Official Video of the Los Angeles Chessboxing Club from Andrew McGregor on Vimeo.
If you thought boxing was hard, think just how tough it must be to shine at “chessboxing”.
The name of this ultra-demanding adrenaline sport may suggest fusion fighting atop a giant chessboard. But chessboxing splits the two activities that its name implies. Participants perform them separately, using brain and brawn heavily in a case of “You throw a hook, I take your rook.”
“The basic idea in chessboxing,” says the World Chessboxing Organization “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 chessboxing bout two opponents play alternating rounds of boxing and chess – or rather “speed chess”. In the board game’s quick-fire four-minute form, snap decisions and instinct dominate.
A chessboxing match starts with a chess session, followed by a boxing round, then more chess. And so on. Ding, ding, ding!
The mood is one of organised, high-octane chaos. Repeatedly, the fighters shake hands then hunch over their knights, rooks and queens. Sweat slides from the fighters’ battered craniums right on to the board.
Between rounds, during a one-minute pause, contestants change clothes. Victory comes down to a knockout or checkmate among other scenarios. May the best move or punch win.
Because a match can be won through either activity, players must be highly versatile – borderline superhuman.
After all, few sports demand harder training than boxing, which is all about hard runs in the early morning and push-ups.
Likewise, few games put more pressure on the mental muscle between your ears than chess, which is all about nous and building the near psychic ability to think many moves ahead.