Famous People and Chess

Former NBA basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1947- ) plays chess.  He was observed reading a chess book (Chess Tactics for Champions by Susan Polgar) at the Bonnaroo music festival in June, 2011.Ben Affleck

Actor Antonio Banderas (1960- ) plays chess.  In the 1995 movie, Assassins, Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas) plays chess with Robert Rath (Sylvester Stallone). In the 2008 movie, The Other Man, Ralph (Antonio Banderas) plays chess with Paul (Liam Neeson).

Actress Joan Bennett (1910-1990) played chess.  She played chess with Humphrey Bogart during the filming of We’re No Angels.

Composer John Cage (1912-1992) played chess with Marcel Duchamp.

Film director and producer Frank Capra (1897-1991) played chess.  He played chess with Barbara Stanwyck on the set of Meet John Doe. 

Opera tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921) played chess and took lessons from Yugoslav master Boris Kostich (1887-1963),

Actor Lee J. Cobb (1911-1976) played chess.  In the 1939 movie, Golden Boy, Mr. Bonaparte (Lee J. Cobb) plays chess with Mr. Carp (William Strauss). In the 1948 movie, The Dark Past, Dr. Andrew Collins (Lee J. Cobb) plays chess with Al Walker (William Holden).

Actor Timothy Dalton (1944- ), who played James Bond, plays chess.  In the past, he has visited the London Chess Centre and purchased an expensive wooden chess set.

English write Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was a chess player.  He wrote an article on all the London chess clubs during his time. 

Scottish actor James Donald (1917-1993) played chess.  He played chess with actor David Farrar (1908-1995) between takes of Cage of Gold.

Queen Elizabeth II plays chess.  She once commented, “I play, but I am always losing.  I learned my chess the hard way.”  Prince Charles and Princess Anne were taught chess in their nursery.  Prince William plays chess.  Nelson Mandela gave Queen Elizabeth II a chess set in 1996.

Film producer and entrepreneur Ted Field (1953- ) plays chess.  He sponsored the 1990 world chess championship match between Karpov and Kasparov when part of the match was held in New York.  He relaxes by playing blitz chess on the Internet.

Mathematician and popular science writer Martin Gardner (1914-2010) was a lifelong chess fan.  He played chess in high school and at the University of Chicago where he met and was friends with Sammy Reshevsky.

English novelist and Nobel Prize winner William Golding (1911-1993) was an avid chess player.  He mentioned chess in some of his writings.

Actress Barbara Hale (1922- ) plays chess.  She was a member of the Herman Steiner Chess Club in Hollywood.

The daughter of President Rutherford Hayes (1822-1893) said that her father had two hobbies: fishing and chess.  He was a strong chess player, taught by his mother.  He wrote about playing chess in his diary.  He wrote “Somehow my faculties are so dull that nothing but chess seems to excite the attention…”  His chess set is in the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Ohio. 

Businessman Carl Icahn (1936- ) plays chess.  He sometimes wagers thousands of dollars a game on chess between him and his son.  Carl plays chess on his iPad.

Actor Rick Jason (1923-200) played chess.  He was a member of the Beverly Hills Chess Club and visited various chess clubs in the Los Angeles area.  He played chess with fellow chess players in the crew of the movie Prescription for Murder.

American jazz and big band drummer Gene Krupa (1909-1973) played chess.

Tennis great Ivan Lendl (1960- ) plays chess.  His father, Jiri Lendl, was a chess master, Czech junior champion and played in the Czechoslovakian chess championship.

Novelist and Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) played chess.  He was a frequent visitor to the Marshall Chess Club.  During the last period of his life, Lewis hired secretaries to play chess with him.

Politician and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) played chess.  It was his favorite game. 

Professional tennis player Max Mirnyi (1977- ) plays chess. 

Actor Barry Morse (1918-2008) played chess.

Actor Carroll O’Connor (1924-2001) played chess.

Actor and restaurateur Mike Romanoff (1890-1971) played chess.  His chess partner at his restaurant was Humphrey Bogart.

Actress Jill St. John (1940- ) plays chess.

Business magnate George Soros (1930- ) plays chess. He learned chess from his father in 1944 in Hungary while hiding from the Gestapo.  In 2012, he invited Magnus Carlsen to his summer house in the Hamptons and they played chess.

Actor Kevin Spacey (1959- ) plays chess.

Actress arbara Stanwyck (1907-1990) played chess.  She played Frank Capra while on the set of Meet John Doe in 1941.

Actor Burt Ward (1945- ) plays chess.  He was the strongest member of his high school’s chess team.  He played chess in college.

Film director Billy Wilder (1906-2002) played chess.  Wilder grew up in Vienna and remembers, as a boy, watching Trotsky play chess in the Café Central.