Chess, Science, and Football

John Urschel of the Baltimore Ravens offensive line usually protects his quarterback.  On May 20th, at the Liberty Science Center’s (LSC) Genius Gala 5.0, he was found protecting his chess king.

An accomplished mathematician, he faced off against USA Chess Champion, Fabiano Caruana, in the first “LSC World Blitz Chess Title Bout.”  Urschel had a time advantage, getting 3-minutes against Caruana’s 2-minute time limit for the game result.  Urschel’s king was tackled over with Caruana’s clock still having 39- seconds to use.  Urschel’s clock showed 61- seconds.

In chess, weight doesn’t mean much.  Fabiano checked in at 5’7″, 125 lbs. and Urschel much bigger at 6’3″, 308 lbs.  But where Fabiano was lacking in size, he made up for with his 2870 USCF chess rating, third highest of all time, to John’s rating of 1601.

Both are active at the Liberty Science Center.  Fabiano serves as the visiting grandmaster and ambassador for the Center’s scholastic Chess Works program.

John Urschel also has impressive background, graduating from Penn State with a 4.0 in mathematics; he published two important mathematical results in academic literature. Off the field, he is pursuing his Ph.D. at MIT in the fields of spectral graph theory, numerical linear algebra, and machine learning.

LSC President Paul Hoffman spoke of this unique event as a magical night of science and creativity we look forward to every year at the Center.  Hoffman was joined by two-time chess champion of Canada and  New Jersey hedge-fund trader extraordinaire GM Pascal Charbonneau to officiate the unique competition.


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