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Underwater Chess Is a Thing & It's More Hardcore Than You'd Imagine

You're not allowed to come up for air until you've made your move.


Chess is already a challenging game of strategy and cunning. What if you also had to make your moves underwater? That's the strange concept behind the underwater chess championship.

Yes, underwater chess is a thing, and the latest champion just won in London.

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Perhaps needless to say, the underwater version of chess requires quick thinking. Players take turns jumping into a pool, where the chess board — with weighted pieces — sits at the bottom.

They're not allowed to come up for air until they've made their next move. No breathing apparatuses are allowed, either.

Some players use a weight to hold them down at the bottom while they consider their move.

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London resident Etan Ilfeld invented the game back in 2012, even designing the special magnetic board and pieces to make sure everything stayed in place underwater.

He had played chess for years in his native Israel and felt frustrated when people told him the game wasn't a "real sport." Well, this will certainly show them!

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The average person can hold their breath for just 30 seconds without gasping for air. At the same time, the Guiness Book of World Records holder lasted 24 minutes without taking an additional breath. Most people are not quite at that record-breaking level, though, so it makes sense that most games last only 30 to 40 minutes.

It sounds like ideally you would need a combination of skills to win: breath training and smart chess moves. We think you could go ahead and call regular competitive chess a sport, but with this addition, it definitely qualifies. This year's winner, Rajko Vujatovic, can tell that to all of his haters, if he feels like it.

So are there other underwater games? A quick search revealed some high school students playing underwater Monopoly, but with snorkeling equipment for breathing.

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That's pretty impressive, but we think underwater chess without breathing wins. Though if anyone pulls off underwater Dungeons and Dragons, please let us know!

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