Pestaño: The hybrid sport of chess-boxing

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Thursday, December 5, 2013


MOST of the sports news this past week has been about chess and boxing.

In a match that was viewed by over 200 million live and online daily, Magnus Carlsen easily overwhelmed the reigning world chess champion Viswanathan Anand in Chennai.

Almost at the same time, Manny Pacquiao demolished Brandon Rios in Macau that gave Pinoys and the suffering victims Yolanda something to cheer for as the match was also viewed by millions elsewhere.

Do you know that there is a sport now which is a combination of both? It is called, of course, chess-boxing and if you don’t believe it’s for real , read on. It is described in puns as a showdown between brains and brawns, rooks and hooks and wits and fists.

The hybrid sport of chess-boxing, developed initially in Berlin by Lepe Rubingh, was established in London by television producer Timothy Woolgar in 2008.

Los Angeles , Tokyo , Nantes (France), Reykjavík , Amsterdam , Calcutta and Krasnoyarsk (Russia) have all staged events over the last five years.

How does it work? A full match consists of 11 rounds: six rounds of chess, each four minutes long, and five rounds of boxing, each three minutes long. The match begins with a chess round, which is followed by boxing. Rounds of chess and boxing alternate until the end of the match. There is a one-minute break between each round, during which competitors change gear. Rules of blitz chess are used (including touch move), and a competitor only has a total of 12 minutes in chess. The players wear closed-back headphones during the chess rounds to avoid being distracted by the live chess commentary, or hearing advice shouted from the audience. Time is measured using a chess clock.

A competitor may win the match during a boxing round by knockout or TKO, by achieving a checkmate or if the opponent’s 12 minutes run out during a chess round, or by the opponent’s resignation at any point.

If there is a stalemate, the scores from the boxing rounds are used to determine the winner. If the boxing score is also a draw, the outcome is declared as a tie.

The sport is governed by the World chess-boxing Association (WCBA) based in London and it has promoted more than 20 tournaments in the last five years. Another group is the World Chess Boxing Organization.

Chess-boxers must not only be fit and experienced boxers, but must also be at least Class A as a chess player. Nikolai Sazhin has an Elo 1900, while European chess boxing champion Tihomir Atanassov Dovramadjiev is a Fide Master with a rating over 2300 and has won multiple chess competitions. Arik Braun, the strongest chess player to have competed in Chessboxing, is a grandmaster rated 2556. Chess players are intelligent enough to know what they are doing.

Thirteen countries, including the US, Germany, Russia, the UK and France, play the game. Newer entrants like Iran, China and India (over 300 members including lots of women) have also introduced the sport.

Calling Cebu boxing promoters!

Chess-boxing is a global phenomenon. There are around 380 active members of the World Chess Boxing Organization, with affiliate groups across Europe, Asia and America. The Berlin Chessboxing Club alone has 450 members, 80 of whom are in training every day.

There’s a chessboxing club in China, asking “Who’s the smartest, toughest guy in China?” In the last three months, a chessboxing club was even formed in Iran.

This new sport has competitors floating like butterflies and stinging like kings!

An excellent chessboxing match would be between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, who are both avid chessplayers. How about it Bob Arum?

(boypestano@gmail.com,www.chessmoso.blogspot.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 06, 2013.

Sports

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