Monday, February 12, 2018

John Urschel profiled on HuffPost

Grandmaster Robert Hess gives former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel a chess lesson outside the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in St. Louis on August 13, 2017.

02/09/2018 11:50 am ET Updated 3 days ago

This Ex-NFL Player Is On A Mission To Become A Chess Master

Having mastered football and math, John Urschel has his sights on chess.

When John Urschel retired from the NFL last year after just 3 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, it made headlines. In recent years, several young players, including Chris Borland of the 49ers, have bowed out of the sport early due to growing concerns over the potential for long-term brain damage, but Urschel’s motivation was different: he just didn’t have time for football anymore. He was getting a PhD in math at MIT.

The idea of a 300-pound offensive lineman trading in his helmet for a protractor obviously generated a lot of interest, as well as a lot of bad math/football puns. Now, Urschel has quietly set himself a new goal: he wants to become a chess master. You might think someone who spends his days studying Laplacian eigenvectors would pick a hobby that’s a little more restful on the brain.

But for Urschel, the appeal of math and the appeal of chess are very similar. “As a mathematician, I really like to understand the structure of things,” he says. “[Chess] is very mathematical to me. You’re playing a game, you’re faced with some position, you’re trying to figure out the way to proceed, and you don’t really know in most cases if I play this move or that move, if that’s winning, if it’s losing, if it’s drawing... It doesn’t feel that much different from being faced with a mathematical problem and trying to reason your way through.”

John is featured in the Huffpost.  Read the entire article and view the video with John discussing mathematics at:

Mike Coppola via Getty Images
John Urschel faces Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana, one of the top 10 players in the world, at the Liberty Science Center’s Genius Gala on May 20, 2016 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

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