Greetings, brain game aficionados!
Are you ready to flex your mental muscles?
Dive into our mind sports list, sorted by popularity.
From chess grandmasters to newbie card players, there’s something here to challenge and entertain every level of strategy enthusiast!
Table of Contents
Chess is said to have originated in northern India in the 6th century as a game called Chaturanga, which later evolved into the game we know today. It spread throughout the East and Europe and became popular worldwide over the centuries.
The World Chess Championship, the pinnacle of competitive chess, started in 1886, and the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was founded in 1924. While not an Olympic sport, chess is played in other international competitions such as the Chess Olympiad and the World Team Championship.
Poker is thought to have roots in the 17th-century French game of Poque, later developing in the United States during the early 19th century. It has become very popular worldwide, particularly in the USA and Europe.
The most prestigious tournament, the World Series of Poker (WSOP), began in 1970. Poker is not an Olympic sport, but it’s played in various national and international competitions, including the World Poker Tour.
Bridge, a popular trick-taking card game, has its origins in the British game Whist and later evolved into its modern version in the early 20th century. Bridge is popular in the USA and Europe, among other regions.
The World Bridge Federation (WBF), founded in 1958, governs the game. Bridge is not an Olympic sport, but it is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and played in international competitions such as the World Bridge Championships and the World Team Championships.
Go, an ancient board game, is believed to have been created over 2,500 years ago in China. It became popular in Japan and Korea and eventually spread to the West in the 20th century.
The International Go Federation (IGF), founded in 1982, oversees the game. While not an Olympic sport, Go has numerous international and national tournaments, including the World Amateur Go Championship, the LG Cup, and the Samsung Cup.
Scrabble, a popular word game, was invented in 1938 by American architect Alfred Mosher Butts. It gained widespread popularity in the USA and the UK and is now enjoyed by millions worldwide.
The World Scrabble Championship started in 1991, and the game is governed by various national organizations. Although not an Olympic sport, Scrabble is played in numerous national and international competitions.
Mahjong is a game of Chinese origin that dates back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). It became popular in Western countries in the 1920s and is now enjoyed worldwide.
The World Mahjong Organization (WMO) was established in 2005 to govern international competitions. Mahjong is not an Olympic sport, but it’s played in various tournaments, including the World Mahjong Championship.
Backgammon, one of the oldest known board games, dates back around 5,000 years to ancient Mesopotamia.
The game is popular in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. Backgammon is not an Olympic sport, but it has international tournaments like the World Backgammon Championship and various national championships.
Shogi, a traditional Japanese strategy board game with similarities to chess, is thought to have originated in India and traveled to Japan during the 8th century.
The Japan Shogi Association (JSA), founded in 1924, oversees the game. Shogi is not an Olympic sport, but it is played in numerous national and international competitions, including the prestigious Meijin title match and the Annual General Shogi Tournament.
#9 Xiangqi (Chinese Chess)
Xiangqi, or Chinese Chess, has its roots in ancient games of similar structure dating back to the Warring States period (475-220 BCE) in China. The game remains popular in China and other East Asian countries.
Xiangqi is not an Olympic sport, but numerous international and national tournaments are played, including the World Xiangqi Championship.
Checkers, also known as Draughts, is thought to have originated in ancient Egypt around 3,500 years ago before spreading to Europe. It is popular worldwide, particularly in the USA, Europe, and Africa.
The World Draughts Federation (FMJD) governs international competitions. Although not an Olympic sport, checkers has numerous tournaments, including the World Checkers/Draughts Championship and various national championships.
More Mind Sports
- Othello (Reversi): Othello, also known as Reversi, is a strategy board game invented in the late 19th century in England. It gained popularity worldwide in the 20th century. The World Othello Championship, organized by the World Othello Federation, has been held annually since 1977. Othello is not an Olympic sport.
- Stratego: Stratego is a strategy board game with origins in France in the early 20th century. It is popular in North America, Europe, and Asia. National and international Stratego tournaments are organized by the International Stratego Federation, which was founded in 2004. Stratego is not an Olympic sport.
- Risk: Risk, a strategic board game, was invented by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse in 1957. It is popular worldwide, with the World Risk Championship held annually. Risk is not an Olympic sport.
- Diplomacy: Diplomacy is a strategic board game that originated in the United States in 1959. It has a dedicated following globally, particularly in North America, Europe, and Australia. Various international and national Diplomacy tournaments are organized, including the World Diplomacy Championship. It is not an Olympic sport.
- Magic: The Gathering: Magic: The Gathering is a collectible card game created by mathematician Richard Garfield and released by Wizards of the Coast in 1993. Over 35 million players exist worldwide, and the game is especially popular in the US, Europe, and Asia. The Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour is the game’s premier event, alongside multiple Grand Prix events held globally. Magic: The Gathering is not an Olympic sport.
- Netrunner: Netrunner is a collectible card game designed by Richard Garfield in 1996. Though discontinued in 2018, the game maintains a dedicated fan base. Netrunner is not an Olympic sport, but organized play and tournaments have included events like the Netrunner World Championship.
- Dominion: Dominion, a strategy deck-building game, was designed by Donald X. Vaccarino and released in 2008. It has worldwide popularity, especially in North America and Europe. Along with various regional and national tournaments, the Dominion World Championship takes place every two years. Dominion is not an Olympic sport.
- Carcassonne: Carcassonne is a tile-laying board game that was created by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede in 2000. It is popular worldwide, with a strong following in Europe and North America. The World Carcassonne Championship has been held annually since 2002. Carcassonne is not an Olympic sport.
- Settlers of Catan: Settlers of Catan, a resource management board game, was designed by Klaus Teuber and released in 1995. The game has become very popular globally, especially in the US, Europe, and Asia. The Catan World Championship and various national championships take place regularly. Settlers of Catan is not an Olympic sport.
What are the most popular mind sports?
The most popular mind sports include chess, poker, bridge, go, scrabble, mahjong, backgammon, shogi, xiangqi (Chinese Chess), and checkers.
How many different mind sports are there?
Our mind sports list includes 19 unique mind sports.