“The gong saved me”, novice Tim Arby wins his first chessboxing title thanks to… chess

Waking up this Sunday, Tim Arby looks at himself in the mirror of his bathroom and sees the damage: a beautiful blue-violet cockade that takes half the turn of his eye. “Fortunately, it didn’t show yesterday during the trophy presentation,” laughs the 39-year-old engineer afterwards. For his first big chessboxing fight, the Ile-de-France player did quite well. He even became French champion in his category (under 80 kilos) this Saturday at Cabaret Sauvage, thanks to a well-executed strategy.

This required getting rid of a compatriot of Kosovo origin, Xhemshid Vogliqi. Less strong in boxing, Tim Arby imposed his superiority in the rounds of chess, in this sport – chessboxing – in full expansion which alternately mixes the two disciplines, invented thirty years ago and which brought together several hundred enthusiastic spectators not far from the Zenith at La Villette. The decision came on the 7th recovery. Checkmate. Implacable.

“I had suffered in each round of boxing, explains the one who has been pushing the pawns since he was 7 years old. I managed to hold on by touching it every once in a while, but it was starting to get difficult. So I felt compelled to attack in my domain. Stronger in failure on paper than his opponent (1957 pts against 1743 in the ELO ranking), Arby develops an unstoppable strategy. “I knew that I would finish in three moves but for that it was necessary to hold the last three minutes of boxing. I hung on, it seemed super long and then the gong saved me. The end of Calvary! »

The boxing part, on the other hand, was much more difficult. (DR/Yann Castanier)

The applied math engineer, specializing in statistics, admits he had the advantage of competing almost at home: “It helped me to hear (during boxing since the competitors wear a helmet to concentrate during chess) the encouragement of my friends and the guys in my club. In the afternoon, I was also interviewed by several journalists and even a streamer. I’m not used to it and strangely, it gave me the confidence to resist. »

After a first round almost three years ago, chessboxing has therefore experienced a new surge in popularity. “We had an incredible evening yesterday (Saturday), is satisfied Guillaume Salançon, the organizer of the IFC (Intellectual Fight Club) and President of the Federation of Chessboxing France. The 600 people who crowded into the Cabaret Sauvage to enjoy the show felt it. We saw in their eyes that we were turning a corner, they understood that it was a real sport and not just a fad. You can see the difference with the first edition. The fighting was even more intense, with high stakes.

Reinvigorated by this title, Tim Arby feels his wings growing: “It’s above all symbolic but I nevertheless ask myself the question of going higher, with why not a European or even world championship. Enki Bilal (the famous designer is the creator of this sport) warmly congratulated me after my fight, it’s encouraging even if I was a little stunned! I haven’t decided yet but I’m tempted…” Unless he challenges his title, next February 3, for the 3rd IFC evening which will once again be at the Cabaret Sauvage.

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