You may have heard about the Triathlon, an event that combines three basic sports: running, cycling and swimming. You may also have heard about the Biathlon which combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. But, have you ever heard about Chessboxing? No? Well it is exactly what it sounds like, a combination between two of the oldest forms of competition we have seen.
So how does it work? A full Chessboxing match consists of eleven rounds: six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing in alternating order. The match starts with a four minute round of chess, followed by a three minute round of boxing. The match can be won in three different ways: first, by a knockout or a referee’s decision in a boxing round; second, by achieving a checkmate, or third, if the opponent’s total of twelve minutes reacting time runs out during a chess round. Warnings are issued if a competitor stalls a losing chess game to focus on the boxing. If more than three warnings are given to one player, the opponent wins the game.
Boxing was introduced as an Olympic sports by the ancient Greeks as early as 688 BC. Chess originates from India before the 6th century AD. The combination of the two has a much later origin, as the earliest references to the sports is from London in 1978, when two brothers started Chessboxing in a regular boxing club. Still, the man who is known for inventing the sport is artist Enki Bilal. He introduced it in one of his comic books in 1992.
The sport is governed by the World Chessboxing Organization and operates under the strapline: “The smartest, toughest (wo)man on the planet”. The WCBO arranged the first World Championship in 2003, and Tihomir Atanassov Dovramadjiev of Bulgaria conquered Andreas Schneider of Germany, in the seventh (chess) round. The most recent world champion is Nikolay Sazhin, who won the title in July 2012.
To avoid former boxers to dominate the sport, there is a requirement all chess boxers must meet. They need to hold a “Class A” strength as a Chess player. To meet this requirement you need an ELO rating between 1800-1999. This equals a lower expert level, meaning you have to have a great talent for two sports to be able to compete at an international and national level.
If you feel you have what it takes between the ears and in the gloves, jump on the LIRR down to New York City, as there are currently no listed chess boxing clubs on Long Island. NYC Chessboxing is located in Greenwich Village in Gotham Gym on Washington Street.