By Myriam Dijck
After having one of the most exciting years in chessboxing so far, 2013 was concluded with a worthy season climax chessboxing spectacle. The crowd was as keen as ever to see some of their favourite fighters enter the ring and take on the chessboxing challenge. Here are all the highlights of the night in Scala and the blow-by-blow results.
After a swinging warm up from Count Indigo, the night kicked off with a fight between Jorge ‘Huggy Bear” Crespo and Nick ‘Showstopper” Cornish. The stats of both fighters showed a close match-up on paper, but in the fight it became clear they employed quite different tactics.
Crespo, being strong on the board, opened aggressively attacking Cornish with his rooks. The next round, in the boxing, Cornish gained the slight upper hand by landing some heavy shots and punishing Crespo with a more measured attack. Back to the chessboard, Crespo failed to cut through Cornish’ defence and started to lose valuable minutes on the clock.
Next round, Cornish managed to control the centre of the ring and while Crespo was lagging behind in the board, he wasn’t able to make up for it in the ring. In the next round of chess, Cornish upped his pace, going for the attack, but Crespo kept his defence strong, picking off his opponent’s pieces one by one. Cornish’ queen, who had been standing unused in the corner, finally came in action. Crespo was not only threatened by Cornish’ moves, he was also running out of time.
Back in the ring, Crespo needed to go all out to secure a win, but Cornish – who was still doing the cleaner work – never looked threatened by him. Back on the board, Crespo’s time was against him. As Cornish was mounting several bold offences, Crespo’s chess became increasingly desperate with many of his pieces locked in behind a line of pawns. Crespo’s time was quickly ticking away and as his clock hit, zero he lost the bout. Winner Cornish, improved his record to 3-2. Despite showing an improved jab and some better head movement, Crespo suffered a 3rd consecutive loss and he will have to go back to the drawing board to snap his losing streak.
With only one fight under his belt and an Elo rating of 1300, Richard ‘The Razor” Frazer had much to make up for against his veteran opponent Tim “CSI” Bendfeldt. The German, with an Elo of over 2100 went into the game with a comfortable winning record of 4 wins, 2 losses.
In round one, Frazer took the upper hand. Despite Bendfeldt’s chess experience, he quickly lost two key pieces, including a bishop. In the ring, during the next round, Frazer was confidently taking the upper hand over Bendfeldt who was struggling with his footwork, getting peppered with shots and often found his back against the ropes.
Back on the board, Bendfeldt built up a comfortable time advantage to over 2 minutes. While he was building up a solid defence, it looked like he was also trying to run out Frazer’s clock. The next round, Frazer went back to maintaining the boxing edge, landing strong right hands, again pushing Bendfeldt against the ropes. Bendfeldt appeared to be playing a style of rope-a-dope, staying on the defensive, trying to avoid Frazer’s shots.
In the following chess round, Bendfeldt quickly secured the initiative and checked Frazer’s king. Frazer desperately tried to counter Bendfeldt’s trap but Bendfeldt moved in for the final blow and check mated his opponent with one last manoeuvre. Frazer lost on the board in round 5.
After a spectacular intermezzo of entertainment with the hoola hoop girls, the night moved on to evening’s main event. Popular newcomer James “The Chelsea Chainsaw” Pope was matched up with chess virtuoso Karl “The Hustler” Ouch with twice Pope’s Elo rating. Ouch, born in France started his game with a frantic pace and forced an early check. His attack was blocked however by Pope who rapidly found himself falling behind on the clock against his opponents swift pace.
In the ring, Pope was adamant to make up for the shortcomings on the board, and opened with high volume punches. In his haste, Pope throws a shot to the back of Ouch’s head and is warned by the referee. Ouch, who is now doing the cleaner work and landing the better shots, quickly adapted to Pope’s explosive tactics. In the excitement, Pope appeared to land an illegal head but, prompting a second warning from the ref in one round.
Back on the board, Pope looked indecisive and was both behind in time and chess pieces. With bold attacking moves, Pope began to dominate the board, but appeared to be losing his pieces. Back to the ring, Pope started opening up with some heavy shots, forcing Ouch up the ropes. Pope was just laying on the leather, beating his opponent to the punch as Ouch tried to keep range and survive the round.
During the following chess round, both fighters looked exhausted from their fast paced boxing. Ouch was far ahead on the board, and had a significant time advantage and appeared to be running out his opponent’s clock. Pope, with all his pieces stuck in the corner managed to ward off some of Ouch’s attacks. With only 27 seconds on the clock, he just survived the round and it was clear he would be looking for a knock out to take the win.
The fighters both opened with brief exchanges and repeated clinching. The frantic pace of the last round and their aggressive styles quickly began to show on their faces, however Ouch – likely sensing victory on the board, began to open up and landed the heavier and faster shots against an exhausted Pope. The round ended, without a finish, and Pope knew he was about to lose on time. Ouch was trying for a final check mate, but it was the clock that ran out first. Ouch won by time penalty in round seven. Despite his loss, Pope made a strong debut and looked elated after his first chessboxing fight and a thrilling finale.
Overview of the results from “International Chessboxing – Season’s Climax”
George Crespo Vs Nick Cornish. Winner – Cornish, Time Penalty
Richard Frazer Vs Tim Bendfeldt – Winner: Bendfeldt, Checkmate
Karl Ouch Vs James Pope – Winner: Ouch, Checkmate