Monday, July 30, 2007

The Best Use of the Black vs. White Metaphor

We will let the clip speak for itself. Very chessic. Everybody's kid needs a Samurai Jack DVD in their dresser!

Che and Chess!

Cuban revolutionary, Che was a lover of the 64 squares. I think it is really cool how no matter if you look at great republicans, democrats, or socialists chess is one thing everybody can agree on. I think it'd be great if more leaders across the planet played chess with one another openly. I know publically too many egos might get hurt, but I bet they'd learn alot. Right now, private games should at least take place at U.N. meetings. Chess keeps you human and does not allow you to ignore the humanity and intelligence of "the other".

Anyway, despite Che's love for the game he apparently was not that great of a player. He reportedly played Russian chess monster
Viktor Korchnoi in Havana (this was in 1963) and was beaten several times. Apparently Korchnoi entagled Che in the Catalan and Che was never able to get out.

As popular as it is, the story is kind of unfair to Che. I mean, if the main story of me playing hoops was the one where I played Jordan- how good could I look?!? LOL. Korchnoi was not to be trifled with on the boards.

If you guys find any photos of famous American politicians or world leaders playing chess or, if you find cool stories about them on the 64- let us know. We don't care about the politicians so much, we care about chess!

Papoose "Playin' Chess"

This is one of the best songs ever made on the relationship between chess and life. In the beginning, there is a clip of Samuel Jackson talking from the movie "Fresh". He curses once in that clip. So, kids, get your parents persmission before you listen!!

Chess-Inspired Hip-Hop Album Covers

For anyone else who has questions about the relationship between Hip-Hop and Chess, to quote the mighty Chuck D, "Here it is, Baaaaammm!"

Professor Griff - Pawns in the Game (top left), Genius/GZA - Liquid Swords (top right)
MF Doom/MF Grimm - Self titled (bottom left), Rob Swift - Wargames (bottom middle), DJ Muggs vs. Gza - Grandmasters (bottom right)

One of the main purposes of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation blog is to give you the physical proof of the relationship between Hip-Hop, chess and martial arts. Beyond the beautiful artwork, these are some of the most lyrical records ever made. Professor Griff really paved the way for spoken word in Hip-Hop with his first LP. This is the cover for his first single Pawns in the Game. GZA is one of the best lyricists in the history of the game. He did the first and only album dedicated to the Royal Game. Rob Swift made one of the best political LPs ever without even speaking on it (He's a DJ). Rob Swift's Wargames is a must have. MF Doom and MF Grimm have ran the underground for a long time with dope rhymes. Support these artists by going to their shows, BUY their music (don't just download it) and pick up any t-shirts, etc. you can find on 'em.

Real quick, if any of you guys find cool Hip-Hop album covers that were inspired by Chess, please email Leo Libiran at We'll make sure to give you a shout out and link to your site or blog when we run it. Peace.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Arnold Schwarzenegger on "Chess and Children"

Taken from the book “I Choose to Stay” by Salome Thomas-El

In the Forward of the book, Arnold writes:

“Chess is a game requiring skill, planning, strategy, determination and courage…This was his secret to teaching these kids confidence, showing them hope and creating a recipe for success they had never known before…There was one girl, Denise Pickard, who was about thirteen years old. She had worked so hard ro master the game and was determined to beat the Terminator. So I challenged her to try to win, and while I would normally be upset to lose-to anyone-even I was happy as I heard her say ‘checkmate’…Time and time again we adults have let kids down by not living up ot our promises and expectations in terms of setting the proper foundation for kids to grow and prosper. It is our job, our most important responsibility to take every step necessary to ensure that kids from all walks have a fighting chance.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Chess, planning and consistent strategizing has taken Arnold from the stage of showing his physical strength, to displaying his political strength. You gotta respect that.

Be sure to pick up I Choose to Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City by Salome Thomas-El.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kings Gambit: On the 65th Square with Wu-Tang's GZA

What would happen if you took one of the world's greatest rappers and put him in the studio with one of the greatest producers? Then lets say you left a chessboard in the studio with them?

The end result: "Muggs Vs. GZA Grandmasters". It's a new groundbreaking CD that blends Hip-Hop and chess principles.

Of all of the chess players in Hip-Hop, none seem to be as passionate as GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan. The Wu-Tang Clan is responsible for a majority of chess philosophy in Hip-Hop today. World renown producer DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill also carries a passion for the 64 squares of eternal combat. Their latest release “Muggs Vs. GZA: Grandmasters” is in stores now and is in my opinion a musical masterpiece.

GZA is arguably one of the rap world's most intelligent and artistic MC’s ever. His demeanor like flow is calm, clever and consistent. In this interview we talk about the making of the “Grandmasters” LP, how he came to love chess and of course - his ridiculous rhyme style. Big props to Miranda Jane, Chace, Muggs and the entire Angeles Records fam for helping to make this happen.

Adisa Banjoko: I have been fascinated with the relationship between Hip Hop and chess for years. So, obviously when I heard about the creation of “Grandmasters” I was excited. Tell me how this album was made.

GZA: I had gotten a few tracks from Muggs. We had talked before about doing an album. We worked on a few “Soul Assassins’ project. He came to NY about a year ago and he played for me. I took them home. Then I came out to LA to record them. I recorded the album in about eight days. I only had three written when I went out there. Because I take a lot of notes, but not everything was in song form. I worked every day.

AB: Did you have the chess idea before you recorded? Or did the chess concept come later?

GZA: I said to myself about two years ago “Chess is so crazy, I could do a whole album on chess”. But I did not wanna do it in an obvious way. Every song would not be “King, Queen” – that’s a simple way of doing things.

In a lot of things that I rhyme about I mention war, and other concepts that are related to chess. So, I thought about it. When we recorded the album we played chess in the studio everyday. When I arrived, there was a chessboard in the studio. I did not know if they had it there because they knew I loved it, or did they play. I was playing chess with the engineer, the assistant engineer and with Muggs. I also played with the studio manager.

When the album was done, Muggs had the idea of calling it “Grandmasters”. I thought the idea was great because I consider Muggs a Grandmaster producer and I consider myself a Grandmaster MC. We still did not have hooks for the songs though. All the chess stuff came last. That’s usually how I work.

AB: Do you remember when chess moved from just something you like to actually becoming a personal passion?

GZA: It was something I learned when I was a kid. It was 1975. I was about nine years old I think. My cousin taught me. The pieces were glass, like a lavender-pink, and a yellowish gold. Almost like neon. He taught me. It was the only game I played that night. I never forgot the names of the pieces or how they moved.

I didn’t play anymore until 1992. I never played again until 92. I started playing then and that’s when the passion came. I started playing with Masta Killa, Jeru the Damaja, Afu- Ra, RZA. It was funny because my whole childhood with RZA, chess was never a part of that. I don’t know when he learned. But we were always around one another – all our lives. We played cards, dice, monopoly, checkers – we grew up together. But us playing chess together did not happen until Wu-Tang.

A lot of those times back in the day those guys were beating up on me on the chessboards. I started learning from them, but then I didn’t pick up a book until 2002! I forget what the first one was called, I think it was called “Beginning Chess”. When I picked it up, I said to myself “I been playin’ chess from 92 to 02 and I now realize I don’t know sh*t about chess”. Isn’t that f***ed up?

AB: That happened to me. I got the Chessmaster 10th Edition video game and I never knew anything about the general principles and all that stuff. All that “Knights before bishops” I never knew that.

GZA: Amazing isn’t it? I didn’t know anything about a tempo, or losing time. I was able to take what I got from that and win a couple games.

AB: One of the things that impressed me with this album was your ability to take stories and wrap them around chess concepts. Like, “Exploitation of Mistakes”.

GZA: That came later to. The album was done. Muggs had the title of the album. But other than All In together Now, and Those That’s Bout it, I wanted the rest to be about chess. So, I wrote down all of these chess terms, and I picked the terms, matched them to the songs and gave the list to Muggs to match song titles to. Out of the twelve songs we matched about ten of them the same way.

“Exploitation of Mistakes” is a song about an unsolved murder. It’s about how criminals get caught-errors and mistakes. I thought “General Principles” was a good single for the album because I was talking about all the elements of Hip Hop [DJ’ing, MC’s Graff and B-boy’ing]. There’s a song about some women called “Queens Gambit”. So, they matched up well.

AB: Where would you put your rating at? I actually suck at chess. I’m horrible. On average, I think about 800. If I’m on fire, I’d be about 1100.

GZA: You can’t be 800. I mean, Yahoo! Chess starts you at 1200. I’d say I’m about 1600 to 2000. On Yahoo! I usually stay in the 1300’s. Sometimes I go down to the 1200’s because I lose a lot on time. I might be cookin’ or go downstairs a make a bowl of cereal. I might be on the phone (laughs). It’s not a good thing to be doing [being so distracted when playing]. But it’s about one outta fifty that get me. I usually meet my match when I get to the 1600’s.

AB: You are regarded by many to be one of the greatest, and the most under-appreciated lyricists in Hip-Hop. You are one of the few rappers who need their fans to grow, so that your work is fully appreciated. You are one of the few artists since Rakim and Public Enemy really where I had to grow to fully understand some of your lyrics. This happened on the Soul Assassins Vol. 2 track where you said “C file 8th rank/ ship sank”. Now, I was into chess, but I never understood the algebraic notation until this year. So, it wasn’t until this year that line touched me.

GZA: Thank you I hear that now an then. I appreciate that. That’s how it should be. Certain things Rakim said, I didn’t catch till like five years later. The song “Musical Masacre”, Rakim is speaking in one verse about the Wizard of Oz. I knew that rhyme word for word. But a few years ago I was listening to it and I heard it “courage heart, brains- you need rhymes”. He didn’t mention Dorthy. He didn’t mention Toto.

I always make sure one line connects to the other. Rakim said once “I’ll wire a rhyme in graffiti and, each show you see me in”…I actually wrote one of my best rhymes in graffiti. When I heard that I was like “That, is a microphone fiend”.

AB: I knew he was talking about the Wizard of Oz from the “Over the Rainbow” line, but all that part, I did not know until know. Can we play on Yahoo! Chess One day?

GZA: Sure. I wish I would have gotten into chess younger. If I had, I’d be a Grand Master right now - no doubt!

Immortal Game Author David Shenk & Art of Learning Author Josh Waitzkin Share The Wisdom of the 64 Squares

Of all the history books I have read on chess, nothing compares to The Immortal Game. Written by David Shenk, it gives the reader fantastic details on the creation, evolution and innovations on the Royal Game.

The main thing I walked away from is that every individual, race, religion or culture that has dedicated itself to the 64 squares - has been enriched. The game has never betrayed its player. Indians, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Whites, Blacks, Latinos, Chinese, Russians, Cubans, Americans etc. - all beneficiaries of the 64 squares. There is also a great section on technology and chess. Sooooo deep. I have read several books on chess history. But The Immortal Game stands alone as the most complete, most fun to read, most informational and (for me the most important) its the most human.

Josh Waitzkin is author of The Art of Learning and one of the first supporters of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation. He gave his time and his spirit to what we envisioned and we are grateful for that. The Art of Learning was named the official book of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation because of its wisdom, strength and beauty. For anyone looking for the connections between chess and marital arts- look no further.

If you are a student, parent, teacher, chess lover or martial artist this is book is a must read. You will not only learn what holds other people back from what they want. You'll also learn whats held YOU back from the things you want out of life. Be clear, this book is not a sappy self help book. It gives the reader realistic options for improving their ability to get what they want out of life. My only problem with The Art of Learning, was that I wished he wrote the book earlier. I needed this book a long time ago! The Art of Learning is mandatory reading for anyone trying to understand the Hip-Hop Chess Federation.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Founding Father and Chess Author, Benjamin Franklin

On The Morals of Chess

The game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement. Several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready on all occasions.

1. Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action; for it is continually occuring to the player, 'If I move this piece, what will be the advantages or disadvantages of my new situation? What use can my adversary make of it to annoy me? What other moves can I make to support it, and to defend myself from his attacks?

2. Circumspection, which surveys the whole chessboard, or scene of action; the relations of the several pieces and situations, the dangers they are respectively exposed to, the several possibilities of their aiding each other, the probabilities that the adversary may make this or that move, and attack this or the other piece, and what different means can be used to avoid his stroke, or turn its consequences against him.

3. Caution, not to make our moves too hastily. This habit is best acquired, by observing strictly the laws of the game; such as, If you touch a piece, you must move it somewhere; if you set it down, you must let it stand. And it is therefore best that these rules should be observed, as the game becomes thereby more the image of human life, and particularly of war . . .

And lastly, we learn by Chess the habit of not being discouraged by present appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favourable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources. The game is so full of events, there is such a variety of turns in it, the fortune of it is so subject to sudden vicissitudes, and one so frequently, after long contemplation, discovers the means of extricating one's self from a supposed insurmountable difficulty, that one is encouraged to continue the contest to the last, in hopes of victory from our own skill, or at least of getting a stalemate from the negligence of our adversary . . .

If your adversary is long in playing, you ought not to hurry him, or express any uneasiness at his delay. You should not sing, nor whistle, nor look at your watch, not take up a book to read, nor make a tapping with your feet on the floor, or with your fingers on the table, nor do anything that may disturb his attention. For all these things displease; and they do not show your skill in playing, but your craftiness or your rudeness.

You ought not to endeavour to amuse and deceive your adversary, by pretending to have made bad moves, and saying that you have now lost the game, in order to make him secure and careless, and inattentive to your schemes: for this is fraud and deceit, not skill in the game.

You must not, when you have gained a victory, use any triumphing or insulting expression, nor show too much pleasure; but endeavour to console your adversary, and make him less dissatisfied with himself, by every kind of civil expression that may be used with truth, such as 'you understand the game better than I, but you are a little inattentive;' or, 'you play too fast;' or, 'you had the best of the game, but something happened to divert your thoughts, and that turned it in my favour.'

If you are a spectator while others play, observe the most perfect silence. For, if you give advice, you offend both parties, him against whom you give it, because it may cause the loss of his game, him in whose favour you give it, because, though it be good, and he follows it, he loses the pleasure he might have had, if you had permitted him to think until it had occurred to himself. Even after a move or moves, you must not, by replacing the pieces, show how they might have been placed better; for that displeases, and may occasion disputes and doubts about their true situation. All talking to the players lessens or diverts their attention, and is therefore unpleasing.

Lastly, if the game is not to be played rigorously, according to the rules above mentioned, then moderate your desire of victory over your adversary, and be pleased with one over yourself. Snatch not eagerly at every advantage offered by his unskilfulness or inattention; but point out to him kindly, that by such a move he places or leaves a piece in danger and unsupported; that by another he will put his king in a perilous situation, etc. By this generous civility (so opposite to the unfairness above forbidden) you may, indeed, happen to lose the game to your opponent; but you will win what is better, his esteem, his respect, and his affection, together with the silent approbation and goodwill of impartial spectators.

Josh Waitzkin's Art of Learning

Josh Waitzkin's Art of Learning is the official book of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation for teens and young adults.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hip-Hop, Chess and Life Strategies II

If you have never seen the relationship between Hip-Hop, chess and martial arts, look again!

Martial arts films and the Eastern Philosophy hit the streets via Bruce Lee, Jet Li and others...

Political rap groups like Public Enemy, Professor Griff and EPMD originated the platform for Hip-Hop and chess to spawn...

Wu-Tang Clan revived the Hip-Hop and Chess movement...

Turntable Timmy (The official kids book of the HHCF) pushes the idea of having a strategy for success...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hip Hop, Chess and Life Strategies 2 Pre-Flyer

2/23/07: Hip Hop, Chess & Life Strategies

Hip-Hop Chess Don't Stop!

About the Hip Hop Chess Federation:

Founded by award wining Lecturer and Author, Adisa Banjoko and Hip-Hop graphic artist Leo Libiran, this organization is dedicated to providing an inclusive setting for individuals to interact, play and develop life strategies skills with people they view as mentors.

“Despite the school systems best efforts and intentions, and the efforts of overworked parents, the past generations have suffered from lack of suitable education and essential resources required for a successful life,”, states co-founder Adisa Banjoko, “We recognized that chess, martial arts and hip-hop unify people from multiple cultural, religious and social backgrounds. These black and white squares do not care what color you are or if you are rich or poor. The only thing they ask is show me your strategy, your patience, your skills.”

Along with recreational activities, the Hip Hop Chess Federation will provide services such as life strategy workshops and sponsor supported education scholarships. Studies show chess provides invaluable life lessons such as patience, personal accountability, focus, emotional intelligence and understanding the consequences of your actions before you act. “I recently learned of a study that illustrated prisoners participating in chess clubs had an 85% less chance of returning to prison after their release,” Banjoko says, “I want to bring chess to the communities and get to the kids before the prison system gets to them”.

After nearly two years in the making, the Hip Hop Chess Federation launched their nationwide tour on February 23, 2007 in San Jose, CA. Rappers, movie producers, mixed martial art (MMA) fighters and other entertainers volunteered their time to support the community. Volunteers included world renowned DJ QBert, International chess Master Vinay Bhat, Casual from the legendary Hieroglyphics, award winning filmmaker Kevin Epps and martial artists champions like Denny Prokopos and Alan “Gumby” Marques. These names drew crowds from all over California, filling room at the Martin Luther King Library beyond capacity.

The inaugural event was so far beyond our expectations. We knew that expanding the minds of today’s youth could be reached through such an event, but I was amazed on the response during and after the tournament” Libiran adds, “We have received request from New York, Chicago, Texas and as far as London, to bring the tournament to their most popular cities. It is amazing, exciting and rewarding all at the same time.”

Uproxx Covers HHCF Founder plus, FREE PDF download of Bobby Bruce and the Bronx Available

The book Bobby Bruce & the Bronx by Adisa the Bishop is now available from this day forward FREE in PDF form. Please enjoy it and share ...