A battle of wits and lungs at the World Diving Chess Championship

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For a chess championship, the attire is a bit unusual: everyone wears a bathing suit and goggles. And chess clocks are replaced by how long you can hold your breath at the World Diving Chess Championships in London. Diving chess is like normal chess but played underwater with magnetic pieces. Each player must hold their breath while performing their move. Once they’ve taken to the air, it’s their opponent’s turn. For four hours on Sunday August 14, 10 players dove and strategize at the pool of the Leonardo Royal Hotel, London. “I thought it would be child’s play, but it’s definitely not,” said player Zarein Dolab. “Trying to see the plays, sustaining there is a lot more difficult, especially if you’re playing a long game.” The winner was 33-year-old Michal Mazurkiewicz of Poland, who beat South African Alain Dekker in their last game. Speaking of the skills needed, Mazurkiewicz said: “I think 60% is chess and 40% is like the other skills – swimming, keeping control of your body, pressure and breathing.” This unusual championship is the brainchild of American Etan Ilfeld, who wanted to incorporate a physical element to make the game even more challenging. Ilfeld, who now lives in England, started playing chess at the age of 4 and is a master chess player. (Reuters)

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