By Sean Waisglass: There it was in the weekend paper: a Reuters news agency photo of two boxers in the ring sitting on their stools. Both men were stripped to the waist and wearing standard-issue trunks, their hair wet with sweat. All the trappings of a typical bout were present plus one glaring and notable addition - a chess board placed between the two combatants.
Bishop to knight d5, left hook to chin... Move over WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO, there's a new sanctioning body in town - the WCBO: World Chess Boxing Organization.
The sport was devised by 31-year old Berlin-based Dutch Artist Iepe Rubingh, and features up to 11 alternating rounds of boxing and chess contested in the ring and on the checkered board. There are six four-minute rounds of fast-paced "bullet" chess and five two-minute rounds of boxing, with one-minute breaks between rounds. A bout can be won by checkmate or knockout, or by referee decision if the chess game ends in stalemate.
The fledgling organization crowned it's first European Heavyweight Champion on October 1st in front of 500 spectators in the sport's hometown of Berlin, Germany when Bulgarian Tihomir Titschko defeated Germany's Andreas Schneider. According to the WCBO website, with seconds left in the ninth - a chess round - Schneider was faced with certain defeat and resigned.
More chessboxing events are planned for 2006 in Europe, and the WCBO is presently seeking new competitors to join its ranks. No word yet whether former heavyweight champ and avid chess player Lennox Lewis might be more interested in coming out of retirement to challenge for Titschko's WCBO title rather than Klitschko's WBC version.
For more information peruse the organization's website at: http://www.wcbo.org/