Some of you may have heard of the “increasingly popular” mixed sport of Chessboxing. This typically involves two contestants alternating between rounds of chess and boxing, supposedly requiring both the mental skills to play chess and the physical skills to box.
I contend that this sport is not nearly interesting enough, on the following points:
- Chess may be mentally taxing. However it is not as mentally taxing as many other tasks. If the point of having chess in chessboxing is to demonstrate mental prowess, then you could do a lot better.
- Boxing is a rather restrictive physical contact sport when compared to many other more brutal sports such as Tae Kwan Do. If the point of having boxing in chessboxing is for spectator appreciation, you could be a lot more bloody.
- The combination of chess and boxing does not really highlight the true appeal of this type of sport mixing. For this we must go to extremes.
Sudoku is a numbers puzzle in which numbers 1-9 are laid out on a 9×9 grid such that any sum of any row, column, or one of the 9 component 3×3 grid squares sum to 45, with each number used once in its row, column, or component squares. The puzzle starts out lacking the majority of the numbers, with a starting set of numbers that one must, through logical deduction, reason to a complete puzzle. This, much like crosswords, is a highly mentally taxing task with the advantage of having few rules that are easily and universally understood across languages. Unlike chess, there is no historical bias with arbitrary point values nor openings to memorize. It is a standalone abstract piece of cognitive stress test.
Combine this with the bloody possibilities of knife-fighting, and you’ve got one hell of a sport.
A game would run as follows. Two opponents start out each with an identical new sudoku. There are two knives available. At the start of the round, each participant must complete the sudoku as quickly as possible. Once complete, the sudoku puzzle is checked for correctness. If it is verified to be correct, that participant is allowed to wield a knife for 20 seconds, during which he or she may attempt to inflict as much physical harm as possible in order to prevent the opponent from completing his/her own sudoku. However, the opponent is allowed to dodge while trying to complete the sudoku. Once the 20 seconds is over, the participant is given a new sudoku puzzle to solve, and cannot wield the knife until it is solved.
This places a higher pressure to perform a mentally challenging task correctly and quickly for fear of massive exsanguination at the hand of the opponent. Meanwhile, it also encourages strategic play, as being the first to wield a knife may not be the best course of action. A participant may withold from submitting a completed sudoku until the opponent has done so, dodge the opponent for a duration of time, submit the sudoku, and gain access to the knife after the opponent has lost his and is forced to contend with a new sudoku.
In addition, the loss of fingers can significantly impare the ability to physically complete a sudoku.