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Charles, Ray

Ray Charles (1930-2004) was a blind musician (born Ray Charles Robinson) who learned chess in 1965 after being busted twice and hospitalized for heroin addiction.  He learned chess in the hospital where he went cold turkey after 17 years of drug use.  He used a peg set made for the blind.  He appeared on the cover of Chess Life in September 2002 and was interviewed by Larry Evans.  Ray Charles stated that chess was his favorite game.  One of  his chess opponents was Willie Nelson, who mentioned  Ray Charles’ chess skills at his funeral.  He also played chess with Dizzy Gillespie.  In the film, Ray, there is a scene of Ray Charles playing chess in the hospital with the doctor while recovering from his addiction.  He died of liver disease.

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