The Sport of Chess Boxing Rules

The Sport of Chess Boxing Rules


Perhaps one of the most odd sports out there, chess boxing is a match of both brains and brawn. This sport was invented in 1992 by cartoonist Enki Bilal, but a formal match didn’t take place until 2003. Now, the WCBO has a worldwide fan base, with fighters competing out of China, India, Iran, Italy, Russia, Germany, Mexico, Turkey, and the U.S.


How to Chess Box


On the surface, chess boxing indeed looks like a sporadically made up sport. But when diving deeper into the thought process of Bilal, he states that his intention was to crush the stereotypes that boxers can’t be smart, and that chess players can’t be tough.


The object of this sport is either beat your opponent in the ring or on the chess board. Like a any boxing match, fighters will wear wraps and 16 oz gloves when competing. For protection, they’ll also wear mouthguards.


Rules of Chess Boxing


  • To ensure a fair fight, fighters must compete within their respective weight classes: Lightweight (less than 155 lb), Middleweight (between 155 and 176 lb), Light Heavyweight (between 176 and 198 lb), and Heavyweight (higher than 198 lb).
  • Each match consists of six rounds of chess and five rounds of boxing. Each round is three minutes long.
  • The match will start with a round of chess. Fighters are required to wear sound-deadening headphones during chess rounds to block out potential help from the audience. Each fighter will only have nine minutes on the clock.
  • If a fighter is seen stalling during a chess round, the judge will intervene and allow that player to make a move within 10 seconds.
  • To qualify, a fighter must achieve a minimum chess ranking of 1800, or Class A. This is the ranking right below expert.
  • A fighter can win by knockout, checkmate, judge’s decision, exceeding the chess time limit, or by forfeit.


In 2013, Enki Bilal created a series of chess boxing paintings. As a strong supporter of chess boxing, he invested one of his major artworks to provide financing for the sport. His piece was eventually auctioned by Artcurial on the Champs Elysees in Paris, and was eventually sold for 174,000 euros, or over $210,000!







Written by: Devin Pickell

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