Student Life at International School Bangkok


Student Life at International School Bangkok


Student Life at International School Bangkok


Is Chess a Sport? ISB Students May Not Think So, But It Is

Kaichen (Kevin) Xia
ISB Chess Club advisor Alex Hemmerich

Chess, a board game dating back to the early 6th century, received classification as a sport from the International Olympic Committee nearly 25 years ago. This has led to much controversy surrounding the topic, with many arguing that it is a game — but not a sport. This perspective is supported by a survey conducted by British Chess Magazine, showing that  80% of respondents from the UK and the U.S. do not regard chess as a sport. This conflict between the public view and the IOC’s stance has led to widespread discussion and controversy. 

An ISB game in progress (Kaichen (Kevin) Xia)

Because ISB is a school with a Chess Club that also competes in IASAS chess competitions, we decided to ask Middle and High School students at ISB what they think. Of 381 responses, 63.8% said they believe that chess is not a sport because it does not require physical exertion but requires more mental strategy. Only 24.7% of students who responded said they believe chess is a sport, but their arguments are far more compelling than the majority’s. As said before, the International Olympic Committee officially recognizes chess, and over 100 countries on earth have committed to the notion that chess is a sport, which gives it a level of legitimacy. 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, sport is an “activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Many believe that chess is the game of the mind and does not require any physical exertion and therefore should be considered a game, not a sport. 

But while ISB Chess Club advisor Alex Hemmerich says a standard game is an hour and a half long, he adds that “games can easily go for like three or four hours. An actual game could be even six to seven hours.” That would certainly require some physical and mental stamina. 

“Chess not only requires physical exertion but is also an activity in which one must compete with others for entertainment, ultimately fitting all the requirements of a sport, according to the dictionary,” says freshman ISB Chess Club member Ian Hong. 

Junior Joseph Fifield challenges a peer (Kaichen (Kevin) Xia)

Sophomore Tony Limthongthang disagrees. “Chess is just a game,” he says. “Wwimming and badminton would be an example of sport because it requires you to use your muscles extensively.” 

Many who advocate for classifying chess as a sport highlight that it demands physical and mental exercise. As Mr. Hemmerich notes, chess matches can extend up to seven or eight hours, demanding significant endurance and concentration from the players. A remarkable example is the 1989 match between Ivan Nikolic and Goran Arsovic in Belgrade, which stretched over 20 hours, comprised 269 moves, and ended in a draw. This record game underscores the intense endurance and focus required, supporting the argument that chess requires physical exertion, which would help define it as a sport.

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    RishabhMay 14, 2024 at 11:40 am

    yo where am I