Challenge (competition)

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A challenge is a request made to the holder of a competitive title for a match between champion and challenger, the winner of which will acquire or retain the title. In some cases the champion has the right to refuse a challenge; in others, this results in forfeiting the title. The challenge system derives from duelling and its code of honour.[1]

While many competitive sports use some form of tournament to determine champions, a challenge match is the normal way of deciding professional boxing titles and the World Chess Championship. Some racket sports clubs have a reigning champion who may be challenged by any other club member; a ladder tournament extends the challenge concept to all players, not just the reigning champion. At elite-level competition, there is usually some governing body which authorises and regulates challenges, such as FIDE in chess. In some cases there is a challengers' tournament, the winner of which gains the right to play the challenge round against the reigning champion; in tennis this was the case at Wimbledon until 1922 and in the Davis Cup until 1972.[2] The FA Cup's official name remains the "Football Association Challenge Cup", although not since its second season in 1873 has the reigning champion received a bye to the final. The Stanley Cup, as specified by its donor Lord Stanley in 1892, would be yielded by the holders losing either their regular-season league or a challenge from another league's champion.[3] Such challenges occurred from 1893 until 1914, when interleague competition became standardised.[3] The America's Cup is contested according to the terms of its 1887 deed of gift between yachts representing the champion yacht club and a challenging club. Since 1970, the usual practice, by mutual consent, is for an initial formal "challenger of record" replaced by the actual challenger after a qualifying tournament.[4] However, in 1988 and 2010 there were court cases arising from non-consensual challenges. The World Snooker Championship was contested via intermittent challenge matches between 1964 and 1968, when no commercial sponsor could be found for a scheduled tournament.

When the champion dies or otherwise vacates the title, a tournament among leading contenders may be used to crown a new champion prior to the resumption of challenges.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gorn, Elliott J. (Fall 1986). "John L. Sullivan: 'The champion of all champions'". The Virginia Quarterly Review. 62 (4): 614.
  2. ^ Grasso, John (2011-09-16). Historical Dictionary of Tennis. Scarecrow Press. p. 60. ISBN 9780810872370. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b Diamond, Dan; Zweig, Eric; Duplacey, James (2003). The Ultimate Prize: The Stanley Cup. Andrews McMeel Publishing. pp. 11–24. ISBN 0-7407-3830-5.
  4. ^ "America's Cup - A Brief History of the Challenger of Record 1970-2017 - from CupInfo". CupInfo. Retrieved 13 November 2015.