Believe it or not there’s a sport that takes the glamour of chess and combines it with the brutality of boxing. In fact the World Chess Boxing Association has held over a dozen international events since it was formed in 2008.
A Chessboxing match is composed of 11 rounds – switching from a 4 minute chess game, to a 3 minute boxing round, all the chess is played using speed chess rules. The winner of a particular match is decided through either a KO or checkmate – or if neither is achieved in the time, it goes to a judges decision. The chess event is played with the players wearing headphones so that no-one can shout out advice to them while they are sat either side of the chess board.
The history of the game is pretty short and it was actually a joke sport conceived by a cartoonist and featured in a comic book called Froid Equateur back in 1992. The very first World title event took place in Amsterdam in 2003. The first title holder was a guy called Lepe Rubingh.
After that the whole idea snowballed and there have been European Chess Boxing Championships (The first holder having the slightly difficult to pronounce name of Tihomir Atanassov Dovdramadjiev – He’s a Bulgarian) and many other events all over the world.
In 2008, FIDE (the World Chess Federation) decided to get in on the act too and published a video of a “friendly” chess boxing event starring the organization’s president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. In fact it might surprise you to learn that not just anyone can enter the official chess boxing tournaments and it is a requirement to have a minimum ranking of 1900 (ELO) in order to participate. Our Bulgarian winner (and current European chess boxing champ) has a FIDE rating of 2,300 and he’s won plenty of standalone chess competitions in his time too. So we might have lied a little about it not being a cerebral sport – but it’s certainly a physical one too.