A player doesn’t need to be a grandmaster or a professional to play and enjoy chess. It’s a universal sport that many people play even celebrities from different walks of life.
In this blog, we will feature some of the famous celebrities from showbiz, the business world, and other sports who love playing chess and are quite good at it.
1. George R R Martin
Who doesn’t know George R R Martin? He is the man who wrote the whole Game of Thrones series.
Not only is he a great writer who can write thousands of characters in a single book in great detail and then a somewhat different version of that story to show on the TV series but also he is a very good chess player.
Life wasn’t that easy for Martin from the beginning. He was a common 9-to-5 person but the only difference was that he worked on weekends and did his writing on weekdays. And it was 1996 when his 1st publication came out.
The most amazing thing is that at one point when chess saw a boom in popularity in the US because of Bobby Fischer winning the world championship, there were a lot of weekend tournaments in the US. And George became a director of these tournaments.
That weekend gig was enough for him to make a living and give his all to writing on the weekdays.
His record as a player is also better than most chess players in the world. He was briefly an expert (which is around 2000 USCF rating). On chess.com his peak rating is 1905.
2. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chess rating is unknown but he has done a lot to promote the game of chess. Chess was a part of his Arnold Classic series among many other competitions played on different continents.
In the 2019 Africa edition of Arnold Classic, Schwarzenegger revealed that he played a lot of chess in his youth.
You can find some of his chess-playing moments on Twitter too.
3. Manny Pacquiao
Back in 2013, Manny Pacquiao sponsored a big chess tournament in his native Philippines. During that tournament, he also appeared in an exhibition match against Torre, who was the organizer of the tournament.
It was a 20 moves Queen Fianchetto game that ended in a draw against Torre who is a Grandmaster. Most probably it was a pre-planned setup game but the crowd in attendance didn’t mind much of it.
They were more interested to see their hero, who is not only famous in the Philippines but worldwide.
The thing that matters the most is that Manny Pacquiao is a chess fan and overall a supporter of sporting events in his country, which he considers his duty as a congressman. Once, in an interview, he said that he was playing chess even before he started boxing.
4. Will Smith
Will Smith once said that he is happy that his father thought him how to play chess in his childhood. He was 12 years old when he won a chess game from his father, and once that happened, his father never played chess with him again.
Being a very famous actor, he even appeared in a movie as a chess player.
Will Smith took training for 3 days from Maurice Ashley, a famous chess grandmaster and commentator from USA.
According to him, the best thing he learned from Maurice Ashley was positional chess. Check it out in a video below:
According to Will Smith, the elements and concepts of life are perfectly illustrated in the game of chess. Like in life, you have to calculate each position just like a chessboard and make a decision that is going to impact the future.
Whatever move you play, like waking up in the morning and going for a walk, the universe has a response for your every move. And once you have taken a move, you can’t take it back.
Will Smith says he will pass on the ability to play chess to his kids because chess has a lot of life lessons and it can enable children to think before doing anything in life.
As far as Will Smith’s chess rating is concerned, he never played official chess, neither is his any online chess account public.
5. Richard Branson
Richard Branson is a billionaire businessman from England. Outside work, he is an adventurer, philanthropist & a big fan of chess which he revealed in a Twitter post you can see below:
Richard Branson’s playing strength is around 1200, which is good enough to beat a casual chess player. His playing style circles around the 2 move maneuvers in which he tries to outplay his opponents.
For a hobbyist, that’s good enough to get from chess, and rather than doing the usual learning of chess, he does his playing on the board, trying to come up with a strategy that his gut feelings will accept.
In fact, that’s how Branson in real life is, he goes with his instincts both in chess in life and maybe that’s the reason of his success in practical life.
These are only a few celebrities we have covered in this post. Do leave us a comment on which celebrity is your favorite chess player. We will cover them in the future content.