Chess games of the rich and famous: Ray Charles and Tony Horowitz

Ray Charles plays chess with trumpeter Tony Horowitz.  Undated photo, from Tony Horowitz

Ray Charles plays chess with trumpeter Tony Horowitz. Circa 1973, photo from Tony Horowitz

One more indication of the extreme genius of Ray Charles.  How does a blind person play chess?  Very well, it appears.

Tip of the old scrub brush for inspiration to Grandmaster Raymond Keene and Bishop Berkeley. They also call our attention to this photo — on a school bus?

Ray Charles and chess board - Life Magazine photo

Ray Charles and chess board - Life Magazine photo

8 Responses to Chess games of the rich and famous: Ray Charles and Tony Horowitz

  1. […] and chess Trumpeter Tony Horowitz, one of those portrayed playing chess with Ray Charles, wrote in to compliment Charles on his chess acumen, and acumen at life in general.  Take a look again at Ray Charles and Tony Horowitz playing Chess […]


  2. […] games of the rich and fa…toby on Anthony Watts targets Millard …TONY HOROWITZ on Chess games of the rich and fa…Clementina Sticker on Dan Valentine – Pink cig…anon on DDT and birth defects: South […]


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Thank you for adding the details, Mr. Horowitz.

    Where are you performing next?


  4. Yes. Ray played very well. We played on a Braille board. Thus, I had to “re-learn” some of the pieces. We also had a “chess club” at his house when we were not on the road. The picture that you see here was taken in 1973, while on his plane, when I was playing lead trumpet for him.
    I’ve had the privilege, and pleasure of working with many brilliant performers, but only one genius, Ray. Some of the things that I personally saw him do were almost beyond belief. I say “almost,” because one has to remember that it was Ray doing them.
    He was also a kind, and understanding man. I miss him terribly.


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  6. Ed Darrell says:

    Ray Charles also drove a car with some regularity. I met the guy only once, in the Concorde Lounge at Dulles Airport, but he was one of the warmest guys you could ever want to meet. Waiting for an airplane with celebrities can be an agony of silences. Charles demonstrated that he was alert to everyone in the room, and open to just about anything. It was a comfortable experience, a real tribute to the humanity in the guy.

    I wasn’t all that surprised to find that he played chess. But I stumbled onto the photo, and it was in relation to a search for Willie Nelson, who also plays chess.

    Wow. I wonder if Charles and Nelson ever played each other (they performed together several times); I wonder if anyone had the sense to pull out a camera and get a shot.

    And, because there are several photos of Charles with chess sets, in different locations at different times, I’ll wager he was pretty good.

    Maybe we ought to e-mail Tony Horowitz and ask, eh?


  7. Scott Hanley says:

    From what I’ve read about chess, playing without a board is a very learnable skill, with some some masters even playing blind demonstrations against multiple opponents. But I had no idea Ray Charles played chess. If he could do it at all, I imagine he must have put enough study into the game to play rather well.


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