While you may not have the image of someone who plays chess as some kind of jock in high school, in fact maybe the opposite, perhaps you should consider that chess is actually a sport. There are no balls or baskets or nets set up in chess, however many people around the world have the opinion that chess is actually a type of sport, in fact, even the International Olympic Committee is of the opinion that chess is a sport.

So how exactly is chess considered a sport?

For loads of people, it can be quite a confusing concept. While chess may not require cheerleaders for a match it can be considered a sport for a few different reasons. Firstly we should talk about what is a sport?

The sport requires physical exertion and it is a competition between two people, by that alone chess can be considered a sport. There are also many levels to this as well. All sports require coaching and some level of strategy. By that logic, chess is much more a sport in some different ways than even baseball or other sports of that nature.

Chess requires an enormous amount of strategy. It is a game that is full of theory, strategy, and while it may not be as physically strenuous as soccer, for example, it is definitely mentally draining and challenging.

While if you play chess or are interested in starting to play chess you may not be seen by everyone as a jock you can consider yourself as something of an athlete as you are playing a sport.

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Chess Requires Strategy and Training

Two men playing chess
To be great at chess you will need to practice a lot. Source: Pexels

Like many sports, chess is a game of strategy and practice. If you are just playing with friends from time to time there of course is no need to practice different strategies and ideas. The same goes for other sports, if you play a friendly game of basketball, there is no need to practice. Just like these sports, there are professionals and tournaments in chess and your opponent could possibly be well trained.

After one player moves, there are over 400 possible board setups that could happen. Therefore chess requires a lot of training and practice to master the game as much as you possibly can so you can have as much of an edge on your opponent as you possibly can. It requires many, many hours of practice and studying to become good at chess, and to become a chess master many more.

When you look at pro sports such as basketball, baseball, or football are they really that different. Strategies and practice are extremely important when a game or tournament is approaching in sports that you play with a ball.

Is Chess really that different?

Chess requires the development of strategies and techniques that one would also need with other sports. You can also say thanks to the development of these strategies and techniques, chess can also be seen as a science or even a form of art.

Chess is a Game that has Rules

Many games have rules, such as board games. Chess is no different in that aspect. However, there is a big difference with chess compared to other board games and more similar with organized sports. The rules of chess are internationally recognized just as sports like golf and tennis are internationally recognized.

There is also an etiquette associated with playing chess competitively. Most sports have a type of etiquette, in judo and karate, there is a bow before the match, same with soccer where the norm is the two teams shake hands and come out with mascots (children dressed in the team jersey).

In chess, there is also a form of etiquette that two chess competitors must shank hands before a chess match. Also, there is an etiquette of not storming off if you lose. If you lose you must try and lose gracefully, throwing the board for example is a big no-no.

These etiquettes can be seen in other sports as well. Being sportsmanlike is extremely important in any sport you must know how to play, win, and lose gracefully, as to always respect the game and your opponent.

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Chess Requires you to Work Physically

Chess is seen as the ultimate mental game. Chess masters are usually seen as geniuses and have amazing memories and mental abilities. All of this is pretty true. Your mind is not the only thing that works as a chess player. You use your mind a lot in chess but you also need to use your body and exert some physical energy.

While you of course move your arm to pick up a chess piece and move it, chess is much more physically taxing because of the mental stress that a game of chess causes to your body. It is not also important to train your mind whenever you can, but also your body. Chess masters know it is also important to keep your body as fresh as your mind.

Chess matches at a competitive level can last easily for an hour or more. If you are out of shape, sitting and being concentrated and analyzing at a high level can leave you exhausted physically. Being in shape is important it will make the hard work your mind is doing easier on your body.

There are many former chess players that resembled athletes who played tennis or other sports, in that sense chess can be seen as a sport.

Is Chess a Competitive Game?

Man lifting chess piece on a board
Chess is an extremely competitive sport. Source: Pexels

This is not the most compelling argument for saying chess is a sport, however, chess can be extremely competitive. As mentioned earlier to win tournaments and go on to be a true chess master, one requires lots of strategy and training. Therefore when someone plays chess to win a prize the same way a tennis player would or a basketball team would it can be extremely competitive.

Of course, there can also be tournaments of board games, however, chess has other factors that come into, the ones we mentioned before. Chess requires much more strategy, mental and physical strength as well, which makes it more competitive.

There are three types of chess tournaments.

  • Round Robin
  • Swiss System
  • Match

Swiss System

The Swiss system is set up as a bracket-style where the best-ranked player is put against the lowest-ranked player. The tournament continues this way. Usually, these tournaments are played on the weekends and last five or six rounds.

Round Robin

Round Robin tournaments are designed so that everyone plays against every other player at the tournament. Round Robin tournaments normally determine national and international champions of chess.

Match

While a match competition isn't a tournament like the other two forms of competition, it can still be done and it involves a rating system. Two players play against each other for a pre-determined number of games. This system usually is how world champions of chess are crowned.

There are many competitions in many sports, there are not board games that offer the same amount of competition. Chess is also one of the few sports played worldwide. You can find chess players in every corner of the world, therefore you can find competition all over the world. Sports like basketball and football are not found in many countries around the world like chess is, even if it is not the most popular sport in a certain country or other.

So Finally, is Chess a Sport?

Is chess a sport? That can depend on a certain person's point of view. There are those that will refute that chess is a sport, however, there are international sporting organizations that say chess is in fact a sport. The International Olympic Committee declares chess to be a sport, therefore it can be internationally recognized as a sport.

Chess is a very competitive game that can be seen as an art, science, and sport. The game of chess is highly competitive and requires mental and physical strength. To compete at a high level and become a chess champion whether locally, nationally, or even internationally you will need to practice and develop many different strategies.

You can use Superprof if you are a chess player looking to practice and improve or a novice just starting out. Having a personal chess teacher from Superprof can improve your games a lot thanks to the highly-rated trainers the website has to offer.

Through practice and training, it is possible to master this very difficult and strenuous game.

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Chris