Checkmate or knockout? 3 things to know about chessboxing

Have you seen this new fad?

Photo by sampics/Sampics/Corbis via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

There are several sports that combine multiple two disciplines, such as biathlon (cross-country skiing), nordic combined (ski jumping, cross-country skiing) and the decathlon or heptathlon in track and field.

But there’s a new hybrid sport that is catching on with some that might be the most unusual of all.

Have you ever heard of chessboxing?

If not, here’s a synopsis of this new fad that has been going viral online.

What is chessboxing?

Chessboxing is a hybrid sport that combines the disciplines of chess and boxing. Competitors go from trying to see who has the biggest brain in chess, to then trying to beat one another’s brains out in boxing.

It was birthed in Europe, with the first competition taking place back in 2003 in Berlin, Germany.

Competitors alternate between playing blitz chess for a short period of time, and then putting on gloves and helmet gear for a round of boxing before the chess board is brought back out to the middle of the ring, and so forth.

On Sunday, there was a chessboxing card in Los Angeles that featured seven matches seen by a crowd 10,000 people in attendance and by more than 3 million viewers online.

It should be noted that blitz chess is a type of chess where contestants are given less time to formulate maneuvers.

If players are deemed to be wasting time, they will be given a 10-second penalty by the referee.

What are the rules?

A match consists of 11 alternating rounds of chess (6 rounds) and boxing (5 rounds).

Times of the rounds in each discipline can vary at different tournaments, but chess rounds usually are 2-4 minutes, while boxing rounds are anywhere from a minute-and-a-half to three minutes.

Boxing rounds are scored by points, as is the case in professional boxing.

Victory is attained in the following ways:

  • By knockout or technical knockout in boxing
  • By checkmate in chess
  • Through one player losing due to exceeding the chess game’s time control
  • Resignation/forfeiture by either participant in one of the disciplines
  • Disqualification for multiple rules infractions in either discipline

If matches aren’t won by checkmate in chess or knockout in boxing, the competitor with the most boxing points at the end of the 11 rounds wins. If the boxing portion ends in a draw and there’s been no checkmate after all of the rounds are completed, the competitor who played the black pieces wins since the player with the white pieces has the first turn.

What qualifications must competitors have?

This definitely isn’t a sport for anybody to just show up and play. Competitors much have a chess rating of at least 1,800 to compete and also must have boxing knowledge. As is the case in regular boxing, there are also weight classes.

For women, weight classes are 121.3 pounds (lightweight), 143.3 pounds (middleweight), 165.3 pounds (light heavyweight max) and more than 165.3 pounds (heavyweight).

For men, weight classes are 154.3 pounds (lightweight), 176.4 pouns (middleweight), 198.4 pounds (light heavyweight max) and more than 198.4 pounds (heavyweight).


About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.