Sports

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray might be the best chess player in the NFL

Playing quarterback is a lot like playing chess — reading the whole field (board), knowing the capabilities of each player (piece), and seeing multiple moves into the future. It just so happens that Kyler Murray is good at both playing quarterback and playing chess.

The Cardinals’ second-year quarterback picked up chess in the fourth grade, according to ESPN. It’s a hobby he still plays does now, mostly via an app on his phone. Murray’s chess playing has gotten a bit more attention recently thanks to the streaming series, “The Queen’s Gambit,” which prompted the Week 10 CBS broadcast to put together a segment called “Kyler’s Gambit” where he was pictured moving around on a chess board. 

It’s not just a recent hobby for Murray, though. He joined the chess club at Degan Elementary School in Lewisville, Texas. It took place from 3-3:45 p.m. on Thursdays in the school’s library, according to ESPN, and Murray quickly became one of the best players among the 110 club members.

“I took pride in it, for sure, just because I take pride in everything I do,” Murray told ESPN in 2019. “Most athletes probably aren’t going to be that good at chess, so we were coming in, beating the guys that you would call — I don’t call them nerds, but the guys that are supposed to be smarter than us. So it was kind of funny to see us go to the chess club and run it.”

MORE: How good was Kyler Murray at baseball?

Murray finished his elementary school career as the Degan Elementary chess champion, with his final game of chess as an elementary student a win in the club’s single-elimination tournament. More than a decade later, Murray still plays games, most often on his phone these days in the app Chess With Friends.

He told ESPN that his username isn’t exactly disguised, although he declined to reveal it. That means someone could pick up Chess With Friends and potentially play against Murray. He’d probably win, though.

Murray almost always goes with the same move, per ESPN: Moving the pawn in front of his king two spaces. From there, it’s just all about seeing into the future.

“I think just because of how I was born with the feel of just how to see things before they happen, I guess,” Murray told ESPN, “which applies to a lot of things.”

MORE: Kyler Murray’s incredible high-school football stats

Before the 2020 season, Murray continued his chess-playing with a physical board between him and his future Hall of Fame receiver, Larry Fitzgerald. 

Soon after Murray sent out another tweet which read: “1-0 fellas.” Because of course he’d won. The top-10 MLB and NFL Draft selection probably would be good at anything he tried, and his long-time chess play is proof of that.

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