Chessboxing, A Sport Where Competitors Alternate Between Playing Chess & Boxing Each Other

Chessboxing” is a real activity, an actual sport, where contestants both (surprise!) play chess and box with each other. The World Chess Boxing Organisation (WCBO) is the international governing organization for the sport.

Chessboxers go through alternating four-minute long rounds of chess and three-minute boxing rounds with a one-minute break in between. A maximum total of 11 rounds are fought out—six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing. The fight begins with a round of chess. Each player has a respite of 12 minutes during the game of chess, which means the maximum duration of the whole chess game is 24 minutes. A K.O. or checkmate can lead to an early win, and the fight can also be cut short if a player exceeds the chess time limit or the referee decides the fight has to be aborted. If the game of chess ends with a tie, it is settled with the points earned in the boxing rounds. If the boxing fight ends with a tie, the player who had black on the chessboard wins.

World Chess Boxing Organisation

The sport has its origin in a 1992 comic book by Yugoslavia-born French author Enki Bilal. Froid Équateur (French for “Cold Equator”) was the final installment of his Nikopol Trilogy, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi graphic novel series which was made into a movie and a video game.


The real life sport began in 2003, and the first world championship match was held in Amsterdam in November that year. Nowadays there are Chessboxing matches, clubs and championships across Europe and Russia. Even FIDE, the World Chess Federation, indirectly recognized the sport when they posted video of the Federation’s President participating in a chessboxing match (though his opponent doesn’t seem to thrown many punches).

Personally I’ve long been hoping for more weird hybrid sports events. The Decathalon is old news, of course, as boring as breakfast cereal. The Triathlon (consisting of swimming, cycling, and running) is straight-forward and well established.

But it’s the winter Biathalon (rifle shooting & cross country skiing) and the modern pentathlon (combining pistol shooting, épée fencing, freestyle swimming, show jumping, and cross-country running), both Olympic events, that start to approach the kind of thing I have in mind. I’m sure they makes sense to someone (but hey, so does curling, to someone), but for me these are harbingers of an absurdist bizzaro future that may never be.

Now with Chessboxing, we are one step closer. Float like a butterfly, sting like a rook. I for one await our motorcycling / paddleball-playing / knife-juggling / Connect Four-master overlords with remote control at the ready.


Actor, nerd, poet, producer, writer mikl-em made his name short so you wouldn't have to. In addition to his blog you can find his writing in "Hi Fructose" magazine and witness him almost life-sized in various plays at The Dark Room Theater in SF's Mission district.

He tends to write about theater, humor, San Francisco culture and history, and stuff that's just plain weird. He thanks Scott for sharing the keys to the Laughing Squid virtual HQ and promises to uphold whatever it is that the mirthful cephalopod would prefer to be uplifted.