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What is Chess Boxing?

Chess Boxing is a peculiar sport that incorporates gameplay elements found in both chess and boxing and puts them into one single hybrid game. The sport originated from Germany, but it has slowly become popular in other countries like Russia, India, and the United Kingdom. The hybrid game is widely known as one of the only few sports that test both your mental strength and your physical strength. Who came up with the truly weird idea of combining chess and boxing? And is it actually considered a legitimate sport? Let us find out the answers as we take a look at the origins of chess boxing and how it is played.

How It is Played

A match of chess boxing consists of 11 rounds, with six of the rounds centered on playing chess while the five other rounds are supposed to be for the boxing portion of the match. Both the chess and the boxing rounds alternate, so most matches would start with a chess round followed by a boxing round, and so on. The rules found on the two different sports still apply to chess boxing. However, for both of the sports, each round would need to last for three minutes. So, in total, one match lasts for 18 minutes. For amateur or youth tournaments, the match can be shorter, depending on the organizers’ preferences.

chess piece and boxing gloves

Furthermore, there are also weight classes that are followed in this obscure sport, much like boxing. For men and women, there are the lightweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight classes. Amateur and youth chess boxing matches must follow the graduated in 50-kilo-steps weight class regulated by the WCBO (World Chess Boxing Organization).

After the chess round ends, the current position of the chess pieces are digitally recorded, and the chess table and board are removed from the ring in order to have an open space for the boxing round. Players are given 60 seconds to take a rest or think of strategies in between rounds.

A match can end if a player is able to knock out a player during a boxing round, if the boxing round ends with a technical knockout, or if the player is able to perform a checkmate on his or her opponent in the chess round. In addition, the match also ends if one player is unable to comply with the tournament’s time control, or if he or she is disqualified due to inactivity or illegal moves. A player may also give up on any round if he or she wishes to do so. If there are no winners for all rounds, the match will then be decided via a decision by the judges. Whoever scored the most points in the boxing rounds wins the match.


Chess boxing was invented in 2003 by IepeRubingh, a Dutch performance artist who came up with the idea of combining a cerebral game like chess to a physical game like boxing. Rubingh thought about how ridiculous it is to combine two sports or disciplines that are totally unrelated to each other. However, the idea of combing the two sports originated from a 1992 comic strip written and drawn by Enki Bilai for the FroidÉquateur graphic novel. In the comic book, the chess boxing match is first played in consecutive boxing rounds before moving on to the chess rounds. Rubingh found this gameplay mechanic to be quite impractical, so he decided to alternate the rounds of chess and boxing. Rubingh then competed in the first-ever world championship for chess boxing in 2003, defeating Jean Louis Veenstra to become the first world champion. Originally meant to be a piece of performance art for Rubingh, chess boxing eventually became a legitimate sport in 2004 when the Chess Boxing Club Berlin was created.

The first European Chess Boxing Championship was held on October 1, 2005, in Berlin. The winner of the title card for that tournament was Andreas Dilschneider, who defeated his opponent TihomirAtanassov in the 7th round after Atanassov resigned or gave up. Interestingly, Dilschneider is currently a commentator for the European Chess Boxing Championship.

Today, chess boxing is played not only in Germany but also in other countries like England and Italy. Despite its popularity in Europe, chess boxing is still not yet gaining traction in the United States., even though there is already an organization called USA Chessboxing that is handling most of the chess boxing events in the country. Nonetheless, chess boxing is still one of the most popular sports in Europe, thanks to the efforts of the World Chess Boxing Organization, who has been promoting the sport endlessly since 2003. Besides the WCBO, there are also other associations who are organizing chess boxing tournaments around the world, and some of those include China Chessboxing (CBCN), the Chess Boxing Organization of India (CBOI), and the Italian Chess Boxing Federation (FISP).

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