Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chess Boxing - Where brains and brawn meet

by +Alexa Rankin

I have just discovered a new sport which combines the tough, manly endurance of boxing and the geeky excitement of chess. Ladies and gentlemen I introduce to you ChessBoxing.

ChessBoxing is a real sport
ChessBoxing - this is the chess portion of the bout
I have often found myself torn between choosing a muscular man with an IQ smaller than his biceps, or a smart guy who struggles to tear a sheet of toilet paper off the roll by himself. Well now I don't have to, because the sport of ChessBoxing is developing a strain of guys who are tough enough to defend my honor and smart enough to help my nephew with his calculus homework.

The origin of ChessBoxing dates back to the 1970's when two brothers, James and Stewart Robinson combined their love of both sports and created the first ChessBoxing club. The phenomenon stayed pretty much under the radar for decades even though Carl Douglas recorded a song about ChessBoxing called 'Checkmate Fighting'. Unfortunately his record label made him change it to 'Kung Fu Fighting' to capitalize on the martial arts explosion after the sudden death of Bruce Lee.

Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting
Pawn to Queen's Knight 4
The 80's were blissfully ignorant of this underground sport which was growing a huge fan-base in Scandinavia, Germany and India (but then the 80's were ignorant about music and fashion too). In 1993,  "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" was brought to the mainstream by the Wu-Tang Clan on their first album 'Enter the Wu-Tang'. The only real mystery is what the song has to do with ChessBoxing.

In 2003 the WCBO (World Chess Boxing Organization) was formed in Berlin and the sport was officially recognized. The WCBO oversee all ChessBoxing worldwide and have published the official rules of the sport. The first rule change was that competitors are required to remove their gloves for the chess rounds to make it easier to pick up and move the pieces. I borrowed the following rules summary from Wikipedia:
A full match consists of eleven rounds: six rounds of chess, each three minutes long, and five rounds of boxing, each three minutes long (four minutes under amateur rules). The match begins with a chess round which is followed by a boxing round. Rounds of chess and boxing alternate until the end of the match. There is a one-minute break between each round, during which competitors cool out and change gear. Rules of fast chess are used, and a competitor only has a total of twelve minutes to use for all his chess moves. Player's chess time is measured using a chess clock.
A competitor may win the match during a boxing round by knockout or a technical stoppage by the referee, by achieving a checkmate or if the opponent's twelve minutes run out during a chess round, or by the opponent's resignation at any point. If the chess game reaches a stalemate, the scores from the boxing rounds are used to determine the winner. If the boxing score (calculated on a round-by-round basis) is also a draw, the outcome is declared as a tie.
If a competitor fails to make a move during the chess round, he can be issued a warning after which he must make a legal move within the next 10 seconds or become disqualified. Repeated warnings may also result in a disqualification. The warnings are in use to avoid situations where a competitor would stall a losing chess game and focus his activity only on boxing.
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.
All competitors are required to achieve a proficiency in both boxing and chess to avoid a scenario where Mike Tyson limps through the first chess round and then atomizes his opponent in the subsequent boxing round. There is also the possibility of a chess grand-master winning the chess round before either player gets his gloves on. 

Garry Kasparov talking smack at a press conference
Garry Kasparov talking smack at a press conference
There is a rumor that Garry Kasparov has started training hard for a much anticipated rematch with his old adversary Deep Blue, the IBM super-computer who won one and lost one against Kasparov in the mid 90's. Although IBM have not confirmed that a tie breaker fight will take place, there have been leaked images of technicians retro-fitting arms and legs to the Deep Blue CPU chassis.

Deep Blue ready for the Kasparov rematch
IBM's Deep Blue v2.0 
Who do you think is going to win the Kasparov/Deep Blue rematch? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

1 comment :

L.A. Green said...

Hmm so every substantial move or every time you take out a key piece, one gets punched in the face....imagine.

(Bells go off and ref checks both guys)

Ref: yeah, they both knocked each other out. It's a tie.


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