Chess doesn't have a long tradition in NBA circles, but you can't blame Daryl Morey. The Houston Rockets GM, already known for his cerebral approach to basketball, tweeted out some photos Monday of NBA stars playing chess against grandmasters and child prodigies alike.
Morey was tweeting to promote an event he sponsored at a Houston-area magnet school, where Morey and other professionals from across the Houston sports community came together to play chess with sixth and seventh-grade students.
Rockets players Trevor Ariza and Troy Daniels attended the event, as well as Susan Polgar, the world's first female chess grandmaster. Ariza teamed up with one of the middle-schoolers to take on Polgar, and the two sides traded pieces deep into the match:
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) September 15, 2014
Ariza's photo doesn't hold a candle to the black-and-white picture Morey had posted earlier, which shows a slender boy taking on three NBA stars at the same time. A little Internet research reveals that the photo is of 11-year-old Bob Seltzer taking on then-Celtics Bill Walton, Danny Ainge and Kevin McHale -- the latter of whom is the Rocket's current head coach -- in three separate matches at once.
The contest was organized as part of a multiple sclerosis fundraising event in 1986, and the photo was published by Chess Horizons Magazine in 1987.
Unassuming as he may appear, Seltzer was a chess prodigy. At the time he was ranked No. 1 nationally among 11- and 12-year-olds. And it's important to mentioned all three Celtics he faced had at least some chess acumen. Bill Walton remains an avid chess fan today, according to Polgar.
But Seltzer had no problem juggling the three stars: he forced McHale and Walton to resign early and put Ainge in checkmate after a respectable 35 moves.
As part of his chess event, Morey also gave the schoolkids a lesson on the similarities between chess and basketball. It's fun idea and a noble effort to educate on Morey's part, even if most NBA players couldn't tell their king-side castle from their en passant.