Diving Chess in London

by Nadja Wittmann
9/12/2018 – There is another "World Championship" in London this year — the fourth edition of the "Diving Chess" World Championship took place on August 27th at the Third Space Gym in London. Four rounds decided the winners — FM Rajko Vujatovic took gold after scoring 3½/4, while Etan Ilfeld and William Taylor finished second and third on 3/4. In this curious chess variant, each player can think as long as he or she can hold their breath underwater. | Photo: Reuters

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Take a deep breath

The Mind Sports Olympiad (MSO) is an annual multi-disciplined competition that started in 1997. In the midst of competitions like the Pentamind and the Decamenthatlon, the Diving Chess World Championship finds its place every year since 2015. The rules are fairly simple, albeit with a twist. The game itself is a normal chess game, except it is played in a swimming pool... at the bottom!

This year's tournament was organised at the Third Space Gym in Soho, London. The English capital might be regarded as the epicentre of the chess world in the second semester of this year, as it will host the World Championship match and the final stage of the Grand Chess Tour. Although we cannot compare those events with the Diving Chess tournament, it is remarkable that England regards "mind games" — like chess — as something important.

The Diving Championship was broadcast by Reuters in Australia, Ukraine, United States, Israel, Philippines and, of course, Great Britain. It is worth mentioning that there was no women's tournament, as only one female player registered to play, Erika Orsagova. 

Rajko Vujatovic, a 2222-rated "regular chess" player, obtained his third straight gold medal after winning three games and drawing one. Etan Ilfeld (2188) and William Taylor (2089) tied in second place half a point behind the champion. 

Since the first edition, the organisers produced videos — which include underwater shots — of the Diving Championship. Let us present the last three ones in inverted chronological order. In this year's video, we can see the special magnetic boards that are used. The participants also talk about some of the difficulties this variant entails:

The competitors show how tired they finish their games in the 2017 video:

The video from 2016 includes an interview with Rajko Vujatovic and Etan Ilfeld:

Additional reporting by Antonio Pereira

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eric b eric b 9/12/2018 06:46
I'm not quite sure if I see the point behind these chess/physical endurance mashups. Just because they can, I suppose.
KrushonIrina KrushonIrina 9/12/2018 05:06
Future Olympic sport?

Don't hold your breath.
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