Celebrities Playing Chess

This might not improve your rating or your abilities, but it’s fun, interesting, and perhaps even revealing, to see how celebrities play the game. Maybe we can now call ourselves the PAWN-PAR-RAZZI.


Karl Marx (Political writer)-Meyer
Germany, 1867
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O gxf3 6.Qxf3 Qf6 7.e5 Qxe5 8.d3 Bh6 9.Nc3 Ne7 10.Bd2 Nbc6 11.Rae1 Qf5 12.Nd5 Kd8 13.Bc3 Rg8

[13…Re8!? is not so well known and may be even better.

(1) 14.Bf6 d6 15.Bb5 Be6 16.Bxc6 bxc6 17.Bxe7+ Rxe7 18.Nxe7 Qc5+ 19.d4 Qxd4+ 20.Kh1 Kxe7 21.Qxc6 Rc8 22.c3 Qb6 23.Qe4 Rg8 24.Qxh7 Rg6 25.Re2 Qc5 26.Qh8 Kd7 27.Qa8 Qc6 28.Qxc6+ Kxc6 29.b3 Kd7 30.c4 Bf5 31.Rfe1 Re6 32.Kg1 Bg4 33.Re4 Bf5 34.R4e2 Bd3 35.Rxe6 fxe6 36.Kf2 e5 37.g3 fxg3+ 38.hxg3 e4 39.Rh1 Bd2 0-1 (Schallopp-Paulsen, Berlin, 1864)

(2) 14.Bf6 Bg5 15.g4 Qg6 16.Bxg5 Qxg5 17.h4 Qxh4 18.Qxf4 d6 19.Nf6 Ne5 20.Rxe5 dxe5 21.Qxe5 Bxg4 22.Qd4+ Kc8 23.Be6+ Kb8 24.Nd7+ Kc8 25.Nc5+ Kb8 26.Na6+ bxa6 27.Qb4mate 1-0 (Chigorin-Davidov, St. Petersburg, 1874).]

14.Bf6 Bg5 15.Bxg5 Qxg5 16.Nxf4 Ne5 17.Qe4 d6 18.h4 Qg4 19.Bxf7 Rf8 20.Bh5 Qg7 21.d4 N5c6 22.c3 a5 23.Ne6+ Bxe6 24.Rxf8+ Qxf8 25.Qxe6 Ra6 26.Rf1 Qg7 27.Bg4 Ng8 28.Rf7 1-0

GM Miguel Najdorf-Ernesto Ché Guevara (Revolutionary)
Blindfold Simul
Mar de Plata, 1949
[Leftist guerillas generally do better than most. Maybe it’s because they must be resourceful while planning their battles and they carry that resourcefulness to the chess table. Then again, Najdorf was playing blindfolded.]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 h6 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.d5 Ne7 13.c4 bxc4 14.Nxc4 c6 15.dxc6 Nxc6 16.Be3 Be6 1/2-1/2

Koltanowski-Humphrey Bogart (Actor)
Blindfold exhibition game
San Francisco, Mar. 5 1952
[Bogart is one of best, both on screen and at the chessboard. He played around Expert level.]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5
(The Exchange Variation is a good way get out of “book”, and prepared lines.) 3…exd5 (Bogart probably know 3…Qxd5? can easily lead to a bad game for Black.) 4.Bd3 Nf6 5.Ne2 Bg4 6.O-O Bd6 7.f3 Be6 8.Bf4 O-O 9.Nd2 Nc6 10.c3 Ne7 11.Bxd6 Qxd6 12.f4 c5 13.Nf3 Nf5 14.Qd2 Ne4 15.Qc1 Rac8 16.dxc5 Qxc5+ 17.Ned4 Nxd4 18.Nxd4 Rc7 19.f5 Bd7 20.Bxe4 dxe4 21.Qf4 Re8 22.Rae1 Re5 23.Rxe4 Rxe4 24.Qxe4 Bc6 25.Qe3 Re7 26.Qg3 Re8 27.f6 g6 28.Qh4 h5 29.Re1 Rxe1+ 30.Qxe1 Qd6 31.Nxc6 Qxc6 32.Qe7 Qc8 33.h3 Qc6 34.b4 Qxc3 35.Qe8+ Kh7 36.Qxf7+ Kh6 37.Qe7 Qc1+ 38.Kf2 Qf4+ 39.Ke2 Qc4+ 40.Kf3 Kg5 41.f7+ 1-0

Here’s another Bogart game, with him showing off his skills.

Humphrey Bogart-Lauren Bacall (Actress), 1951
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.d3!?
(Played to limit counterplay.) 4…d5 5.exd5 Qxd5 6.c4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 Qd6 9.a4 Bd7 10.Ba3 Qf6 11.Qe2 Nge7 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.Bxc6 Bxc6 14.Nxe5 Bxg2 15.Rg1 Bh3 16.Rg3 Be6 17.d4 c6 18.d5 cxd5 19.cxd5 Bxd5 20.c4 Be6 21.Re3 f6 22.Nd3 Kf7 23.Nf4 Rae8 24.Nxe6 Qb4+ 25.Kf1 Re7 26.Re1 Rhe8 27.Nd8+ Kf8 28.Rxe7 Rxe7 29.Qxe7+ Qxe7 30.Rxe7 Kxe7 31.Nxb7 1-0

Boris Becker (Tennis professional)-GM Garry Kasparov
Internet Exhibition Game
Berlin, Mar. 15 2000
1.e4 e5 2.Qh5?
(Did Becker actually think that this opening, so weak than even a young amateur would see the weaknesses inherent in it, would succeed against a player who was World Champion for an entire decade?) 2…Nc6 3.Qf3 Nd4 4.Qc3 Nf6 5.f3 g6 6.Ne2 c5 7.Nxd4 cxd4 8.Qb3 Bg7 9.Bc4 O-O 10.c3 d5 11.Be2 d3 12.Bxd3 dxe4 13.Bxe4 Nxe4 14.fxe4 Qh4+ 15.Kd1 Qxe4 16.Re1 Bg4+ 17.Re2 Qxe2+ 18.Kc2 0-1

Ray Charles (Singer, Entertainer)-GM Larry Evans
Reno, Mar. 8 2002
Chess Life Interview
[Ray Charles is blind and pays on a special board for the blind. This game was a casual game for a Chess Life interview. Ray plays well, but the GM is simply too much him (and most of us!)]
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bc5 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Qe2 O-O 8.Be3 Bxe3 9.Qxe3 Re8 10.f3 d5 11.Qd3 a5 12.O-O-O Ba6 13.Qd2 Bxf1 14.Rhxf1 dxe4 15.Qxd8 Raxd8 16.Rxd8 Rxd8 17.Rd1 Rxd1+ 18.Kxd1 exf3 19.gxf3 Kf8 20.Kc1 Ke7 21.Kd2 Ke6 22.Ke3 Nd5+ 23.Kd4 Nxc3 24.Kxc3 Kd5 0-1

Celebrity status does not depend solely on performers and politicians. Here is a slightly eccentric super genius trying his hand at the game.

Zurich 1913
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 O-O 8.e5! Ne4 9.Bd3
(9.Qc2 is also strong.) 9…Nxc3 10.bxc3 Bxc3+ 11.Kf1 Bxa1 12.Bxh7+ Kh8 13.Ng5 g6 14.h4 Kg7 15.h5 Rh8 16.hxg6 fxg6 17.Qf3 Qf8 18.Ne6+ dxe6 19.Bh6+ 1-0

Albert Einstein–Oppenheimer
Princeton, 1933
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 b5 5.Bb3 Nf6 6.O-O Nxe4 7.Re1 d5 8.a4 b4 9.d3 Nc5 10.Nxe5 Ne7 11.Qf3 f6?
(> 11…Be6) 12.Qh5+! g6 13.Nxg6! hxg6 (13…Rg8 14.Nxe7+ Kd7 15.Qxd5+ Ke8 16.Qxg8) 14.Qxh8 Nxb3 15.cxb3 Qd6? (15…Kf7) 16.Bh6 Kd7 17.Bxf8 Bb7 18.Qg7 Re8 19.Nd2 c5 20.Rad1 a5 21.Nc4! dxc4 (21…Qc7 22.Bxe7) 22.dxc4 Qxd1 23.Rxd1+ Kc8 24.Bxe7 1-0

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