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Chess Boxing: Think on your feet!

Photo by Simon Elgood

Photo by Simon Elgood

I was surfing the web looking for tips on kickboxing form and somehow ended up finding out about a hybrid sport called chess boxing! How did I not know about this before?!

This game combines chess and boxing, making it the ultimate test of brains and brawn!

What a cool idea – combining a physical sport with an intellectual game. But really, is there a very strong dichotomy? Maybe not! They are both games of strategic offense and defense.

In chess boxing, you use quick thinking to block a punch and knock out a queen!


It was brought to life by Dutch performance artist, Iepe Rubingh, who was inspired by a French graphic novel.

Iepe’s fighting name is “Iepe the Joker”.

As a performance artist, Rubingh blocked off intersections in Berlin and Tokyo to create major traffic congestion!

The World Chess Boxing Organization (WCBO) oversees the sport, and its motto is, “Fighting is done in the ring, and wars are waged on the board.”


A match is made up of alternating rounds – 6 of chess and 5 of boxing. The match begins with a four-minute chess round. This is followed by three minutes of boxing.

They play “speed chess” where each player gets a total of only 12 minutes of chess per match!

Photo by Sascha Pohflepp

Photo by Sascha Pohflepp

You can win by:

    1. Knocking out the other player in the ring
    2. Getting a checkmate in chess
    3. By the judge’s decision
    4. If your opponent exceeds the 12 minutes of chess time allowed.

Players wear headphones during the chess portion to block out the shouted assistance from the crowd. Imagine playing a game where one minute they’re shouting, “Knock him out!” and the next minute, “White Bc4!”


Here is a video of Iepe the Joker vs Luis the Lawyer at the first Chess Boxing World Championship ever, at Paradiso, Amsterdam in 2003!

Chess boxing in the US

The sport was born in Europe, but the first ever North American chess boxing fight happened in Los Angeles, California in February 2010 between Andrew “The Fightin’ Philanthropist” McGregor and Austria’s David “King Kong” Pfeifer. McGregor won by checkmate in the 5th round.

Games in the US require headgear for safety, which they hope will attract more women to the sport.

Look for tournaments near you!

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Steve Jobs had a high school GPA of 2.65.