Chess boxing – Annenberg Media


“The Sports activities Search” is a column by Jack Waterman about distinctive sports activities.

Welcome to the Sports activities Search! Each different week I’ll take you on my journey to discover the large world of sports activities, particularly these unknown by me or the typical fan. These sports activities will introduce features of a tradition, present a artistic spin on these sports activities we’re all conversant in or simply make me giggle. I problem myself to guess completely different aspects in regards to the sport and its guidelines earlier than researching it, almost certainly being wildly fallacious. Regardless, I’m glad you’ve determined to study alongside me. Right here we go!

Each sport requires a singular mixture of each bodily and psychological attributes. A quarterback wants a powerful arm and fast processing abilities. A sprinter wants highly effective legs and lighting-quick response time. A swimmer wants unbelievable endurance and excessive focus. What if as an alternative of seeing each features work collectively concurrently, you may isolate the 2. A sport the place the brains and the brawn are separated from one another and independently spotlighted.

Introducing… chess boxing!


Upon first thought, I’ve acquired to consider that this can be a pretty self-explanatory sport. I assume there may be some boxing and there may be some chessing (that positively isn’t a phrase, however for this text I’m coining it).

I’m picturing a boxer who appears rather less loopy, as in the event that they’ve been overwhelmed within the head fewer occasions than the typical boxer, and I’m seeing a chess participant that appears a bit out of their aspect, as if they might break the items as they transfer them round.

I’m conversant in the aims of boxing and chess, so I must say that whoever knocks out or checkmates the opposite first is the victor. Nonetheless, I query this as a result of if you happen to had an incredible boxer who simply knocked the opposite man out within the first spherical, then we wouldn’t get to see any chess and that’s simply unhealthy tv.

However, previous these guesses, I’m at a loss. I couldn’t let you know the place this originated (though part of me might simply see this having began at a frat social gathering or soccer recreation tailgate), who would possibly play it or the way you play.

Nonetheless, what I lack in solutions, I make up for in questions. What actually confuses me is the logistics. Are these separate occasions occurring on the similar time? I’m sitting right here picturing two gamers sitting down at a desk, and one man strikes his rook after which proceeds to take a swing on the different man. For some cause, my largest challenge with that’s that the desk would possibly shake and the items might fall over. As nicely, if this isn’t the way it’s performed and they’re separate, do you consider your subsequent chess strikes whereas boxing, or are you pondering of a technique to knock out your opponent in the course of the chess match? Technique is essential to any sport, and these questions want solutions.

The Guidelines

In chess boxing, opponents compete in 11 alternating rounds of chess and boxing. Every spherical lasts three minutes, with a one minute break in between, and the match ends when somebody will get knocked out within the ring or checkmated on the board.

As nicely, if neither of these occur, time performs an element. For those who burn up your whole allotted chess-playing time, 9 minutes, or have fewer boxing factors when the rounds conclude, you lose. Fighters are organized into weight lessons: Light-weight, Middleweight, Gentle Heavyweight and Heavyweight. On the chess aspect, whereas there are not any groupings as a result of capability, every participant should have an ELO rating of 1600. There is no such thing as a messing round on this sport.

Upon studying extra in regards to the guidelines, I believed it will be greatest to get into some clips of chess boxing in motion. I used to be not upset. Not solely is boxing at all times enjoyable to observe, however when that very same depth is carried into the sport of chess … boy, does it get enjoyable. The idea of chess being a quiet sport is totally tossed out the window because the commentators are amplified over loudspeakers and followers are free to cheer as they like.

Nonetheless, by means of all the joy, I couldn’t assist questioning about one thing: If the final bout of boxing was a very bloody one, would possibly the items and board additionally get bloody, leaving any unknowing viewer to tune in and grow to be wildly confused about this obvious chess bloodbath? If you’re a chess boxer and may make clear this for me, let me know.

Historical past

Most surprisingly, chess boxing has been round for a while. Beginning in Western Europe, the primary match occurred all the way in which again in 2003 in Berlin. It gained sufficient gamers and supporters to have the primary ever chess boxing world championship that very same 12 months. Dutch Middleweight fighters Iepe Rubingh and Jean Louis Veenstra went toe-to-toe for all 11 rounds till Rubingh’s victory as a result of Veenstra utilizing up all his allotted chess time.

Since that riveting match, chess boxing has continued with its world championships and seen enlargement internationally, receiving protection from main information sources akin to Eurosport, CNN and the Los Angeles Instances.

Talking of L.A., created in 2009, the Los Angeles Chess boxing Club was the primary of its variety in the US. So far as I’m involved, that must be L.A.’s declare to fame.

Just lately, chess boxing has been gaining extra supporters and sponsors, and in 2016, then-FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov publicly introduced that he needed chess boxing to be included within the Olympic Video games. I positively underestimated this sport.

It even has its personal inside drama! Two of the most well-liked chess boxers, Rubingh and Woolgar, have wildly completely different personalities; Rubingh was far more skilled whereas Woolgar’s occasions have been mainly a celebration. Due to this, they couldn’t determine easy methods to higher construction the game, resulting in the creation of two separate governing our bodies: the World Chess Boxing Affiliation and the World Chess Boxing Group. That. Is. Superior.


Chess and boxing are each extremely tough sports activities on the highest stage. I do know these guys aren’t essentially the perfect at every particular person sport, however doing them collectively needs to be tough. It requires coaching of the mind and the physique, and I’ve gained immense respect for them.

I feel I’ll at all times view chess boxing with a touch of humor in its idea, and proceed to query the small, comical nuances just like the bloody chess items. Nonetheless, if I’ve realized one factor, it’s that chess boxing is legit. Followers, announcers and gamers alike actually care about this sport and I couldn’t be happier that I stumbled upon it. Sorry boxing, you’re too unsophisticated now. Sorry chess, you simply aren’t thrilling sufficient anymore. Now chessboxing — that’s one thing I can get behind.

The “Sports activities Search” usually runs each different Friday.

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