Jessica Simpson, Ray Charles, and Five Other Famous People You Never Knew Were Chess Addicts

Jessica Simpson, Ray Charles, and Five Other Famous People You Never Knew Were Chess Addicts

Jun 25, 2014, 3:31 PM |

Chess is cool. Celebrities play chess. That actress you're pretty sure doesn't have two brain cells to rub together to make fire? Yep, she'll own you and then tell her driver to take you home. That rapper you're pretty sure never graduated high school? He didn't, but that won't matter as you resign. Out of all the celebrities known to play chess, though, these seven were the coolest, most interesting, and most surprising.

1- Jessica Simpson

Photo via PopSugar

No, really, we're not playing with you. The sultry blonde chanteuse behind ... um... okay, we'll admit, we can't name a single Jessica Simpson song, or anything she's done beyond dating Tony Romo and Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins. But that latter paramour apparently got Jessica interested in chess, and the two played a weekly game while they dated.

Estimated Ranking: Oh, wait! Dukes of Hazzard! She was in The Dukes of Hazzard movie, right?

2- Arnold Schwarzenegger

Images via This Site and Arnold Schwarzenegger Italian Forum

This somehow fits, really. If you think about the fact that Ah-nold went from alleged Nazi sympathizer to body building star to nude muscle mag model to action movie god to California governor and back to action movies, it seems apparent that the man knows something about planning moves ahead of time.

Estimated Rating: Get to the choppah!

3- Nicolas Cage

Image via The Hollywood Reporter

He of Face/Off and Wicker Man and National Treasure and [insert awful movie that had to be done just for fun] fame, yes, Nicolas Cage is a chess player. We can only imagine his across-the-board face is as intense as ... well, any face he makes in his movies.

Estimated Rating: Not the bees! No, not the bees!

4- Ray Charles

Image by Life Magazine's Bill Ray

No, really. This was a thing! Ray Charles. Blind Ray Charles that Jamie Foxx played in Ray. He played much chess. Did you know this? We did not know this. He had a Braille chess set, and he and Willie Nelson would play chess, presumably after getting wicked high. Ray Charles and Willie Nelson, stoned out of their gourds and playing chess. If that mental image doesn't make you smile, there are many things wrong with you.

Estimated Rating: No, really, isn't that cool?

5- Will Smith

Image via ChessBase

For Valentine's Day, the Fresh Prince's equally fresh wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, got Will a session with GM Maurice Ashley. Will spent two hours learning from Ashley, and the grandmaster eventually told Will to go check on his wife. On Valentine's Day. True story.

Estimated Rating: Legend.

6- Steve Martin

Image via Chess in the Cinema

Considering that he's already an accomplished actor, comedian, musician, author, screenwriter, film producer, voice over artist, and the best part of The Three Amigos, one would hope Steve Martin would leave something for the rest of us. He plays chess, too, though. In fact, he once took Rick Moranis and Rick Moranis' Booster Seat to see Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov play to a draw in the 1990 World Chess Championship.

Estimated Rating: Banjo.

7- Ben Affleck

Image via The Haphzard Blog

Ben Affleck plays chess. He reportedly often plays at the Bel Air Chess Club. You know, sometimes one forgets why we as a society give Ben Affleck so much flack. Then, one remembers Gigli and Daredevil.

Estimated Rating: We're betting Matt Damon was playing chess first and Affleck caught on.