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NFL Stars And Legends Line Up for BlitzChamps III: Who Will Be The League’s New Chess MVP?

NFL Stars And Legends Line Up for BlitzChamps III: Who Will Be The League’s New Chess MVP?

Leon_Watson
| 13 | Chess.com News

The hardest hitting event in chess is back: the mighty BlitzChamps, which pits NFL superstars against each other to find football’s top chess player.

BlitzChamps III kicks off on May 22 with $100,000 at stake for charity, and that all-important title of BlitzChamp for 2024.

NFL Films will be documenting this year’s tournament, and will feature BlitzChamps III and its players, past and present, as part of their NFL Films Presents series airing this season on NFL Network and FS1.

Greg Smith, NFL Films Senior Producer, shared his excitement: “The explosion of chess into the NFL is truly a phenomenon, thanks largely to the incredible work of Chess.com.

"They’ve made chess accessible to everyone, everywhere, any time, and are innovative in their approaches to reaching new players. NFL Films is thrilled to be hosting BlitzChamps III.

"The tourney field is stacked with great personalities, legends of football, and some very solid chess players! Danny Rensch, John Urschel, and Cynthia Frelund are a first-class broadcasting team that provide insightful and entertaining commentary.

"Documenting intense competition and turning it into cinematic drama is what we do. Our NFL Films Presents special, airing this fall, will showcase the fascination with chess in NFL locker rooms, provide a dramatic re-telling of the NFL’s Chess Super Bowl, aka BlitzChamps, and detail the story of how Danny Rensch and team built a juggernaut company that could rival Andy Reid’s Chiefs."

Who Will Win BlitzChamps III? This edition of BlitzChamps boasts an impressive lineup featuring two Super Bowl LVIII champions, NFL legends, and rising stars eager to claim the title of football's top chess player.

Drue Tranquill, the 28-year-old Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, returns to defend the BlitzChamps title he won last year against cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, who is also competing this year.

In Super Bowl LVIII this year, Tranquill recorded two tackles in the Chiefs 25–22 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Can he win back his chess crown too?

Tranquill will be joined by his teammate and Justin Reid, who also starred for his team recording nine tackles and 0.5 sacks to win the trophy for a second time. We can reveal Reid has been getting coaching from FM James Canty III in preparation for this event.

NFL legend Larry Fitzgerald Jr. is widely considered one of the greatest wide receivers of all time. However, the longtime chess aficionado is still chasing his first BlitzChamps title after losing to Awuzie in the semifinals of BlitzChamps 2022 and 2023.

Meanwhile, Awuzie will be gunning to win back the title he won two years ago against his longtime Dallas Cowboys chess rival and current Cleveland Browns wide receiver, Amari Cooper. Awuzie also has his own bot on Chess.com, which anyone can play against.

Michael Vick, another legend of the game, played 13 seasons in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, and Pittsburgh Steelers. He will be making his BlitzChamps debut this year.

Vick isn’t the only dual-threat quarterback competing this year. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is back again having given us some exciting moments last time around. GM Eric Hansen has been lined up as his coach.

Mack Hollins, the 30-year-old newly-signed Buffalo Bills wide receiver and Super Bowl LII champion with the Philadelphia Eagles, is new to BlitzChamps.

Fans may remember Hollins had the honor of making the ceremonial first move in the penultimate round of the FIDE Candidates event in Toronto last month—so he may have got some tips. Hollins is also getting training from GM Aman Hambleton.

Quenton Nelson, the 28-year-old guard who played college football at Notre Dame alongside Tranquill, is a wildcard entry. The three-time first-team All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowl left guard is top of his game on the football field, but his chess strength remains to be seen.

All matches in BlitzChamps III will be best-of-two. After the first round, the double-elimination tournament will be split into a winners bracket (5+0) and a losers bracket (3+0). Tiebreaks will be a 3+0 sudden death.

The winner will get $30,000 to donate to their charity of choice, with a further $70,000 of charity cash divided amongst the rest of the field.

Chess.com’s Chief Chess Officer IM Danny Rensch will commentate with former Baltimore Ravens offensive linesman John Urschel and the NFL Network’s Cynthia Frelund reporting on the event. Our commentators will be analyzing play together live from the NFL Films studios in New Jersey.

Expect plenty of big plays, stunning comebacks, incredible strategy, and dazzling tactics. Who will get their game plan right?

Find out on May 22 at 12 p.m. PT / 3:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the live broadcast of the event on Chess.com/TV or on Chess.com's Twitch and YouTube channels.

Leon_Watson
Leon Watson

Leon is an award-winning former national newspaper journalist now working for Chess.com, having previously been chess24 and Chessable. His main mission is to spread the word about chess, but he is also a keen league player and secretary of Battersea Chess Club in London. In his previous career as a reporter/editor, Leon worked for The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, and The Sun, breaking many chess stories as well as writing general news and features. As an ex-hack, Leon is still always on the hunt for a good chess tale.


Contact him at leon.watson@chess.com.

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