Is Chess a Sport?


(Artwork/Hannah Park ’24)

Vivann Khanna and Caleb Willner

Chess is a game that requires planning, fast thinking, skillful positioning, and years of experience to master, but should it be considered a sport? To settle this debate, we must first define what a sport ist. states that “a sport is an athletic activity requiring physical prowess and a competitive nature to succeed in.” We asked chess players in the PDS community to share their personal definition of a sport.  When asked what defines a sport, freshman Henry Bobbitt, a 900-rated chess player, said, “What defines a sport is two things: first, a human can be better at it than another human, and, second, it can be played on a competitive level.” On the other hand, junior Winston Ni, a 2200-rated chess player, commented, “A sport is a competition with winners and losers that requires physical coordination and activity.” Both Bobbitt and Ni’s answers indicate that, even among chess players, there is some debate about whether or not sports have to involve physical activity.

Chess is not a sport for the same reason Ni gave: a sport has to have a physical aspect to it. Additionally, coordination and athletic ability play a major role in sports as well; unfortunately, under these criteria, chess does not meet the definition of sport. In fact, the International Olympic Committee, who supports, supervises, and monitors the Olympics, has agreed with this opinion, stating that chess is a mind sport, which they define as “a competition with a set of rules for determining the winner, requiring intellectual prowess and skill.” This definition does not allow chess to stand with other athletic activities under the categorization of being a sport. Taking into consideration the opinions of chess players themselves and internationally accepted definitions of sports, it is clear that we cannot define chess as a sport, However, it is important to note that chess could be considered by some to be a “mind sport,” but its lack of a physical aspect makes it uniquely different from most other sporting activities.