Friday, 13 March 2009

Celebrity Chess - Ray Charles Beat Heroin Addiction With Chess


Ray Charles (1930 - 2004) (California, 1966)
By Bill Ray (Life Magazine)

Ray Charles, the soul, blues and gospel music legend, learned chess in 1965 whilst recovering from heroin addiction. The movie Ray (2004), directed by Taylor Hackford, has a hospital scene showing Ray Charles (played by Jamie Foxx) playing chess with his doctor. Ray learned and played chess without the aid of sight, as he began to lose his vision at the age of 6 years, being totally blind by the age of 7 years.

Ray's chess board was designed with the dark squares being slightly elevated, and the tops of the dark pieces having sharper edges compared with the white pieces. Each of the board's squares had a hole to fit the pieces into - much like a travel set (see photo above).

A game between Ray Charles vrs Larry Melvyn Evans in 2002 is available on chessgames.com here.

One of Ray Charles' frequent chess playing partners was Willie Nelson - Willie recounts an interesting chess anecdote at Ray's funeral ... here.

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