13 Celebrities who Enjoy Playing Chess

Chess is a game that anyone can fall in love with. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from; if you enjoy strategic and intellectually challenging games, chess can be your thing.

It seems like many celebrities have also fallen under the spell of the 64 squares and 32 pieces. Let’s take a look at some famous faces who not only enjoy playing chess but are quite skilled at it too.

13 Celebrities who play Chess:

1. 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, Arnold revealed that he played a lot of chess in his youth.

Check out one of his games in a video below:

2. 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.

3. Tobey Maguire

Tobey Maguire, famous for playing Spider-Man in movies, is a passionate chess lover.

He has been seen taking part in different chess events and has expressed his affection for the game during interviews.

He played the main role in a chess movie called “Pawn Sacrifice,” which tells the story of the greatest US chess player, Bobby Fischer.

You can watch the trailer of movie in the video below:

4. George R R Martin

George R.R. Martin, the famous author behind the captivating Game of Thrones series, is not only a skilled writer but also an accomplished chess player.

With his ability to intricately develop thousands of characters in his books and adapt them into a captivating TV series, Martin has showcased his storytelling prowess.

However, his journey to success wasn’t without challenges. Initially working a regular job from Monday to Friday, Martin dedicated his weekends to chess tournaments and pursued his writing passion during weekdays.

In 1996, his first publication made its debut, marking the beginning of his remarkable literary career.

Martin’s involvement in the world of chess went beyond playing the game.

During a period of increased popularity for chess in the United States, spurred by Bobby Fischer’s triumph in the world championship, Martin took on the role of tournament director for various weekend competitions.

This allowed him to make a living while fully immersing himself in writing during the weekdays.

Impressively, Martin’s chess skills are notable, surpassing those of many players worldwide.

He achieved the rank of expert (around a 2000 USCF rating) for a brief period, and his peak rating on chess.com stands at an impressive 1905.

5. 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.

6. 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, drawing a game against a top player.

Pacquiao is a chess fan and avid supporter of sporting events in his country, which he also considers his duty as a congressman.

Once, in an interview, he said that he was playing chess even before he started boxing.

7. Bill Gates

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is not only a tech genius but also enjoys playing chess to some extent.

Although he may not be highly skilled at the game, he participated in an entertaining match on a TV show against Magnus Carlsen, the 5 times world chess champion.

In the game, Bill Gates ended up losing to Carlsen. But nevertheless, he expressed his admiration for the strategic challenges presented by chess.

You can watch the game between Bill Gates and Magnus Carlsen in the video below.

8. Elon Musk

Known for his groundbreaking ventures such as Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk has also played chess when he was a kid.

He has mentioned playing chess in a podcast and thinks chess is a simple game. According to him there are far complicated board games like Polytopia.

9. Woody Harrelson

Woody Harrelson, a versatile actor recognized for his roles in films like “Zombieland” and “The Hunger Games,” is an avid chess player.

He has participated in chess tournaments and has even hosted a charity chess event.

He attempted to checkmate a former world champion in 4 moves 😀

Check it out in a video below:

10. Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and an influential venture capitalist, is an accomplished chess player.

He was a highly ranked player in his youth and continues to appreciate the strategic challenges and intellectual stimulation the game offers.

Peter Thiel’s rating in standard chess is 2199. This is better than at least 98% of FIDE rated players.

11. Daniel Radcliffe

Daniel Radcliffe, renowned for his portrayal of Harry Potter in the film series, is also a chess enthusiast.

He has expressed his passion for chess in interviews and has mentioned playing the game to relax and unwind.

Check out all the chess scenes from famous Harry Potter series:

12. Jude Law

Jude Law, a critically acclaimed actor known for his diverse roles, is also fond of chess.

He has been photographed playing chess in his leisure time and has mentioned the game’s appeal due to its mental intensity.

Check out his famous Chess scene from “Game of Shadows” of the Sherlock series:

13. Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic, the tennis sensation, isn’t just a master on the court; he’s also a fan of chess. Djokovic mentioned, “I saw they are playing chess. That was the first thing that Boris introduced to our team, as well, playing chess.”

He understands that chess is not just a game; it’s a tool for improving focus, mental clarity, and strategic thinking.

In addition to his love for chess, Djokovic recently took on an intriguing challenge at the Rolex Paris Masters.

He faced his former coach, Boris Becker, and the rising star Holger Rune. Djokovic keenly observed that Becker was employing some of their old tactics with Rune, highlighting the chess-like strategic thinking that stretches across different domains, from the tennis court to the chessboard.

Before you go…

If you’re a fan of chess, be sure to watch the top chess movies featured in the video below:

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