Pestaño: Basketball players who excel in chess

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Chessmoso

Thursday, February 7, 2013


SOME of the most awaited events in sports aside from the Olympics are the Super Bowl of the NFL, the major events in tennis and golf, championship boxing matches and the NBA All-Star game.

The NBA All-Star Game is an exhibition game matching the league’s star players from the Eastern Conference against their counterparts from the Western Conference.

The starting lineup for each squad are selected by fans, while the reserves are chosen through a vote among the head coaches. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players.

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The 2013 NBA All-Star will be played on Feb. 17 in Houston, Texas, which is also the home of the Houston Rockets. This game will be the 62nd edition and the Eastern Conference All-Stars lead the all-time series 36–25.

This article features NBA basketball players who excel also in chess.

Kobe Bryant was quoted as saying “These young guys are playing checkers. I’m out there playing chess.” His favorite opening is the Budapest gambit.

A 2009 basketball ad showed Kobe Bryant playing chess with LeBron James.

Basketball great Wilt Chamberlain played chess. He once phoned Bobby Fischer to come over his house to have dinner and play chess, but Bobby declined the invitation because there would be other people there. There are several photos of Wilt playing chess during his college days. Known for his relentless pursuit of women,he claims to have bedded 10,000.

NBA center David Robinson is a chess player. He played chess at the Naval Academy where he graduated, before going to the San Antonio Spurs.

Both Amare Stoudemire and Danny Ainge once said, “I’m always playing chess on the basketball court.”

Larry Bird’s favorite opening is f4, which is known as the Bird’s opening. It is not named after him, of course, but after a 19th century English master, Henry Bird.

“Basketball is like a really fast-paced game of chess, where every move has its benefits and repercussions,” Bill Walton said.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was reading a book called Chess Tactics For Champions while at the Bonnaroo music festival

There is a famous basketball player in Israel, Oded Katash, who plays a lot of chess at the Internet Chess Club. He was formerly a European champion and European Player of the Year, and was drafted by the NY Knicks. But he got injured and had to stop playing ball for a while.

Bill Cartwright taught himself while on road trips with the University of San Francisco. His teammates could rarely challenge him, so he relied on opposition from a computer.

“I like to play chess out there,” Bosh said. “It’s all about the setup for the next thing. I’m always thinking 18 moves ahead. Chess is still one on one. You’re thinking three and four moves ahead and considering all the possibilities. If a guy beats me one time, I’ll challenge him to do it again. He won’t beat me twice.”

“We have a mini-tournament in our locker room most of the time,” says Mark Madsen of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Among his colleagues who play chess are Latrell Sprewell and Gary Trent.

The wife of one of his friends taught Larry Johnson, formerly of the NY Knicks, how to play chess and he was hooked. He played often with his teammate Allan Houston.

Other basketball players who play chess are Dick Barnett, Maurice Carter, Jason Forte, Elvin Hayes, Magic Johnson, Steve Smith, Jason Williams and Jay Williams.

boypestano@gmail.com,www.chessmoso.blogspot.com

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 08, 2013.

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