on Sports
Chess Boxing a Reality by Stan Silliman


Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman
Chess Boxing a Reality

      I’m pumped. Chessboxing 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/Gary Kasparov Boxing/Chess Match. It didn’t happen then… but I’m glad we have readers in Germany… because the European Championship of Chessboxing is coming up (okay, so there’s less than a few dozen participants in all of chessboxing 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.
Chessboxing a Reality by Stan Silliman
    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 chessboxer will be a grandmaster and a professional boxer. Armed conflicts will one day be decided by chessboxing.”

    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 chessplayer. 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 chessboxers 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 a way 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.
    This is coming to the USA in 2007.  I couldn’t be more proud.


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