In the dichotomous sport of chess boxing, you can win by hook or by rook. This hybrid activity, which combines the cerebral qualities of chess with the very physical sport of boxing, began as a lark in 2003, introduced to the world by a Dutch performance artist. Who knew that it would catch on, especially in Germany, the United Kingdom, India, and Russia, and be officially sanctioned by the World Chess Boxing Organisation? The rules are simple: The participants play chess and then don gloves for a round of boxing, alternating every three minutes for 11 rounds. The winner is the competitor who scores a knockout in the ring, or a checkmate on the chessboard.
No head-butting allowed:
- You can blame (or thank) artist Iepe Rubingh for making the first move into chess boxing. He got the idea from a 1992 French graphic novel, Froid Équateur, written by Enki Bilal.
- Rubingh says that “60 percent of the winning moves are made on the chessboards and 40 percent in boxing.”
- In India, chess boxing has become popular among young, poor women looking to break free of traditional societal roles.