Legends mingle at Hip-Hop Event!

IM Emory Tate with RZA of the Wu Tang Clan. Classic!
IM Emory Tate with the RZA of the Wu Tang Clan. Hip-hop and chess will never be the same.
Photo by Eric K. Arnold.

Those who know hip-hop will know about the Wu Tang Clan, a revolutionary 90s group who set the trend by fusing hip-hop with martial arts themes. RZA, the visionary leader of the Wu Tang is a longtime chess aficionado and has supported the Hip-Hop Chess Federation’s initiative since its inception. He also launched his own wuchess.com website.

RZA was at John O’Connell High School with his posse when he met his legendary counterpart, International Master Emory Tate. This was an improbable match given that Tate has just returned from Mexico and was in the bay area with a fellow chessplayer. This chess player got a phone call from Adisa Banjoko. Banjoko told The Chess Drum,

Bro, it happened out of the blue. Literally 10 hrs. before the event, my boy Cisco calls me from his house out here in the Bay….He was like “Emory is chillin’ with me watching TV”. Now, neither of them new the HHCF was the next day. I was like, “Ummmmm, what y’all doing tomorrow”? He was like, nothin’!! I proceeded to beg him to come out, and he was AMAZING….He was on the panel. He played RZA. He was one of the last ones to leave. He was laughing, joking, TEACHING the people. I thanked The Chess Drum closing the panel. ‘Cause I did not know about him until you. I told him that on the phone…It was all divine timing. In large part to your efforts.

Banjoko explained to Tate what the event was and how badly he was needed. Tate immediately agreed to attend. It was then that the meeting of the minds would happen. RZA, Rakaa Iriescience of Dialated Peoples, martial artist Dan Kiolbassa and Tate took the microphone and shared their own view in the prism of chess ideas. After that there were many battles including RZA vs. Tate and Monk vs. Elliott Liu. Long-time chess organizer and National Master Eric Schiller and the BayChess organization lended their support.

A full report is coming, but until then the video below may provide a snapshot of what happened. Enjoy!


  1. Tate is really a good speaker. He should go on tour for speaking engagements and he need to write a book about his journey in the chess world. Most chess players know Tate as an attacker, but he is a great defender also. At the Liberty Bell Open, Philadelphia, this year he was playing IM Bryan Smith (Brain have been winning some major tournaments lately and his rating is over 2500) it was the last round. If Tate lost, IM Jay Bonin would take clear first; Bonin approached me just outside the tournament room and said, “I’m very happy with my play this tournament, Bryan is a pawn up and have a winning position against Tate; I should come in clear first (under 2400); Tate will need some magic to save this game”. I was following Tate’s game and Jerald Times’ game. Tate’s position did look rather scary. Well, the magic happen and Tate saved the half point. Its great what Banjoko is trying to accomplish. Maybe he can bring some public notice to chess and help children at the same time. Chess needs him and his vision, its a different variation from the usual USCF public relations. Although, the position he had against Tate in the video reveals his playing strength is about 1400. Hey, Banjoko f7 is hanging. Keep up the great work, man.

  2. That was famous rapper RZA in the video playing Tate losing f7. RZA played in “The American Gangster” with Denzel. He also wrote some of the tracks for the movie “Kill Bill.” Wu Tang Clan is not what it used to be in the 90s, but still a very influential group.

    Tate vs. RZA after white's Ng5!

    RZA position was busted… maybe lose an exchange since Be6 doesn’t work. Has to move the king somewhere. In the video with the panel, Banjoko is the brother introducing the panel. He has the HHCF shirt and black kufi on. I’m trying to get him to come to the World Open. His wife is expecting in June, so that may be hard. I need to talk to you about putting something together in Philly.

  3. Oh! My younger brother, Paul, turned me on to the Wu Tang Clan a couple of years ago. Those brothers have talent; I love their music. Last week was the first time I saw the movie “Kill Bill” great sound tracks and great movie. I had no idea that some of the sounds tracks were by Wu Tang Clan. I’m open to projects in Philly, just email me or call.

  4. Y’all brothers spittin, straight spittin! now im really sorry i didnt make it out but i see ya got the Enigmatic Emory there! Yo Rza tellin what PEACE means again i didnt hear that!!! HAHAHA but just dont tell them Fischer went to see Denzel( a genius ) in the movie American Gangster before he passed away, but we’re not suppose to know that. Bobby alwasy studied our African geniuses anyway. PEACE.

  5. Interesting story about a proposed match between President Obama and his staff and school kids. They have sent a letter to the President with an autographed chess set. The article discusses the concept of “hip-hop chess,” but she states there are only two school using this theme. Actually there are about 4-5 schools that have used this fusion to invoke positive social interactions.

    The first attempt to formalize “hip-hop chess” was by a young man in New Orleans who launched “urbanchess.com”. His site had music tracks and a discussion board and the vision was to provide a forum where hip-hop enthusiasts could socialize over games of chess. The site was featured in New In Chess, but shortly thereafter disappeared from the cyberworld.

    Source: https://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0320/p09s02-coop.html

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