Chiefs Drue Tranquill Intercepts BlitzChampsII Victory with a Dramatic Queen Sacrifice

Chiefs Drue Tranquill Intercepts BlitzChampsII Victory with a Dramatic Queen Sacrifice


Once again, the Kansas City Chiefs secured a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. This time, the win was on the chessboard, not the field. In a dramatic final, between Bengal’s cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and Chiefs linebacker Drue Tranquill, the latter won the match 1.5-0.5. Tranquill became the BlitzChamps II champion, dethroning Awuzie, who won the inaugural BlitzChamps event last year.

Chess and football fans need not wait much longer for another BlitzChamps—BlitzChamps: Michigan goes down on Wednesday, June 28, at 3:00 p.m. ET / 19:00 CEST.

See what happened:

Live broadcast of BlitzChamps II, hosted by IM Danny Rensch, former offensive lineman and MIT mathematician John Urschel, and NFL Media’s first analytics expert, Cynthia Frelund.

The NFL players who competed today are no strangers to blitz.

A blitz is a type of play in American football where the defense sends more attackers to rush the quarterback than the offense has blockers, giving the quarterback a chance to throw a long pass if he can survive the attack. Similar to a gambit, a blitz is a high-risk decision that can easily backfire, or lead a team to victory. Today, the players had to use similar decision-making skills to conquer a different type of blitz, and fight to win $25,000 for their charity. 

Quarterfinals: Awuzie-Murray 2-1

After a brutal first-round loss (Urschel referred to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyle Murray’s position as “Swiss cheese,” due to all the holes), Murray was hungry for revenge against BlitzChamps 2022 winner and Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.

Despite an impressive second game, Awuzie mated Murray with two queens, sending the Cardinals quarterback to the consolation bracket. 

Consolation Bracket

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day is the ferocity and strength with which Murray fought on the board. An underdog in the competition, Murray sought to redeem himself in the Consolation Bracket. 

Round 1: Murray-Armstead 2-0

Murray defeated Armstead in both matches. His coaching with GM Eric Hansen of the popular Twitch channel Chessbrah paid off as he made it to the finals of the Consolation Bracket.

Can you find the mate in 2 to finish the game? White to move and win.

However, Murray met his match, losing both games (and consequentially the match) to Jets guard Wes Schweitzer. Schweitzer may not have won the Championship Bracket, but his victory secured him $10k for his charity. 

Championship Bracket

Semifinal 1: Awuzie-Fitzgerald Jr. 2-0

Awuzie was determined to defend his Blitzchamps title, but first he would have to defeat legendary football star Larry Fitzgerald Jr.

The first game ended suddenly after Fitzgerald blundered a rook. In the second game, Awuzie managed to score a victory in a complex position filled with tactics. 

Semifinal 2: Surratt-Tranquill 0.5-1.5

The linebackers went head to head in the Semifinals. Jets linebacker Chazz Surratt was saved from an impending checkmate after Tranquill blundered a stalemate up a queen. 

Tranquill took the second game, securing his spot in the Final. Although Surratt wasn’t able to recover in this match, he later defeated Fitzgerald in their match for third place. 

Final: Tranquill-Awuzie 1.5-0.5

The final was anyone’s game. On paper, Tranquill was the favorite, with a rating 100 points higher than his opponent. That being said, Awuzie had the experience and the motivation to retain his title, and he was also playing great chess. 

In a dramatic first game, Tranquill sacrificed his queen for a back rank mate, which he considered to be “the move of the day” in the post-match interview.

Awuzie needed a win in the second game to even the score. With under a minute on the clock, Tranquill managed to secure a draw, claiming both the match and the title of NFL’s best chess player. 

After the match, Tranquill said: “I’m so excited just to be a part of this. I’ve never really played in a chess tournament at all. I have just enjoyed playing chess throughout my time at the NFL… so this was so cool to get out here and raise some money for charity.”

The two finalists share thoughts at the end of the broadcast.

Standings, Results, and Prizes

BlitzChamps II (BC2) brings together eight NFL stars to compete in a series of rapid chess games. The event is a single-elimination bracket featuring a $100,000 charitable prize fund.

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