Rza, Gza & Rugged Monk Throw Down at Chess Tourney

Posted: October 17, 2007 by bigced in Articles/Stories I ‘Stole’ From Other Sites

By Davey D

Lots of things have been cracking off this week in the world of Hip Hop-Most of it good and unfortunately, some of it disturbing…

First let’s talk about the good news. Congratulations are in order to Adisa Banjoko of the newly formed Hip Hop Chess Federation and the 1st Annual Chess Kings Kings Invitational Tournament, which was off the hook this past weekend. Special props are in order to the Rza of the famed Wu-Tang Clan as he repped to the fullest. Now, if you ever attended a Wu-Tang concert you will hear the crowd chanting loudly ‘Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to fuck with!‘. In those scenarios the chant is around the incredible music the group puts out. Hands down, there simply isn’t a lot of groups who can get with them. However, that chant can now be applied to the world of chess.

Rza, Gza and Rugged Monk of the Wu-Tang Affiliate the Black Knights were among the Hip Hop stars along with chess masters and UFC fighters who stomped through San Francisco this weekend to go head to head on the 64 squares we call chess. It was a who’s who of people who showed up thus dispelling whatever myth people may have held about the hood or Hip Hop not wanting to sit patiently and play the thinking man’s game of chess.

In the building was Rakaa of Dilated Peoples, Paris, DJ Disk, T-Kash, Balance, Zion I, Amir Sulaiman, Big Rich, Chairman Fred Hampton jr, Minister of Information JR of the POCC, Casual of Hieroglyphics, Sunspot Jonz of Living Legends, Prince Ali, Shamako Noble and D’labarie of Hip Hop Congress, DJ Malcolm Marshall of Street Soldiers, The Brown Berets of Watsonville, Hip Hop pioneer Popmaster Fable of the Rocksteady Crew, long time Bay Area B-Boy Bas-1 are just a few of the people I ran into. I won’t even begin to run down the list of fighters and chess masters who came from as far away as Miami and the UK. Also on hand were scores of youth from various youth programs from around the Bay. The Galleria, where this event was held has 5 floors and 4 of those 5 floors were in full use as intense chess battles took place.

I spoke with Gza at the start of the festivities and he explained how chess is life and how every move you make both in life and on the boards serves a purpose. He spoke in detail about the importance of mentally preparing yourself and sharpening your skillz so that you can handle any situation thrown at you both on the boards and in real life. He also talked about how chess played such a key role in how he constructed his albums. We will post the full audio to that interview which can be heard HERE:


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The tournament itself was intense with the final three remaining people vying for the title being the members of Wu-Tang. Rza went head to head with Gza and took him out setting up an incredible match between him and Rugged Monk. As the game unfolded, victory looked certain for Rugged Monk who was determined to take home the championship belt and scholarship money. He was one or two moves away from beating the Wu-Tang leader when Rza honkered down and lived up to the words he and others had been preaching all afternoon. He remained calm and started out thinking his advesarial situation. In a series of stunning moves involving his rook, Rza came out victorious shocking stunned on lookers and upsetting Rugged Monk who saw certain victory snatched from his hands.

At the end of the event, Rza gave an interview to BET and Current TV which were also in the house and explained that he was able to win because he knew Monk personally. He counted on Monk to lose focus and make a mistake because he was so close to winning. He noted that one has to stay focused until a task is completely done otherwise things will unwind right before your eyes. That final chess match paralleled real life scenarios for many of us who stop short and get lackadasical just before we reach our mark.

Rza also noted that before he came to the tournament his main concern was squaring off with reigning champ DJ Kevvy Kev of KZSU 90.1 FM. The pair often do battle when Rza is in the Bay Area with Kev being the victor on most occasions. In fact during the last Hip Hop Chess tournament it was Rza and Kevvy kev in the finals with Kev taking him out.

Since that time Rza had huddled down and gotten some advise from World Chess camp and martial arts champ Josh Waitzkin. His main problem when dealing with Kevvy kev was countering Kev’s opening sets which usually has him beating opponents in 4 or 5 moves. Rza felt he had developed a sound strategy to over-ride Kev but fortunately for him and sadly for us in attendance the pair did not go head to head as Kev sat this one out.

Also missing in action was DJ Q-Bert who was scheduled to play 10 year world chess champ Emma Bentley from the UK. From the looks of things Q-Bert would want no parts of this young lady as she is no joke on the boards. She easily disposed of famed UFC fighter in a chess match that resulted in most participants staying clear of her unless they wanted their feelings hurt. We also understand that this young lady is also very skilled in the martial arts world. No doubt she’ll return back in February when HHCF holds the Queens Invitational to showcase and bring attention to women chess players.

As for yours truly-Davey D, I squared off with long time freedom fighter, Chairman Fred Hampton jr of the POCC. It was definitely an intense battle as Chairman Fred came out swinging by taking my Queen and Bishop within the first 5 moves of the game. Dude had good opening set and was on a roll however, I stabilized things by enacting my pawn defense and then put forth my pawn offense. Before long I had Fred up against the walls and ready to take him out within 3 moves.

See the thing with me is that the pawns are my favorite pieces. They represent the average ordinary joe in the community who are often overlooked but in reality can do serious damage when organized or in the case of chess, used properly. HHCF founder, Adisa Banjoko noted that the pawns have the most potential because they can be changed to any piece on the board once they reach your opponents back row. Meanwhile all the other pieces will remain as they are no matter what. Chairman Fred was definitely getting mowed over by my pawns.

Sadly like Rugged Monk, I allowed myself to lose focus as victory was within reach, thus allowing a calm Chairman Fred to come back and take me out. My lose was not pretty. As for Chairman Fred, he gave new meaning to the term bragging rights as dude shook hands, took pictures actually conducted several interviews explaining how and why he won. out.

Realizing my mistake I immediately asked for a rematch, but Chairman Fred in typical Chi-town fashion muttered something about ‘revolution’, ‘rallies’ and the importance of ‘seizing the time’ and ending things on a ‘high note’. He then left building as I had to explain to everyone what its like to ‘almost win’. I’ll be headed to Chicago soon and will no doubt be hunting Chairman Fred down in the windy city for my rematch.

Other great matches that afternoon included Sunspot Jonz taking out Paris. For him it was redemption because he had lost earlier in the day to Ralek Gracie. Spoken word artist Amir Sulaiman went up against Casual and lost which then led to the grudge match of the day between Hiero rap star and Rugged Monk. That match between these two real life rivals led to Monk sitting down and going head to head with Rza in the finals.

Once gain this was a great event, which drew out a lots of people and will no doubt only get bigger in the months and years to come.


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