(Colorado Chess Informant - July 1999)
By NM Todd Bardwick
A couple weeks ago, I got the opportunity to visit Bronco headquarters in Dove Valley and interview Barney Chavous about the Denver Broncos chess activities over the years.
Back in the summer of 1997, I wrote the first column in the Rocky Mountain News about Broncos chess, focusing on Reggie Rivers. For those of you Bronco fans who missed that column, hopefully you will find this interesting.
Barney Chavous asked me to ask local chess players to NOT call the Broncos and challenge them to a chess game. After the Reggie River's column, quite a commotion was caused as they were swamped with phone calls challenging Broncos players to a game. The Broncos players put football first, and play chess for relaxation and a break from a busy schedule.
BRONCOS EXERCISE MINDS BY TACKLING CHESS
After a hard day’s work, many of the Denver Broncos can be found playing
chess in the office of assistant strength coach and former defensive
lineman, Barney Chavous.
Rivers, who learned how to play chess as a child, says that the Broncos
play chess during road trips, on the plane, on the bus, and in the
Does chess improve a professional football player’s game?
“Chess has definitely helped me understand a lot of the strategy of
football,” says Rivers. “In
chess, good offense is often an exercise in putting multiple points of
pressure on one square. In football, offensive play design (particularly
passes) involves putting multiple points of pressure on one player.”
Chess has also helped Rivers better understand football defensive
From the start of the 1996 season to the present, Chavous holds a 90-34 edge over Rivers. Offensive lineman, John Jones, has beaten Rivers all six of the times they have played. Rivers does, however, have a winning record of 47-16 over defensive lineman, Alfred Williams, and an 11-6 edge over safety, Robert Turner, a recent newcomer to the team.
ORANGE CRUSH DEFENSE STARTED CHESS TRADITION FOR BRONCOS
A popular place at Bronco headquarters at lunch time between practice
sessions is the wood chess board in Barney Chavous’s office.
In fact, the famous Orange Crush Defense frequently played chess to pass
the time on the plane during team trips.
Back then, Rubin Carter, Steve Foley, Tom Jackson, Claudie Minor, John
Rowser, Ed Smith, and later Larry Canada were the most active chess
players on the Broncos team.
Chavous also sees the similarity between the two games:
According to Chavous, Alfred Williams is probably the best chess player
on the current Broncos Super Bowl team. Chavous originally taught
Williams how to play and said that Williams has improved a lot and loves
to play computer chess.
And the best Bronco chess player of all time? Probably…Chavous. Carter said, “Barney is really tough and one of the best.” In his retirement speech on May 2, John Elway took the time to admitt that he was not as strong a chess player as Chavous.
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