So, I think I’ve finally found my sport. It combines brains and brawn, strategy and endurance, and the ability to absorb both physical and mental anguish. In short, this is a sport that tests the whole man. In fact, just trying to overcome one’s sense of disbelief at Chess Boxing is enough to make even a seasoned athlete work up a sweat. Here’s the lowdown from the World Chess Boxing Organization’s (yes it’s real!) own site:
The basic idea in chess boxing is to combine the #1 thinking sport and the #1 fighting sport into a hybrid that demands the most of its competitors – both mentally and physically.
In a chess boxing fight two opponents play alternating rounds of chess and boxing. The contest starts with a round of chess, followed by a boxing round, followed by another round of chess and so on. A contest consists of 11 rounds, 6 rounds of chess, 5 rounds of boxing. A round of chess takes 4 minutes. Each competitor has 12 minutes on the chess timer.
A round of boxing takes 3 minutes. Between the rounds there is a 1 minute pause, during which competitors change their gear. The contest is decided by: checkmate (chess round), exceeding the time limit (chess round), retirement of an opponent (chess or boxing round), KO (boxing round), or referee decision (boxing round). If the chess game ends in a stalement, the opponent with the higher score in boxing wins. If there is an equal score, the opponent with the black pieces wins.
The first chess boxing matches were fought (played?) in South London and the sport even spawned an influential 1979 Hong Kong martial arts film, The Mystery Of Chess Boxing, which was originally titled Ninja Checkmate. And you thought the Winter Olympics were weird.
In case you’re having trouble picturing how this bizarre contest actually goes down, check out this video from the Wold Chess Boxing Championships in 2008 which shows a world champ chess boxer getting bested by an up-and-coming rival…