Chess Boxing is a hybrid sport which combines the sport of Boxing with games of Chess in alternating rounds. Chess boxing fights have been staged since the spring of 2003.
Structure and rulesEdit
A match between two opponents consists of up to eleven alternating rounds of Boxing and Chess sessions, starting with a four-minute Chess round followed by two minutes of boxing and so on. Between rounds there is a 1 minute pause, during which competitors change their gear. The form of Chess played is "Speed Chess" in which each competitor has a total of twelve minutes for the whole game. Competitors may win by knockout, checkmate, a judge's decision or if their opponent's twelve minutes of Chess time elapses. If a contestant doesn't make a move in the chessround, he will be issued a warning by the referee. At the second warning the contestant will be disqualified.
The concept was envisioned in 1992 by cartoonist Enki Bilal, and a match of Chess boxing was a major plot point of his graphic novel Froid-Équateur. Iepe Rubingh, a Dutch artist known under the name IEPE, whose fighters' name is 'Iepe the Joker', was inspired by Bilal's book. He brought the concept to life in the spring of 2003.
Chess boxing was featured in the 1991 Finnish movie Uuno Turhapuro - herra Helsingin herra, where Uuno plays Blindfold Chess against one person using a hands-free telephone headset while boxing another person. It is not known whether Bilal was aware of the movie. Rubingh claims that he had not known about it.
In addition, there is a 1979 movie by director Joseph Kuo called "Ninja Checkmate" whose USA dubbed version was known as "Mystery of Chess Boxing". It does not feature chessboxing as understood in this article. This movie is likely an inspiration for the Wu-Tang Clan song Da Mystery of Chessboxin', from their first album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993).
The sport is governed by the World Chess Boxing Organisation (WCBO), whose motto is "Fighting is done in the ring and wars are waged on the board." The first world championship was held in Amsterdam in 2003 and was won by Iepe Rubingh himself. The 1st European Chess Boxing Championship took place in Berlin on 1 October 2005 when Tihomir Tigertad Titschko of Bulgaria defeated Andreas 'D'Schneider of Germany after the latter conceded defeat in the seventh round.
On April 21, 2006, about 400 people gathered in the Gloria Theatre, Cologne, to see two Chessboxing matches. Zoran 'the Priest' Mijatovic played the Queen's Gambit. Zoran's opponent, 37-year old former UN Peacekeeper Frank 'Anti Terror' Stoldt, was well prepared and controlled both the chess board and the boxing rounds.
In April 2008, the World Chess Federation FIDE posted a video on its website in which its president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov played a friendly Chess Boxing match in Elista. Also in April 2008 the UK's first Chess Boxing club was launched in London by Great Britain Chess Boxing Organisation founder Tim Woolgar.
In July of 2008 in Berlin a 19-year old Russian mathematics student Nikolai Sazhin won the title of "World Champion" in Chess Boxing by defeating Frank Stoldt. Stoldt resigned in the 5th round after losing his queen.
Required chess skillEdit
World-class Chess-boxers are not just good boxers but are skilled Chess players as well. For example, Sahzin has an Elo rating of around 1900 while European Chess Boxing champion Tihomir Atanassov Dovramadjiev is a FIDE Master with a rating over 2300 and has won multiple Chess competitions.
- The official WCBO site
- Chess Boxing site
- A report on the 2003 World Championship match
- An article about the European Championship bout
- Account of the City of Cologne Chess Boxing Championship fight
- Interview with Chess Boxing pioneer
- ESPN Chess Boxing article