Chess: 'It's as bad as a few rounds in a boxing ring'

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The Independent Online

The International Chess Federation (Fide), has 155 member countries and is an associate member of the International Olympic Committee.

Chess has the status of a sport in many of the individual member countries. This may seem odd, but a game may last six or seven hours, during which the levels of stress on the body are considerable. Your heartbeat remains high throughout and the effect has been compared to several rounds of boxing. When I played my second World Championship Candidates match with Nigel Short in London in 1991 (he won), he lost more than half a stone in little more than a week.

In some countries chess is classified as a mind sport - the German is Denksport - and there is an annual international "Mind Sports Olympiad". While reclassification as a sport would be ideal, a new official category of Mind Sport would be a very sensible compromise. What is deplorable is the current state of affairs in which this highly international, very popular and extremely physically demanding activity falls between two stools, being neither sport nor "culture".

English chess grandmaster Jonathan Speelman has won the British Chess Championships on three occasions and is a regular member of the English Chess Olympiad team