by Naqib Qazi
A night of drama unfolded on Saturday night as International Chessboxing took centre stage at the Scala in London’s Kings Cross.
A boisterous crowd was treated to an evening of cabaret, pomp and sheer chessboxing excitement. The event saw top-class talent from across the globe, pit their might and wit against each other in a night of incident and controversy that will live long in the memory with four bouts that pushed the boundaries of mental and physical prowess to the limit.
Brown (left) establishes and early advantage
The encounter between Singapore’s Bryan Woon and Yorkshire’s Ricky Brown was the pick of the bunch – a battle that left the Scala crowd gasping in disbelief. The boxing rounds between these two gladiators were action-packed but evenly matched throughout and the winner was always going to emerge from the rounds of chess – or so it seemed.
Woon seeks an opening
Both competitors established an early defensive strategy but by round 5, the clock was ticking against Brown with the Yorkshire man having less then 4 minutes on the clock versus Woon’s precious 7 minutes. However despite the superior time difference, Brown looked to have ground out an advantage which the Singaporean did well to resist.
Then in round 7, Woon began to take control, regaining a queen, as he put Brown on the back foot. The Singaporean was now in complete command and with his eyes fixed on glory he seemed certain to secure an incredible checkmate win. But at the last moment, calamity! With scant material on the board Brown found himself with no legal moves and not being in check, the referee called for the game to finish in a stalemate.
The Scala crowd looked on in amazement at what they had just witnessed, Woon somehow scraping a draw from the clutches of victory. It was however the most appropriate of outcomes – the entire contest, boxing included, was a well fought out game of strategic chess. There was no clear winner in the majority of the rounds as each man countered and probed waiting for the other to slip up.
So whilst both combatants will no-doubt be disappointed with the result from a personal perspective nobody deserved to lose a contest that will be remembered long after Saturday night, and that will go down in the annals of chessboxing history.
Tim Woolgar, founder of London Chessboxing said : “ It was an superb effort from both fighters and I hope to persuade Ricky and Bryan to come back for a rematch next year. The Wild Bulls show was an incredible night with four great bouts encapsulating everything the sport is about. We had great boxing and some great chess and above all we had a superb atmosphere with the crowd really getting involved and adding their voice to the proceedings.
“Chessboxing combines serious sport with a seriously entertaining night out. You have to see to believe and once you’ve been to one night of chessboxing you’ll be hooked for good!”
The critical moment: Ouch (right) finds the right move to defeat Tim Woolgar in an high-class game
Chessboxing returns to the Scala later this year on December 14th.
Fulls results from “The Wild Bulls”:
Karl Ouch V Tim Woolgar: Winner, Ouch by checkmate.
Ricky Brown Vs Bryan Woon: Draw.
Shem Lopez Vs Steve Philp: Winner, Lopez by TKO.
Richard Frazer Vs Jorge Crespo: Winner, Frazer by checkmate.
George Crespo (left) looks on as Richard Frazer wreaks destruction among the white pieces