Left punch to E5: The Art of Chess-Boxing

We Dutchmen have brought a lot of things into this world (got fire hoses? Yeah, thought so…). Being a small country and growing up in a world where every neighbor wants to conquer or enslave you made us a resourceful bunch, with a list of innovations including but not limited to instruments of war (got submarine snorkels? Oh wait, that doesn’t sound cool at all…). Ever since Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek McGayvered himself a fancy microscope, daring the Royal Society to look at an extreme close-up of his unsavory mini-troopers (no, seriously!), we’ve been conjuring up new shit like nobody’s business.

So much for the inventing part (just kidding, there’s at least two dozen more articles worth of material right there). Sometimes genius is not so much about creating entirely new things, because sometimes you simply have to look at what is already there and force it to marry each other. This is harder than it might seem. Though it should not make sense, fact is that combining two things that are awesome by themselves often result in abominable Chimeras. Put some whipped cream on a pizza and you’ll see what I mean. For convenience sake, we can call this “1 + 1 = 0 principle”, but sometimes, there’s a road out of this conundrum, a road paved by a wooden-shoe wearing, weed smoking, tulip chewing liberal.

Enter chess-boxing. To be honest, we cannot take full credit for this one, because the first recorded instance of chess-boxing has the scent of garlic buttered baguette around it, being invented by the French comic artist Enki Bilal. His 1992 comic Froid Équateur (‘Cold Equator’) is known for being two things: science-fictiony and all about chess-boxing.


My brain is still undecided over whether or not this is awesome or embarrassing.

Every single thing in this world had its origin in a mind, waiting to be materialized, and the midwife of chess-boxing proved to be the Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh, who organized the very first official match in 2003. The rules are very straight forward: six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing alternate each other until victory is achieved by either a check-mate, a knock-out, or a time-out (each player is given no more than twelve minutes for all his/her chess moves). Rubingh took it on himself to cash in his own creation and became the first chess-boxing champion in history (victory by time-out). Ever since, chess-boxing has become a big boy, and it’s all thanks to one crazy performance artist who looked at a sci-fi comic and said to himself: “I could totally do that shit!”


Chess-boxing synthesizes the three most important truths in life: keep your guard up, see through your opponents’ strategy, and WU-TANG CLAN AIN’T NUTHIN’ TO FUCK WITH!


Though in all fairness, he was probably just looking for an excuse to satisfy that high school urge to see chess players getting punched in the face.


Frank Kool
Frank Kool
Born and raised in Holland, spent his time procrastinating and studying Psychology and Philosophy. Frank harbors a special interest in weird social phenomena (which are ALL social phenomenon if you think about them long enough).



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