Several posts ago, I mentioned some of the crazy 'sports' that one could now follow on tv.
I'm not sure if this latest one will ever make it onto Sky Sports or ESPN or even the hallowed portals of the BBC but, as America is involved, I'm sure it will one day.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Chess Boxing !!
When I heard of this, I admit that images of 2 muscle bound and soon to be brain dead men trying to knock 7 bells out of each other with huge inflatable chess pieces came to mind. That might have been quite amusing in a sort of "It's a Knockout" sort of way. For once that old TV show title might have made some sense. Throw in Stewart Hall as the referee and I think we'd have a ratings winner.
Anyway Chess Boxing isn't like that. Oh no, it's much more serious.
We have the 2 muscle bound men of course. They come in under the ropes and glare at each other in traditional fashion. They pull on the ring ropes and bounce up and down to get themselves psyched up for the contest ahead. But there are no boxing gloves, no gum shields. Not at this point anyway.
The bell goes for round 1 and the boxers sprint from their respective corners and...........putting on headphones, sit down at a chess table set up in the middle of the ring. WTF ???
After 4 minutes of playing chess, the round ends and they have a one minute rest. I'm sure the sweat must be pouring off them by now as those Ruy Lopez and Sicilian Defence moves can be so exhausting.
Ding Ding.........Round 2.......and this time they come out in more traditional fashion complete with gloves and gum shields and try and knock the bejesus out of each other for 3 minutes.
End of Round 2.........Round 3 is back to the chess. Probably best if I quote the official rules from the relevant WCBO section :
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.
Ok, are we all with it now ?? I'm not sure I am. The way I read that last bit is that if the chess game is a draw and the boxing bit is a draw, then someone could become world champion just because they played with the black chess pieces. That seems a little unfair to me.
Yesterday the Light-Heavyweight World Championship took place in front of 1200 enthusiastic fans in the storage depot of a club in Germany. It was Germany v The USA and local favourite, Frank "Anti Terror" Stoldt, defeated American David "Double D" Depto after a checkmate in the 7th round.
By all accounts it was a grueling match but the person or persons I feel sorry for are the ones who have to nip into the ring between the boxing rounds to set up and then remove the chess table, board and pieces. How does that work ? They must be lifted over the ropes but what if a piece gets moved or falls off the board ? Chaos would ensue with burley aides getting involved and cries of 'cheat' and 'fixed' coming from the masses.
"Ok sorry lads. Fred's elbow nudged one of those little horse guys and we donno where it should go. I know it's round 9 but I guess we'll have to start again. Never mind, eh."
I think even Stewart Hall would struggle to get out of that ring in one piece.