“Brain meets brawn.” That’s how many are describing the hybrid spot of chess boxing. Yes, chess boxing! As the name suggests, chess boxing combines the cerebral discipline of chess and the physical force of boxing. Athletes are pitted against each other in rotational 3-minute rounds of chess, followed a 3-minute round of boxing. The first opponent to knock out the competition or proclaim ‘check mate’ wins. Chess boxing is Bobby Fisher meets Muhammed Ali.
For a close up look at the sport, check out the official chess boxing video by Andrew “The Fightin’ Philanthropist” McGregor of the LA Chessboxing Club. http://vimeo.com/10189565
The World Chess Boxing Organization (whose main objective is to make chess boxing an internationally recognized sport with Olympic aspirations) call chess boxing is the ultimate challenge for both the body and the mind. Their official website compares chess boxing to a biathlon with “extreme physical stress is combined with a huge mental challenge.” But where in earth did this unusual sport begin? According to the WCBO, chess boxing’s origins came from a comic artistic performance called “Le Froid Eqateur” (translated to ‘cold equator’) conceptualized by Dutch artist Enki Bilal. It grew from there into a serious spot that now has hundreds of dedicated followers worldwide. Chess Boxing clubs and events are popping up around the world, with organizations based in Berlin, Siberia, London, Kolkata, Munich and Los Angeles.
Recently, I had a chance to attend a chess boxing event held in a private warehouse in downtown LA. Guests were dressed in thrift store formal wear, donning fur coats and fedoras they scored at the local Goodwill. Holding plastic champagne glasses filled to the brim with Brut, they meandered around the graffiti-art space, spoke of social entrepreneurship and eagerly anticipated the fight.
Marked off with yellow caution tape, the makeshift ring included a space to spar and a chessboard area. A roving camera captured the action and master chess moves were projected onto a screen overhead. The crowd gathered around, snapping photos and tweeting real- time comments about this unusual sport.
As I watch the opponents locked in barbaric embrace, my mind began to wonder. Could this be the start of a new sport trend, giving birth to such bizarro athletic endeavors as Scrabble MMA? Jenga jujitsu?
There were six fighters and three matches. Body blows were dished out; queens were taken, fun was had. Most importantly, the event gave the sport more profile and it raised money for a great cause. Organized by the LA Chessboxing Club, in collaboration with the Tuxedo Tyrants (a non-profit party planning group that specializes in ‘charitable bar crawls and social hijinks’), proceeds went to The Tiziano Project, an organizing teaching citizen journalism in war-torn regions of the world.
For more information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, check out the lachessboxing.com . For international events produced by Chess Boxing organizations around the world, from Berlin to Kolkata visit the World Chess Boxing Organization http://wcbo.org