Rza Crowned Hip-Hop Chess Champ

The Wu-Tang Clan’s Rza isn’t just good at producing. No, he’s also a wiz at chess apparently.

The rapper was crowned the winner of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation’s (HHCF) 1st Annual Chess Kings Invitational Champion Belt on Saturday (October 13), beating out several of his hip-hop peers and celebs.

According to reports, over five hundred spectators watched the chess matches — which included celebrity players such as the Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA and Monk, MMA fighter Ralek Gracie, rapper Paris, spoken word poet Amir Sulaiman, Casual from Hieroglyphics, and Sunspot Jonz of Living Legends.

The championship match pitted the Rza against one of his own in Monk, who started off strong snatching many of the Rza’s pieces before a surprising turn of events led to the Rza calling out the words “checkmate,” winning the entire tournament.

After the winning match, legendary Pop-Master Fabel of the Universal Zulu Nation handed Rza the 20 lb leather gold plated belt, who raised the belt in victory.

All artists involved volunteered their time, helping the HHCF raise and give away $10,000 in educational scholarships. Education scholarships were awarded to the participants from Oakland’s Unity High, Youth Uprising, San Francisco’s O’Connell High and Muhammad University of Islam.

Despite the excitement of Rza’s win, the organization did not forget to remind people who the real winners that day were — the kids.

“The children are the real winners today,” said co-founder Adisa Banjoko. “The undeniable success of the Chess Kings Invitational is a powerful testament to a new era of philanthropy within hip-hop.”

Additionally, there was a special match that took place during the tournament as well. MMA fighter Ralek Gracie faced Emma Bentley, the 10-year-old Jr. World Champion who journeyed from the UK to participate. The young chess player reportedly checkmated the fight in an astounding thirty seconds.

The success of the event prompted HHCF to name RZA, Director of Development, in which he will oversee many of the HHCF community outreach efforts to troubled youth.

In February 2008, they plan to host the All Queens Invitational centered on bringing more young women into chess.

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