The 5 Craziest Places to Play Chess
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Most chess players have found themselves lost deeply in a game, so consumed by the position on the board — or the tactics brewing in their heads — that they all but ignore their surroundings.
Sometimes, though, the urge to play chess is so strong, games will spring up in unusual places. Serious games have been played on tiny pocket sets in cars, trains, planes, and buses. Before the advent of laptops and smartphones, students would play “correspondence” games by passing notes in class.
While most of us have played chess in some unorthodox places, it’s safe to say that relatively few players have conducted games in truly crazy locations.
Let us know if any of you can top these crazy places to play our favorite game.
5. In a Boxing Ring
Chess boxing is a fascinating hybrid sport that combines combat of the mind and body into a single competitive event. Originally conceived in the 1970s, chess boxing experienced a renaissance in the early 2000s, and now chess boxing events are held regularly.
Chess boxing events have been held all over the world, including in Germany, the United States, Russia, Iceland, the Netherlands, India, and France.
Athletes alternate between chess and boxing rounds until the match ends, either over the board or in the ring. Since a chess boxing competition can be won either in the chess portion or the boxing portion, participants must be skilled in both disciplines to have a chance of winning.
Chess boxing matches can be won by checkmate, clock flagging, resignation, knockout, or stoppage by the referee (also known as a technical knockout). The only way to draw a chess boxing match is to achieve a draw over the board and an equal score from the boxing judges, as well.
Combatants must make at least one chess move per chess round, and must wear noise-blocking headphones to drown out shouted chess advice from the audience.
Some people may set up chess sets at the bottoms of their pools just to have fun, but serious chess has been played much deeper under much larger bodies of water.
A tourism initiative in Motril, Spain allows visitors to play a chess game deep underwater in full scuba gear, as seen here:
And in the tropical paradise of Curacao, two Dutch IMs — Hans Böhm and Robin Swinkels — played chess four meters below sea level, with “stingrays and fish as their spectators,” according to the unbelievable YouTube video:
3. Atop the Eiffel Tower
Chess.com member batgirl wrote about this amazing picture of a French chess player composing a chess puzzle 800 feet in the sky in 1921.
The player is identified as Monsieur Eduard Pape of Paris, vice president of the International Good Companion Chess Problem Club, and the photo was published in the American Chess Bulletin.
The ACB described Pape as “a mere pigmy alongside of the cloud-piercing heights we are so proud of, but quite high enough, thank you, to make the man of average nerve too dizzy to give thought to chess, much less to look pleasant and unconcerned,” and reported that he was working “on a two-move problem for the delight of solvers maybe yet unborn.”
2. In Space
The word “space” in chess usually means how many squares are under a player’s control. But this chess game has a different kind of space — outer space.
Canadian astronaut and chess enthusiast Greg Chamitoff played with grade-school students from all over Earth as he orbited the blue planet aboard the International Space Station in 2008.
Busy as he was with his astronaut duties, Chamitoff found the time to play one move per day of the ultimate form of correspondence chess with earthbound students, including the third-grade U.S. championship team.
1. On a Roller Coaster
How can you play chess aboard a moving roller coaster? The answer is simple: lots of glue.
Smuggling a chess board with glued-down pieces into amusement park rides has become something of an Internet meme in the last few years, as thrill seekers chase the ultimate prize — a souvenir photo of their contemplative chess game, taken just as their roller coaster car dives down a steep hill.
So how did this trend start?
It all began with a popular Web comic, XKCD:
From there, dozens of chess-playing readers of the comic tried to bring to life the cartoon's concept.
XKCD maintains a gallery of the best resulting photographs on its chess roller coaster page.
Let us know the most unusual place you've played chess in the comments.
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- Read Pete's previous article, 6 Things You Should Always Do in Blitz.
- If you can't play in outer space, do the next best thing. Watch IM Daniel Rensch's video on how to manage space.
- Check out some of our fun video lectures: IM Rensch and GM Finegold are two of our most popular authors.
- Have fun and learn at the same time with the Tactics Trainer.
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