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Johnson Scores Final Touchdown In BlitzChamps Michigan

Johnson Scores Final Touchdown In BlitzChamps Michigan

JackRodgers
| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

The ambitious crossover between gridiron and chess continued on Wednesday with BlitzChamps: Michigan and was won by Wolverines wide receiver Cornelius Johnson after he swept the offensive lineman Ladarius Henderson in the champions final with a score of 3-0.

Tight end Zack Marshall played all the right moves to bag himself third place in the champions bracket while outside linebacker Tristan Bounds won the consolation final by a 2.5-0.5 margin.

Chess.com also announced a $10,000 donation to The Uniform Funding Foundation (TUFF) on behalf of the University of Michigan football team, which provides uniforms, equipment, and mentorship to underprivileged student-athletes.

How to watch BlitzChamps: Michigan
BlitzChamps: Michigan was broadcast live on Chess.com/TV and on our Twitch and YouTube channels.

The live broadcast was hosted by GM Robert Hess and IM Kassa Korley.

Bragging rights and a quest to become the best strategic brain among the University of Michigan athletes were on the line when eight football champions gathered in Ann Arbor for a single-elimination "waterfall" bracket on Wednesday. With first-to-three, 5+0 matches deciding who would progress in the champions bracket, time management skills were always going to be paramount in this event.

Dale Chesson desperately looks for quick moves to avoid getting flagged against Henderson. Image: Chess.com Youtube.

Among the participants was Johnson, who, having been struck down by injury in eighth grade, found a passion for chess while playing against his professors and middle school teachers. Though his rating was far from the highest in the field (597), Johnson was able to scoop up quarterfinal and semifinal wins against Bounds and Marshall respectively.

Although he was able to win his matches by healthy margins, 3-1 and 3-0, his games were not without drama and the wide receiver ran into trouble in his second game against Bounds, which was over in just 10 moves!

With the attitude of a professional athlete, Johnson was able to turn things around quickly, and shortly after he played his cleanest game of the day, constricting Marshall and maintaining his advantage for the entirety of the clash.

In the winners bracket final Johnson played Henderson, who progressed through undefeated with two 3-0 scores against Dale Chesson and Donovan Edwards. The showdown between the two players started with a bang as Johnson unleashed one of the two brilliant moves of the day, which led to a destructive fork on Henderson's king and rook. See if you can find the move below...

Henderson fought on after a tough first game but was unable to crack Johnson, who had truly found his mojo by the time the finals match came around. A checkmate on the 41st move of the third game would seal with the crown for Johnson who pointed to the roof and exclaimed "Let's go"! 

Unhappy with his runner-up finish, Henderson jokingly called out none other than former GM Magnus Carlsen for a match, stating: "I think we should really have a moment where you guys (Chess.com) organize a game between me and Magnus so I can take him down. Tell Magnus that Ladarius Henderson is coming for his Elo."

In a confident statement to commentators Hess and Korley, Henderson said he would "Fried Liver" (referencing the opening) Magnus. Image: Chess.com Youtube.

With a surge of interest in chess among sportspeople and several successful crossover events with American Football players in recent times, there will no doubt be more opportunities for the greatest minds in sport to try their hand at the ultimate game of strategy in the name of charity in 2023. 

The $10,000 donated by Chess.com to TUFF will go a long way in terms of supporting struggling youth and for those interested in what TUFF do, check out their mission video from earlier in the year.

Standings

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BlitzChamps: Michigan is an online blitz chess competition between eight football players from the University of Michigan. All participants gathered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to play together on Chess.com's server.


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