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Reid Emerges As NFL's Top Chess Player
Kansas City Chiefs safety Justin Reid blitzed the 2024 lineup.

Reid Emerges As NFL's Top Chess Player

JackRodgers
| 19 | Chess Event Coverage

Kansas City Chiefs' safety Justin Reid was crowned the winner of BlitzChamps III after sweeping Cardinals' quarterback Kyler Murray 2-0 in the Grand Final of an eight-player double-elimination bracket on Wednesday. Outplaying BlitzChamps I winner Chidobe Awuzie en route to the title, Reid showed that the NFL is taking their chess up a notch.

For his victory, Reid won $30,000 for his charity of choice, JReid Indeed, and put on a tactical masterclass for fans tuning into the event. BlitzChamps III was broadcast live from the NFL studio which was turned Chess.com green for the day.

Standings, Results, and Prizes


Brains vs. Brawn, physical fitness vs. mental fortitude, and talk vs. action form the pillars of sports' most ambitious crossover, BlitzChamps, and the third edition of the event was a spectacle to behold. With eight of the NFL's top chess players duking it out over the board for glory, gold, and bragging rights, it came as no surprise that the event featured many highlights. 

The studio setup had ESPN written all over it.

The pre-tournament favorites were the season I and II winners, Awuzie and Drue Tranquill, but shockingly, both players were relegated to the Loser's Bracket after falling to their first-round opponents. Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson announced himself as a contender after convincingly beating Tranquill in both games, the first of which was a fine example of the Caro-Kann Defense.

Awuzie's match with Reid was a tighter affair, but the BlitzChamps I champion was unable to defend against a brutal kingside onslaught in the sudden-death tiebreaker, leading commentator and IM Danny Rensch to tout Reid as the new tournament favorite. 

Also winning their quarterfinal matchups were Buffalo Bills wide receiver Mack Hollins and Kyler Murray, who swept aside legendary NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald Jr. and Michael Vick, respectively.

Fitzgerald's "flow state" wasn't enough to stifle Hollins.

Murray's unbeaten run continued in the Winner's Semifinals as he dispatched Nelson 2-0, courtesy of a pair of classy conversions. In the first game, Murray made the most of a protected passed pawn, while in the second the quarterback unleashed a checkmate in two that involved a queen sacrifice.

Juxtaposing the other semifinal match, Reid vs. Hollins went down to the wire and required a sudden-death tiebreaker to separate the two. Proving to be the king of clutch, Reid managed to win a king and pawn ending and checkmate with 29 seconds left on the clock.

On paper, choosing a winner in the match between Reid and Murray would be like deciding what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, and after kicking off the match with a win each, the match was forced into overtime. For the third time in the tournament, Reid was able to snatch victory in the 3+0 tiebreaker after playing with a CAPS score over 90 and earned himself a spot in the Grand Final.

Credit where credit is due, both players fought hard in a Sicilian Defense.

The only thing left to decide was who would face Reid in the Grand Final and, for Hollins, wins over the defending champion Tranquill and Awuzie secured him a match with Murray for the remaining spot. In Hollins-Tranquill's third game, the wide receiver could count his lucky stars that the defending champion was left with insufficient time to checkmate with a queen and king.

Though Murray surged to win the Loser's Bracket and book his rematch with Reid, the Grand Final was a dominant display of everything Reid had learned from his coach, FM James Canty. The final game was an ode to the Sicilian Defense exponent and worthy of the crown.

Speaking to the commentary team after his win, Reid humbly proclaimed: "I'm a competitive guy, but it's not always about winning. This is awesome, but I just love getting better so I'll continue to challenge myself."

Reid has a champion's mindset and will undoubtedly be back to contest BlitzChamps IV.

The $30,000 Reid won for charity is also going to be in great hands as it will go to an organization that he founded, JReid InDeed, which "focuses on supporting disadvantaged youth and communities through interactive programs, community engagement, and technology access" according to the website.

How to watch BlitzChamps III
You can watch BlitzChamps III on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on Twitch and catch live broadcasts on YouTube. Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.

The live broadcast was hosted by IM Danny Rensch, former lineman, MIT mathematician John Urschel, and NFL Media's first analytics expert, Cynthia Frelund.

BlitzChamps III is the third chess and NFL crossover where NFL stars compete to see who rules the 64 squares. Participants played in an 8-player double-elimination bracket on Chess.com's servers until a winner was determined, each vying for part of the $100,000 prize fund to donate to charities of their choice.


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