What Is Chess Boxing?

There are lots of unusual and nonconventional sports out there, and one of the most obscure might just be chess boxing.

What Is Chess Boxing

If you have never heard of chess boxing before, then you are in for a wild ride as you learn what it actually is! 

Chess boxing is pretty much what it sounds like- a mix between both chess and boxing. If you are wondering how this sport works, then you have come to the right place!

In this article, we are going to go over some of the basics of chess boxing so you can have a better understanding of this unusual sport. 

Read on to learn a bit more about chess boxing! 

What Is Chess Boxing? 

Chess boxing is almost exactly what it sounds like- a combination or hybrid of both chess and boxing.

Specifically, it is a combination of speed chess and boxing and players alternate between both activities per round until a winner is declared. 

The object of chess boxing is, of course, to beat your opponent, but you can beat them at either a round of chess or a round of boxing. 

The first instance of chess boxing was actually in a comic called Le Froid Eqateur, which translates to ‘Cold Equator’, by Enki Bilal.

Chess boxing sounds like a bit of a made-up sport on the surface, but as you look into it more, you will find that there is a whole community of chess boxing pros and enthusiasts, and the matches can be incredibly interesting (and a little bizarre!) to watch. 

How To Play Chess Boxing

Chess boxing involves playing a round of speed chess and then a round of boxing. The first round starts with a four-minute round of speed chess and if one of the players beats the other one, then they win the game.

If no one wins the speed chess round though, they then move on to a round of boxing for three minutes. Once the boxing round is over, both players take a one-minute break. 

This is repeated 10 more times and there is never more than a total of 11 rounds. To get points toward their final score, players are judged and awarded points for each boxing match round. 

If either player wins any of the speed chess rounds, they will win, and if they instead knock out their opponent in one of the boxing matches, that will automatically make them the winner too.

If players don’t win the speed chess rounds nor do they knock their opponent out during the boxing rounds, then their points will be tallied at the end of the 11 rounds and whoever has the most points will win the overall match. 

On the surface, it sounds like it would be quite hard to follow, but you would be surprised by how easy it is to keep up when you are watching or judging a chess boxing match!

They can be incredibly fun and entertaining to watch. 

Where Is Chess Boxing Played? 

What Is Chess Boxing

Most people haven’t heard of chess boxing before and if you are one of those people, you might be wondering where it is actually played.

While it’s not as popular in the US yet, you will find most chess boxing is played and held in countries such as Germany, India, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

Chess boxing has been quite popular for a very long time. In 2003, the World Chess Boxing Organization (WCBO) was formed, and it has been growing in popularity and size ever since.

The World Chess Boxing organization aims to promote chess boxing as a legitimate and recognized sport and they aim to take it as internationally recognized as possible. 

To play chess boxing professionally, you need to be quite skilled in both boxing and chess, specifically, speed chess.

Lots of people believe that you only need to be proficient in boxing, but speed chess is by no means easy to play and it requires strategy and skill. 

If you do want to play chess boxing, the World Chess Boxing Organization has put a rule in place that requires all participants to have a minimum ELO rating of 1,800.

This is how the WCBO makes sure that all matches are fair and evenly matched. 

Players with an ELO rating of 1,000 are considered to be beginners, while players with an ELO rating over 2,400 are considered to be masters. 

What Is Speed Chess? 

Everyone knows what chess is, but most people don’t know what makes speed chess different.

As the name would suggest, speed chess is a type of chess where each player has a limited amount of time to make a move.

Usually, the chessboard will have clocks on them to keep track of this time limit and each player will press the clock when their turn is completed. 

If players exceed their time limit then they lose, so it can be quite a challenge to play speed chess, and even more of a challenge to play it well.

It is designed to put players under pressure and make quick judgments and strategy calls in order to beat their opponent, while also keeping an eye on their own time. 

Standard chess doesn’t come with a time limit and is designed to be a lot slower and more thought out.

Speed chess made more sense to incorporate into chess boxing because the whole match is very fast and it keeps the whole game more entertaining. 


Chess boxing is definitely an obscure and unusual sport, but if you look into it and watch some matches for yourself, you will find that it is actually incredibly entertaining and fun. 

Chess boxing requires both skill and stamina, and you need an ELO rating of 1,800 in order to be able to play it in legitimately recognized tournaments and matches.

If you want to know more about chess boxing, have a deeper look into it. You never know- you might just find your new favorite sport to watch and play! 

Jenna Ostria
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