Which Olympic Sport Is Most Like Chess?

Which Olympic Sport Is Most Like Chess?

| 133 | Fun & Trivia

The 2016 Summer Olympics are underway right now in Brazil as 207 national delegations compete for medals in 28 sports, 41 different disciplines, and 306 total events.

Unfortunately for chess fans, the royal game is not among them. And don’t get your hopes up for the 2020 Tokyo games; while chess was on a list of 20 new sports being considered for the next Olympics, it didn’t make the cut.

Chess fans will have to make do, then, with the existing Olympic sports. But which one is most like chess?

Our rankings are below. Let us know which sport you think is most like chess in the comments.

5. Archery

The comparison between chess and archery is right on target. Both are primarily individual pursuits, and even the team events have similar formats. Both sports depend on accuracy, precision, and timing, and the slightest error can leave you hopelessly out of contention.

Both chess and archery also enjoyed similar spotlights in U.S. popular culture, driven by celebrities. Bobby Fischer’s world championship brought chess into the limelight in the 1970s, and Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of the bow-wielding Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games series briefly made archery more popular in the U.S. than ever before.

4. Weightlifting

The big similarly here is that in chess as in weightlifting, the time you put in to train largely determines your result. There might be a little bit of luck and adrenaline involved at the highest levels of competition, but the real gold medals are won weeks ahead of time with practice and improvement.

Just like a weightlifter strives to get a little better every day, so should you as a chess player. That’s why we have tools like the opening explorer and the tactics trainer here on

3. Boxing

Chess and boxing are so similar that they have even been combined into a hybrid sport, chessboxing. But even without putting a chessboard in the ring, you can understand how chess is like boxing with the mind.

Boxing analysts say that styles make fights, and the same is true in chess. While a professional in either sport will take apart an amateur without a problem, at the highest levels it’s up to both competitors to determine how much risk they want to take, and how spectacular the match will be.

2. Fencing

Fencing, much like chess, faces off two fighters in simulated battle. Fencers must master attacks, counterattacks, parries, defense, and mobility — themes all too familiar to any serious chess player.

It’s probably for the best, though, that chess players lack access to swords.

1. Tennis

The importance of geometry, the accumulation of small advantages, the control of space, and the initiative — are we talking about chess, or tennis?

Tennis might make you a lot sweatier than a nice game of chess, but the way to win in each game is virtually identical. Tennis combines deep strategy with the immediate tactical concerns of every shot, just like chess blends long-term plans with the implications of every half-move on the board.

Many top chess players, like Hikaru Nakamura, play decent tennis, and Roger Federer — widely considered the best tennis player of all time — is an accomplished chess player.

Which Olympic sports do you think are most like chess?

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