By Prof. Richard Stark

WN Tournamaent of the Minds Photo montage from the Tournament of Minds at WCN 2019 in Dubai


The Tournament of Minds has been a well-loved component of the world Congress of Neurology since 2001.

The inaugural tournament  was held in London in 2001. This set the tone for future events. The idea behind the tournament was to produce a series of questions on neurological topics with an entertaining as well as educational element. Member societies were invited to enter a national representative team of four neurologists. The initial tournament was hotly contested over elimination, semi-final, and final rounds.

A similar format was put in place for the Sydney 2005 WCN. These first two tournaments were composed by the host society on each occasion without formal input from the WFN office and the sessions were chaired by the local committee members who had been involved in producing the questions.

With the success of the tournament in 2001 and 2005, it was decided that there should be a formal structure and a WFN tournament committee was established. This was initially chaired by Raad Shakir. In the 2009 WCN in Bangkok, the tournament questions were produced by the local Thai organizing committee as they had been by the UK and Australia in earlier tournaments. However, on this occasion, the questions were reviewed and edited by the WFN tournament committee in consultation with the local committee and chairmanship of the sessions was shared between WFN and local contributors, resulting in a professional and even smoother production.

A similar format continued through the WCNs of 2011 in Marrakesh, 2013 in Vienna, 2015 in Santiago, 2017 in Kyoto, and 2019 in Dubai. In all cases, local organizing committees produced marvelous sets of questions with a significant local flavor. The senior contributors would in most cases join the WFN tournament committee for subsequent congresses adding their acquired experience and wisdom to make a process even better. When Raad Shakir became president of WFN in 2013, he handed chairmanship of the Tournament committee to Richard Stark who in turn has handed it on to Nicholas Davies for 2021 and 2023.

In 2021, the pandemic resulted in the conference being held as a virtual event rather than in person in Rome. This produced organizational challenges in running the tournament, but these were overcome. The host society from Italy again produced the questions which gave the tournament a local flavor. One consequence of these challenges was that it would be difficult to get a truly national team together in a single room to engage in the virtual tournament, as often team members would come from a range of different cities within a nation. It was therefore decided to open the tournament to departmental teams, and this proved highly successful.

The plan for Montréal in 2023 ⧉ is that the tournament will be held both in person and virtually and once again departmental teams will be encouraged to participate. We are looking forward to welcoming teams from around the world.

I have been involved in the Tournament since 2001 (as a participant) and since 2005 as a contributor and chair. Throughout this time, I have been amazed and gratified to see the talent and knowledge that has been displayed by all contestants, many of them early in their careers, from all parts of the world: It is truly uplifting to see and makes one strongly optimistic about the future of neurology. •


Richard Stark is treasurer of the WFN and past chair of the WCN tournament committee.

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World Neurology  | January-February 2023, Volume 38, No. 1