UBB: Ultimate Brain vs. Brawn

Lilly Lazare-Greene / January 29, 2014 - 9:45pm

Most sports can be compared to a chess match. Especially boxing. So why not add the actual game of chess into the mix?

That’s what a fellow by the name of Iepe Rubingh did back in 2003 in Amsterdam and it’s remained very popular amongst the European chess boxing circuit.

It’s pretty much how it sounds. Kind of. First off, it’s not two guys going toe to toe at the same time as they’re trying to take each others Queen. It’s a little bit more normal than that. They alternate rounds of chess with rounds of boxing for 11 three minute rounds. Sounds easy, right? Not really. First of all they’re in a boxing ring with all their gear, minus the gloves, because playing chess with boxing gloves is just plain weird. Then they begin. The very first round is chess. Which makes total sense. A bell chimes after three minutes then there’s all this crazy commotion with lights and music while they move the chess table out of the ring and the two players have a minute to put on the gloves, transform into boxers and begin round number two, which is the very first round of boxing, and it’s pretty fast paced for a couple of guys who were just playing chess. The round is over, they have a minute to take off their gloves, put on these ridiculously large noise cancelling head phones sit down and concentrate on their next move while they’re trying to compose themselves and catch their breath. This goes on and on. Back and forth, chess to boxing. Waiting for each other to create that opening or mistake so that they can get the knock out or check mate. All the while there is a British commentary and he’s enthusiastically saying things like “he’s using the Slav Bishop block” which I’m sure most people are very familiar with and excited to hear about.

I guess it all comes down to putting a new spin on a centuries old past time. But why? Why boxing and chess? It’s like Mah Jong and Judo. Could you imagine Mable and Phyllis tossing the tiles and then tossing each other? It’s nuts. What would all those old men in their “poor boy” hats in a park somewhere playing chess on a sunny afternoon think if someone came up to their spot and said “hey pops, you want to throw down in between games?”. Although, that would probably never happen, but you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

In conclusion, while combining two very different recreational activities is not my cup of tea, chess boxing seems to be doing very well more than a decade later and teaching hundreds if not thousands of young athletes that brains are just as important as brawn.