Brain vs. Brawn – chessboxing

Thursday, March 23, 2017

While there may be a 1979 movie named ‘The Mystery of Chessboxing’ the film is actually about kung-fu and chess. The movies inspired a Wu-Tang Clan song and one of the members took his famous name from the lead villain in the movie. The actual inspiration for the sport of chess boxing came from the 1992 French comic book, ‘Froid Équateur’ (The Cold Equator). It was initially a piece of performance art by Dutch artist Lepe Rubingh but is now popular in the UK, India, Russia and Germany.

A chessboxing fight consists of 11 rounds, 6 rounds of chess and 5 rounds of boxing. Chess and boxing rounds alternate, beginning and ending with a round of chess. Each round lasts three minutes, regardless of whether it involves chess or boxing. The total amount of chess playing time is 18 minutes, making it 9 minutes for each player.

After each chess round, the exact setup is digitally recorded and then re-positioned before the following chess round. The breaks in between the chess and boxing rounds usually last 60 seconds. The duration of the rounds and overall fight time in amateur chessboxing fights can change to some degree, as in for example youth tournaments and exhibition fights. [Source: Wiki]

Like with traditional boxing the organizational bodies are fractious and it is difficult to name the legitimate champion outside of organizational events. There are a number of podcasts dedicated to the sport and women are a large part of the community too. That said the pursuit for the smartest and toughest man on the planet (according to promotional material) continues.

Chess maybe considered a cerebral pursuit but a traditional martial arts saying is that a black belt becomes a white belt after getting hit in the face a few times. That logic should apply to chess boxing too.

The author, Nicholas Westerby, has trained boxing and kickboxing since 1995. You can watch his UFC retrospectives, predictions and fight card reactions on his YouTube channel.

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