Brains and brawn: Chess boxing comes to London

Crush your opponent on the chessboard, then sock him in the jaw - it’s chess boxing

Chess and boxing may seem like an unusual combination – one is dependent on brain power, the other is a quick way to deplete brain cells.

But despite this, a sport merging the two, ingeniously named chess boxing, is taking off in the City of London.

A full match consists of eleven rounds alternating between chess and boxing - six rounds of chess, each three minutes long, and five rounds of boxing.

The format was devised by south London brothers James and Stewart Robinson, and has proved popular with people who want to exercise both their brains and their brawn.

Notwithstanding their obvious differences, the two sports do share some common ground, with mental strategy, decision making, brutality and risk being essential elements in both.

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Speaking to the BBC, Tim Wulfgar, the president of the World Chess Boxing Association said that “the two sports have a great deal in common”.

“They attract a similar type of mentality”, he said, “people who enjoy the thrill of the combat.”

Wulfgar said that since a new chess boxing base opened in the City of London, events “have attracted quite a few people from the banking and finance sectors”.

“People in the City like to think that they’re tough and can fight, but also like to think that they’re intelligent as well,” he added.

Ukrainian former world champion boxer turned politician, Vitali Klitschko, and his brother Wladimir Klitschko, also a former world champion boxer, are both avid chess players and friends with former world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik.

Vitali Klitschko, who retired from boxing this year and is now a strong contender in the 2015 Ukrainian presidential race, was the first professional boxing world champion to hold a PhD degree.

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Speaking about the two sports, Klitschko once commented: “Chess is similar to boxing. You need to develop a strategy, and you need to think two or three steps ahead about what your opponent is doing. You have to be smart. But what’s the difference between chess and boxing? In chess, nobody is an expert, but everybody plays. In boxing everybody is an expert, but nobody fights.”

The first chess grandmaster took part in chess boxing in 2012, when Arik Braun won an event in Berlin.

The current chess boxing world champion is Russian Nikolay Sazhin.

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