Berlin Mitte, Gormannstrasse, training at the Chess Boxing Club Berlin, the first chess boxing club in the world. In a gym with a boxing ring and sandbags dangling from the ceiling, the chess boxing training group stands at several tables on which there are chess boards with figures and clocks. The athletes wear typical sportswear and boxing bandages on their hands. Among them is Josef Galert from the association’s board. He says, “Chess boxing is the ultimate mix between the number one martial art boxing and the number one brain game, chess.” For the Berlin lecturer, this combination is incredibly attractive if you’ve only tried it once.
From Berlin out into the world
This is exactly what more and more people around the world have, currently there are several national associations such as in the USA, Russia, Great Britain, Italy, Iran and India, the world’s largest association with over 400 members. The inventor of this sport is the now deceased Dutch action artist Iepe Rubingh. In 2003 Rubingh organized the first exhibition match in chess boxing in Berlin. At that time he was inspired by the French comic “Froid Equateur”. In the same year, the first world championship fight took place in Amsterdam under the flag of the “World Chess Boxing Organization” (WCBO), which had recently been founded in the German capital.
A year later, the Dutchman founded the “Chess Boxing Club Berlin” on the Spree, the world’s first chess boxing club. Today, a black and white drawing by the world champion Rubingh hangs between some trophies in the rooms of the Berlin club, whose founder will not be forgotten. Board member Josef Galert remembers: “Iepe has been to Iran, India, the USA, Finland, France, Italy, he has promoted the sport all over the world.”
“Hit as fast as an arrow and rapid pulling”
Alina Rath is Galert’s teammate and world champion in chess boxing. In 2019, the coach defeated the Indian Janhavi Cavhen in the final in Antalya, Turkey. “I was just lucky back then and won in the first round of chess,” says Rath. Her opponent at the time had big problems with the rules of chess and threw in the towel after only nine moves. Something like that couldn’t happen to the Berlin world champion, after all, Alina Rath was German champion in blitz chess in 2010.
Chess boxing rules
The rules of chess boxing are pretty simple: three minutes of chess, followed by a minute of rest, followed by three minutes of boxing. A duel lasts eleven rounds, six of which are played in chess and five in boxing. The competition always begins and ends with the brain teaser. In the Berlin club, the focus is not on victory at any price. “It’s about physical and mental fitness, about controlling the adrenaline in pressure situations, about lightning-fast hitting and rapid pulling” – so it says on the homepage [chessboxingberlin.de]. Alina Rath trains her protégés five times a week, three times it’s boxing, twice chess boxing. “The more balanced the group, the easier it is to train. Then you have a skill level that you have to be prepared for,” explains the world champion.
Highlight of the World Cup at the beginning of December
The club members do not play pure chess together in the practice rooms; the athletes do this on their own, together or alone on the computer. And anyone who enjoys beating is also wrong when it comes to chess boxing, you can read on the Chess Boxing Club Berlin website: “For some athletes it is also about training for a chess boxing match. Others just want to stay fit and theirs Use the pear. Nobody is forced to sparring, we have enough sandbags hanging in the hall. “
All eyes in the world of chess boxing are currently on the upcoming World Cup in Sicily at the beginning of December. After a year of Corona break, not only the team from the Chess Boxing Club Berlin is preparing intensively for the highlight of the season. The team would like to represent Berlin as the cradle of chess boxing.
Broadcast: rbb UM6, 01.11.2021, 6 p.m.
Stand: 02.11.2021, 17:28