Hobbies of Chess Players

Tartakower once said, “Every chessplayer should have a hobby.”  Here are some of the hobbies of chessplayers (and some celebrities whose hobby is chess).

International Master (IM) Bill Addison’s (1933-2008) hobby was Go.

GM Simen Agdestein listed one of his hobbies as ballroom dancer.

Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946) played bridge, ping pong, and wanted to be an actor.  He once listed his hobbies as canoeing, music, horseback riding, painting, and tennis.

Grandmaster (GM) Vishy Anand (1969- ) lists his hobbies as music, reading and swimming.

GM Levon Aronian (1982- ) listed his hobbies as travelling, playing football (soccer), and boxing.

GM Maurice Ashley (1966- ) listed physical fitness as his hobby.

Mary Bain’s (1904-1972) hobby was duplicate bridge.

Mrs. Edith E. Helen Baird (1859-1924) listed her hobbies, besides chess, as archery, tennis, and cycling.  She was the author of 700 Chess Problems.

GM Evegeny Bareev (1966- ) listed his hobbies as poker and downhill skiing.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s (1769-1821) favorite hobby was chess.

GM Mikhail Botvinnik (1911-1995) liked to dance and go on long walks. 

David Bowie (1947- ) lists his hobby as chess.

GM Walter Browne (1949- ) likes to play tennis, poker, and backgammon.

GM Robert Byrne (1928-2013) liked to play tennis.

Jose Capablanca (1888-1942) played baseball, tennis, billiards and golf.  He was also a good bridge player.

World champion Magnus Carlsen (1990- ) lists his hobbies as soccer, tennis, volleyball and reading comic books (his favorite is Donald Duck comics).

GM Larry Christiansen (1956- ) likes to swim, play tennis and water ski.

Eugene Beauharnais Cook (1830-1915) listed his hobbies as mountain climbing and ice skating.  He was a prolific chess problemist.

GM Nigel Davies listed his other hobbies as tai chi, qigong, and financial markets.

Yelena Dembo (1983- ) likes to jog, play table tennis, make candles, and listen to music.

GM Arnold Denker (1914-2005) liked to box.  He was a golden glove boxer in his younger days.

Dr. Nathan Divinsky (1925-2012), who was Dean of the Faculty of Science of the University of British Columbia and chess author, listed bridge and chess as his hobbies.

GM Jaan Ehlvest (1962- ) lists his hobbies as fishing and tennis.

GM Pavel Eljanov (1983- ) of the Ukraine listed his hobby as football (soccer).

Larry Ellison (1944- ), CEO of Oracle, listed chess as one of his hobbies.

Max Euwe (1901-1981) liked to box, swim, play tennis, table tennis, and cycle.  He was an amateur boxer in his younger days.  He also liked to fly and had a pilot’s license.

GM Larry Evans (1932-2010) liked to play blackjack.

GM John Fedorowicz (1958- ) lists his hobbies as reading, cooking, playing and watching sports.

GM Bobby Fischer’s (1943-2008) hobby was visiting art galleries and museums, as well as reading.  He also liked to play tennis, table tennis, and go bowling.

Flea (1962- ) of Red Hot Chili Peppers, lists his hobby as chess.

GM Gildardo Garcia (1954- ) lists his hobbies as soccer, running, and swimming.

GM Boris Gelfand’s (1968- ) hobby is football (soccer).

GM Alexander Goldin (1964- ) lists his hobbies as yoga and meditation.

GM Alexander Grischuk (1983- ) is a poker player.

Anna Hahn (1976- ) lists one of her hobbies as kick-boxing.

Wolfgang Hedenfield (1911-1981) listed his hobbies as poker, bridge, and collecting stamps.

Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934) listed one of his hobbies as chess.

Ron Howard (1954- ) lists chess as his hobby.

GM Ildar Ibragimov (1967- ) lists literature and poetry as his hobbies.

GM Vassily Ivanchuk (1969- ) likes to play soccer, tennis, table tennis, and ice skating.

GM Kata Kamsky (1974- ) likes to play tennis and jog.

GM Sergey Karjakin (1990- ) swims and plays volleyball.

GM Anatoly Karpov (1951- ) collects stamps, play tennis, and swim.  He has collected over 30,000 stamps.  He also listed his other hobbies as theatre, literature, music, sports, writing books and Russian politics.

GM Garry Kasparov (1963- ) likes to play soccer, swim, and cycle.

GM Raymond Keene (1948- ) wrote, “Eating is my main hobby; I like everything.”

GM Paul Keres (1916-1975) liked tennis and table tennis.

Hans Kmoch (1894-1973)’s hobby was writing articles, many of them humorous.

Humpy Koneru (1987- ) listed her hobby as going to the movies.

Alexandria Kosteniuk’s (1984- ) hobby is fashion modeling (and good at it). She also likes to jog.   She was the 12th women’s world chess champion.

GM Vladimir Kramnik (1975- ) likes to swim and play tennis.

GM Irina Krush (1983- ) lists her hobbies as photography, tennis, reading, shopping and rapping!

GM Bent Larsen (1935-2010) had a small hobby pubishing firm.

Emanual Lasker (1868-1941) liked to play bridge and took up golf.  He failed in his pigeon-breeding hobby.

GM Peter Leko (1979- ) listed his hobbies as football (soccer), tennis, bowling, and music.

GM Alex Lenderman (1989- ) lists his hobbies as watching TV, following sports, and math.

Irina Levitina’s (1954- ) hobby is contract bridge.  In contract bridge, she has been 5 times world champion.

Actor Tobey Maguire (1975- ), who played Spiderman and starred in Pawn Sacrifice as Bobby Fischer, listed his favorite hobby as chess.

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyanov (1985- ) lists his hobbies as football (soccer), bowling, music, ping pong, and horse riding.

Marcel Marceau (1923-2007), the world-renowned mime, listed chess as his hobby.

GM Jonathan Mestel’s (1957- ) hobby is contract bridge.

GM Paul Motwani (1962- ) listed his hobbies as films, listening to music, and reading.

Vladmir Nabokov listed chess and lepidopterology (study of moths) as his hobbies.

GM Arkadij Naiditsch (1985- ) lists his hobby as karate.

GM Hikaru Nakamura (1987- ) likes to swim.

GM John Nunn’s (1955- ) hobby is amateur astronomy.

Yoko Ono (1933- ) lists chess as one of her hobbies.

Franz Pachl (1951- ) is a German chess problemist.  His hobby is mini-golf, at which he was German champion in 1977.

GM Tigran Petrosian (1929-1984) was an opera lover.

Francois-Andre Danican Philidor (1726-1795) wrote opera.

Natalia Pogonina (1985- ), a Russian Woman Grandmaster, lists her hobbies as flamenco, music, photography, travelling, sports, literature and poetry.

GM Judit Polgar (1976-) plays ping pong and tennis.  She said her hobbies were animals, skiing, and going to the theatre.

GM Lajos Portisch (1937- ) says his main hobby is singing operatic arias.

GM Alejandro Ramirez (1988- ) listed his hobbies as reading. Tennis, and jogging.

GM Richard Rapport (1996- ) listed his hobbies as cinema, reading, cycling, table tennis, football (soccer), and bodybuilding.

Samuel Reshevsky (1911-1992) listed his hobbies as ice skating, table tennis, and watching television.

RZA (1969- ) of Wu-Tang Clan, lists his hobby as chess.

GM Matthew Sadler (1974- ) stated that chess was now primarily a “hobby” for him.

GM Yasser Seirawan (1960- ) likes to play tennis.

GM Nigel Short (1965- ) was a member of a band called The Urge.

GM Lothar Schmid’s (1928-2013) hobby was collecting old chess manuscripts and literature.

Jennifer Shahade (1980) is a poker player.

Actress Jessica Simpson’s (1980- ) hobby is chess.

Will Smith’s (1968- ) hobby is chess.  He must be taking a beating in his support of the Millionaire Chess Open tournament, which he is a co-sponsor.

GM Vasily Smyslov (1921-2010) was a baritone singer and took boxing lessons.

GM Wesley So (1993- ) listed his hobbies as reading and basketball.  He is also a jogger.

GM Boris Spassky (1937- ) was a high jumper in his youth and liked to play tennis.

Howard Stern’s hobby is chess.  He is a card-carrying member of the Marshall Chess Club

Actor Kiefer Sutherland (1966- ) says his secret hobby is chess.

GM Peter Svidler (1976- ) likes to play tennis and billiards.

GM Mark Taimanov (1926- ) is a concert pianist.

GM Savielly Tartakower’s (1887-1956) hobby was translating poems.

GM Veselin Topalov (1975- ) likes to play tennis.

GM Eugenio Torre (1951) likes to play tennis.

Alan Turing (1912-1954), the British mathematician, listed his hobbies as chess, gardening, long distance running, and water-color painting.

Josh Waitzkin (1976- ) listed his hobbies as basketball, fishing, and free-diving.

Actor Ray Walston (1914-2001) listed his hobbies as chess, fishing, and photography.

IM Anna Zatonskih listed her hobbies as bicycling, ping pong, and scuba diving.

WIM Iryna Zenyuk likes to play volleyball.