London Grand Prix/Chessboxing

Saturday was a busy day when Gawain and I went to visit two chess events in London. The next day we were meant to go with his Aunt to see the Chess exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery but completely forgot and unfortunately that finishes tomorrow. You can check out a review on Chessvibes where the players from the Grand Prix spent some of their rest days.

We dropped into the event towards the end and when most players had finished. Anish Giri was the last game to finish and promptly after that we convinced him to come along to the London Chessboxing event. Before we left Simpson’s I managed to get a couple of snaps (I’m shy).

Chessboxing was  different to what I thought it’d be. It was held in a Central London nightclub and full of people of both sexes. We missed the first bout between two females but when we arrived while waiting for the next fight we got to see a talented (and very flexible) hulla hooper. The first bout we watched and the chess shocked us all! With me was 5 GMs and countless club players and though the chess quality wasn’t high we were pleasantly surprised with the last bout! This bout was decided by TKO which meant it ended abruptly, I think the guy was losing in the chess too.

The last round feature Andy “The Rock” Costello who has an English grading of about 120 against Gianluca “Il Dottore” Sirci,. Chess wise he managed to outplay his opponent and won his queen for a piece but then Gianluca fought back and managed to win the exchange. With the chess finished up came the boxing and we knew that Gianluca had to go all out and yes he did. I was scared but then it all finished so quickly we were back onto the chess. We thought Andy might have to face another round in the ring but it wans’t so. Gianluca played very well a Queen for Rook down but then blundered his rooks and resigned.

Commentary was fantastic and done by IM Malcolm Pein. There was a few hiccups from the arbiters side (letting black start once! and nearly giving a player two moves in a row after the break) but overall the event went very smoothly.

The best bit of the night was seeing how engaged everyone was about the chess. After the chessboxing event, we had IM Lorin D’Costa (Coach of Joshua Altman who beat Luke McShane) play against various players known to me and from the general public. One guy beat him with knight odds which I found quite impressive (EDIT: From a reliable source (Lorin himself  I’ve been told that he didn’t lose to anyone that night even if it looked like he did, I’m now confused as I’m sure we were starring at a position on the screen… oh well) . After the blitz which included GM Stuart Conquest in a 1 minute blitz game against GM Matthew Sadler, both live abroad, Stuart in Spain and Matthew in the Netherlands but were visiting London at the right moment and both decided on a spot of chess. Watch the game on the link Conquest Vs. Sadler. I believe the score was 1-0.
After all the chessboxing and blitz chess we headed upstairs to the bar to see all the people who dissapeared below playing it out on the chessboards that were set up all around the bar. Some of the positions were a bit perculiar but hey, they seemed so keen! A fantastic idea and I hope it catches on with the general public.
 Overall a good night and something you should check out for a bit of fun.