter’s ruling then they can appeal to the Head Arbiter (or appropriate senior figure if the Head Arbiter is the Tournament Arbiter). The Head Arbiter’s decision is final. If the Head Arbiter deems it appropriate he may refer the matter to the MSO Committee for a consensus opinion, who’s decision will likewise be final.

5. Penalties

5.1  The possible penalties for breach of rules includes (but is not limited to)

  • Formal warning
  • Points/position penalty in the game in question (eg docked 10 victory points, or dropped by one finishing position).
  • Automatic loss of game.
  • Disqualification from tournament.
  • Disqualification from meta-events (eg the Pentamind)
  • Ban from further MSO competitions.

5.2  Where a disqualification from the tournament penalty (or more severe) is considered, the tournament arbiter should notify a senior organiser so that the penalty can be reviewed before it is applied.
5.3  Should a player be judged to have gained an advantage by breaching a rule even after the penalty has been applied, further penalties shall be applied to ensure that no advantage is gained. It will never be beneficial for a player to break the rules.

6. Online Competition

The following section is only relevant for tournament which take place online as such events bring with them additional complications.

6.1  Online tournaments are reliant upon computer software and 3rd party applications in order to function. If errors (bugs or glitches) occur we will endeavour to mitigate the impact, however, this is not always possible to do. Players taking part in online competition must accept that a bug or glitch might occur which could affect their chances, be that positively or negatively. The same extends to internet connection issues and mis-clicks.
6.2  Players taking part in an online tournament are expected to be present throughout the tournament, apart from during breaks which the arbiter has advised players that they may take.
6.3  Simultaneous play is permitted for players who wish to play in more than one tournament at once.  However you must be confident that you can handle the extra work of playing in both tournaments in order to do so.  Activities in another tournament will not be accepted as an excuse for lateness or exceeding time allowance in a tournament.  Please also bear in mind the Grand Prix rules with regards to scoring for simultaneous play.
6.4  For BoardGameArena automated tournaments please also see our BGA tournaments page which contains important rules and information specific to these tournaments.

Tie-Breaking Procedures

A tie-break is a situation where two or more players (pairs or teams) have the same score and are in a position to win a medal or advance to the next stage of a tournament.  The tiebreak is used to determine the order of ranking for the players involved, however meta-event points will always be shared equally among tied players.

Some tournaments have their own dedicated tiebreaks detailed within the tournament information which will be applied.  If not specified otherwise, the MSO standard tiebreaks outlined below will be applied.

Perfect Scores Policy
If there are 2 or more players on a perfect tournament score after the published number of rounds are played then the players involved should play additional rounds until no more than 1 player remains on a perfect score.  These games are considered additional rounds to the tournament, will score tournament points and will affect meta-event scores at the end of the event.

  • If players are tied but not on perfect scores then the usual tie-breaks procedure will be followed instead
  • A perfect score is defined to be the maximum score that the player could have achieved.  In some online tournaments (eg BGA multiplayer) it is possible for a player to be awarded less than the maximum score if a game cannot be played due to missing opponents.  This player shall be deemed to have a perfect score for the purpose of triggering this rule.
  • In multiplayer tournaments any additional round(s) will be played with a number of players at the table that was allowed during the main tournament.  This may require the next best ranked player to be involved in the additional round even if that player does not have a perfect score (for example, in a tournament where games must be played 3 or 4 player but only 2 players have perfect scores, a 3rd player will be invited to also play the additional round).  All players involved in an additional round can improve their tournament score and all are eligible to potentially win the tournament.

Please select below between Live (In Person) competitions or Online.

The below rules apply only to Live (In Person) Mind Sports Olympiad competitions

The rules below will be applied for 2-player games unless communicated otherwise:
1. Buchholz: Sum of opponent’s scores discarding the two lowest opposition scores.
2. Buchholz: This is the sum of opponents’ scores without ignoring any opponents.
3. Progressive: Calculated by adding points from a progress table eg if your scores were: Win, Loss, Win, Draw then your progressive scores are 1, 1, 2, 2.5 and your Progress tie-break value is 6.5

The rules below will be applied for multiplayer games unless communicated otherwise:
1. The board played on in the final round (i.e. A player from the top board is placed ahead of anyone on a lower board, if they have the same tournament points)
2. Result in the final round
3. Percentage of best opponents score*
4. Most games won
5. Buchholz (removing bottom 2 opponents)
Should a tie still remain Buchholz is continually applied next as “removing bottom 3 opponents”, then “removing 4”, “removing 5” and so on until the tie is broken. Finally “remove 1” then “remove 0” are used only if necessary.

*Percentage of best opponents score is calculated by dividing the players game score by the game score of their strongest opponent in the game (ie the winners score, or if the player in question won the score of the player finishing second). This tiebreak is capped at 110% per game.  The percentage of best opponents score is averaged over all rounds completed so far to calculate the players tiebreak.

Clarifications applicable to both two player and multi-player games:
1. In a multi-way tie-break, should any step succeed in separating the tied players into two or more subsets then players are ranked in that order.  Should any of those subsets still contain two or more players this is treated as a new tie-break between only those players and we return to step 1.
2. For the purposes of Buchholz and Sonneborn-Berger, should a player involved in the tie have played against more opponents than a player they are tied with then their lowest ranked opponents are removed until all players have an equal number of opponents to be compared against.
3. If during the tournament a tie-break must be resolved to determine the draw for the next round the arbiter will do so if they deem it reasonable to do so, otherwise players are drawn randomly.  The arbiter’s decision will be final.
4. If a player or subset of players can be separated by the tiebreak leaving a smaller group of players tied, this will be done and the new group tiebreak shall be re-evaluated from the start.

The below rules apply only to Online Mind Sports Olympiad competitions

For 2-player games we shall utilise the tiebreak as presented on the platform which is being used to play the tournament, unless another method is communicated within the Tournament Information.  If no tiebreak is presented or the presented tiebreak is insufficient to break the tie we shall apply the MSO standard 2-player tiebreak, as follows:
1. Buchholz: Sum of opponent’s scores discarding the two lowest opposition scores.
2. Buchholz: This is the sum of opponents’ scores without ignoring any opponents.
3. Progressive: Calculated by adding points from a progress table eg if your scores were: Win, Loss, Win, Draw then your progressive scores are 1, 1, 2, 2.5 and your Progress tie-break value is 6.5

Please note that for BoardGameArena automated tournaments the presented tiebreak is not always correct.  Please refer to the BoardGameArena tournaments page for details on this.

The rules below will be applied for multiplayer games unless communicated otherwise:
1. The board played on in the final round (i.e. A player from the top board is placed ahead of anyone on a lower board, if they have the same tournament points)
2. Result in the final round
3. Percentage of best opponents score*
4. Most games won
5. Buchholz (removing bottom 2 opponents)
Should a tie still remain Buchholz is continually applied next as “removing bottom 3 opponents”, then “removing 4”, “removing 5” and so on until the tie is broken. Finally “remove 1” then “remove 0” are used only if necessary.

Note for clarity that unlike in the two-player case, these multiplayer tiebreaks will supersede any tiebreaks presented by the platform, unless the tournament information explicitly requires otherwise.

*Percentage of best opponents score is calculated by dividing the players game score by the game score of their strongest opponent in the game (ie the winners score, or if the player in question won the score of the player finishing second). This tiebreak is capped at 110% per game.  The percentage of best opponents score is averaged over all rounds completed so far to calculate the players tiebreak.

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