Chessboxing is one of the most unusual sports, which was first mentioned as early as the 1980s and has gained popularity primarily in Germany, Great Britain, India, Russia and Bulgaria. Find out what this niche sport is all about!
A brief history of chess boxing / chessboxing
The first information about chessboxing can be found in the London sports annals. According to available sources, in 1978 two brothers Stewart and James Robinson were fighting in a boxing club Samuel Montagu Youth Centre, which directly resembled struggles in chessboxing.
The official date of the sport’s inception is one 1992, and the authorship of the design is credited to French comic book artist and graphic designer Enki Bilal. In one of the volumes created by him under the title “Cold Equator” the main characters fight for the title of World Champion in chess boxing. The Dutch performer Iepe Rubingh, who gained popularity and recognition among the general public through his artistic show in 2003, also contributed a lot to the development of the discipline. Two months after this performance, the first official world championship fight was held in a Berlin art gallery.
Official tournaments and the WCBO world organization
The first world title fight was organized in Amsterdam in 2003. Dutch performer Lepe “The Joker” and his friend Louis “The Lawye” Veenstra faced off. The duel in the boxing ring and at the chess board was won by Lepe, who also emerged victorious during the struggle organized for the performance in the art gallery.
After the first championship fight, the World Chess Boxing Organisation (WCBO) was founded. The main motto of the federation was “Fights are fought in the ring, wars are fought on the board”, which refers to the two-phase nature of chess boxing. Then, in 2005, the first ever European Chessboxing Championships were organized. The event took place in Bulgaria, and its winner was Tikhomir Tichko. Since then, championship level competitions are organized every four years and players from all over the world participate in them.
Rules of chessboxing
Chessboxing combines two separate disciplines, so its rules are built on rules inspired by other sports. One game between two players consists of 11 rounds, 6 of which consist of playing chess, while for the remaining 5 the participants box. The rounds are played alternately, with boxing taking place in the even-numbered rounds and chess in the odd-numbered rounds. Each chess part lasts 4 minutes, and the boxing part is one minute shorter. There are one-minute breaks between rounds, during which the fighters put on or take off their boxing gloves, and a chess table is brought in and out of the ring. To derive their moves, each player has 12 minutes counted down on the clock, which they are free to use as they wish during the chess rounds. During the game, the participants are wearing special headphones, which drown out the sounds of the spectators gathered in the hall and make it easier to concentrate while playing chess.
How to win a chess boxing duel?
You can become the winner of a chess boxing match in several ways. The first is by sweeping the opponent in a chess match, while the second is by exceeding the allowed playing time, which is the deducted 12 minutes. A fighter can also win by a boxing knockout or a referee’s decision that prematurely stops a fistfight. The winner can also play the chessboxing duel to their advantage after the opponent has surrendered in chess or boxing. If a deadlock occurs in the chess portion, the player who scored more points in the boxing duel wins. If a tie also occurs in boxing, the winner is determined by the possession of black gears in the game.
The world’s first professional chess boxer is German chess grandmaster Arik Braun, who holds the individual world junior under-18 championship and the title of German chess champion.
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