Defending Chess Boxing
If you like to box and like to play chess (Klitschko brothers, anyone?) you'll be pleased to know the game I invented is still going strong in Europe.
And recent information makes me feel the game has more benefits than negatives.
I know what your thinking. You're saying, "Stan, how can getting your brains bashed in be conducive to better chess?"
Here's the answer, and don't spit on me, just hear me out.
You need exercise to counteract the high stress elements of chess. Studies have shown competitive chess to be as stressful as any intellectual activity you can undergo.
Think about it, again. You're sitting for hours and you have to make a pressure move with the clock ticking. Speed chess is worse. One wrong move and your board royalty is threatened.
If you have a chance to exercise, your stress levels drop. If you move your body around your blood flows better. Boxing is one of the best exercises you can do for short periods of time.
And getting in shape for boxing ranks up there with any sport.
Chess Boxing is a sport with two ways to win, in the ring and on the board. You get points for both. The sport is not as brutal as pure boxing (rounds and matches are shorter—there is less hitting to the head) and not as strenuously confining as Master's chess.
It's much more exciting to the fans.
When I first proposed a Mike Tyson-Garry Kasparov boxing chess match in 1990, I had no idea somebody might run with the idea. All I can say is I'm thankful to have readers in Europe.
When they were having matches in Germany, I was more than pleased and wrote an article on the sport in 2007.
Before we get to the article, think about this. How many world champion chess masters have gone off the deep end?
Bobby Fischer? Paranoia, agoraphobia, reclusive, holocaust denier. Polish grandmaster, Akiba Rubinstein? Anthropophobia, schizophrenia. Austrian William Steinitz, world's first undisputed chess champion, died in an asylum. Paul Morphy, finest player in the 1800s, paranoid, delusional.
Did you need more? We can list dozens, maybe several dozens, of chess champions with Asperger's.
There's a correlation between obsessive chess and insanity. Exercising during the game is the answer.
Boxing chess gives you the breaks. It allows you to reduce the mental stress while protecting yourself. Then it allows you to cool down from your boxing exertion by making moves on the board. All the while fans are applauding both your skills.
Here's the 2007 article:
Chess Boxing a Reality
I’m pumped. Chess boxing is finally here. It’s a sport in Germany and people are taking it seriously.
The duality of man has finally arrived: The cerebral and the physically courageous all wrapped up in one beautiful event. And to think, I first proposed such an event in a column back in 1990, February 8th to be exact, when I suggested the Mike Tyson/Garry Kasparov Boxing/Chess Match.
It didn’t happen then, but I’m glad we have readers in Germany, because the European Championship of Chess boxing is coming up (okay, so there’s less than a few dozen participants in all of chess boxing so far, but… but don’t rain on my parade.)
Here’s how it goes. Fans file into a theatre. On the stage is a boxing ring with curtains closing it off. In front of the ring are two guys crouching over a chessboard—in robes, mind you.
They make several strategic moves, then a bell rings, loud music comes on and these “cerebral athletes” take their robes off, climb into the ring and begin pummeling each other for two minutes. Then another bell rings, they climb out of the ring and into their chairs behind the chessboard for four minutes of chess, all the while the corner man is tending to their cuts and suggesting which way to move their bishops.
Are you pumped now? Can you see why I’m so excited? A guy can win either by knockout, checkmate, referee’s decision or if his opponent takes too long on the chessboard.
This may be the only sport where you have a trainer and a chess coach. The creator of the sport, Iepe Rubingh, (of course, we know who the true creator is), says “This sport combines elements of the complete man, one prepared for any event, not a pure brute, not a hapless nerd. The future chess boxer will be a grandmaster and a professional boxer. Armed conflicts will one day be decided by chess boxing.”
Ooooh. I didn’t realize my little Tyson/Kasparov proposal would one day determine world peace.
That may be too much of a burden. Hmmm. Does the Nobel committee consider suggestions in a column when naming nominations?
The European championship pits Frank Stoldt, a policeman from Berlin against a welder from Croatia, Zoran Mijatovic. Mijatovic is burly and Stoldt is lean. Stoldt has been a kickboxer as well as an avid chess player.
When welding on the Adraitic ship docks, Mijatovic often dreams of Latvian Gambits and right body crosses. “When I put up a Sicilian defense, I like to do it with a bit of sweat on my body,” he says.
The match went down this way: Both competitors opened at the board deliberately feeling each other out. The announcer gave a blow-by-blow description of all the chess moves as the audience was on the edges of their seats.
The chess boxers were dead even as the bell sounded, and they slipped on their gloves. The first round in the ring was similar to the play on the board, feeling each other out, not revealing strategies.
Oh man, can you feel the excitement? Back to the board: Zoran attacks Stoldt’s knight, but thwarted. No advantage is gained. You can cut the tension with a… a… sharp object.
Then it’s back to the ring and Mijatovic tries pounding into Stoldt’s body but to no avail, as Frank’s reach deflects all incoming and then punishes the Croat with several well placed shots to the ribs.
Then it’s back to the board where we see Zoran breathing hard and perplexed with Frank utterly composed. So composed he shocks Mijatovic in two straight moves and has him three moves away from checkmate.
There’s something about protecting your King when your ribs are screaming that is just so frustrating. And then the thought turns to the inevitable checkmate but just before that, let’s have a few smashes to the face. If I were Mijatovic, I would have turned my king over, too. Talk about exciting.
I hear it it is coming to the USA in 2007. I couldn’t be more proud.
Check out the videos and let me know if it actually did make it stateside or if anyone has been to a match.
Thanks. And if you enjoy chess boxing, you're welcome!
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