If you ever pegged RZA as someone who played chess, the kind of player willing to take on all-comers at a tournament of the game of kings, then congratulations–you're a better judge of character than I am. Let that sink in for a second…RZA of Wu-Tang Clan is participating in the Chess Kings Invitational at the Anaheim Business Expo, a celebrity chess tournament this weekend. Just when you don't think the story can get any better, it does.
The rapper will defend his title in an eight-man speed chess tournament (whatever that means). RZA won the first HHCF (Hip-Hop Chess Federation) heavyweight title belt in 2007. Who knew chess had weigh classes, let alone championship belts?! Incredulously, this sounds like something that should be broadcasted on the Ocho (remember that channel in Dodgeball?) at minimum, maybe even Pay-Per-View.
RZA isn't the only celebrity who will be throwing down in the tourney. Other rappers including Dilated Peoples' Rakaa Iriscience, Mike Relm, DJ Rob Flow, and Quadir Lateef are also slated to participate in the event.
All of this boils down to who knew there was such a prominent chess scene in the hip-hop community? Before this, the only chess player I ever heard of was Bobby Fischer, and it has been well documented about his own personal demons, but knowing that, one can't help but shake his or her head with disbelief at this event. What's next, country singers racing horses? Better yet, what about rock bands owning sports teams? Oh, wait. While all seem unlikely, stranger things have happened, like Elvis hanging with Richard Nixon.
"I am looking forward to the upcoming chess battle at the HHCF Chess Kings Invitational in Los Angeles," the man who played Samurai Apocalypse in Californication said in a press release. "To those knowing I have to defend my belt, get ready to protect ya neck."
If that doesn't warm your heart, I honestly don't know what will. While this comes as a surprise to me, apparently the rapper has had his own chess app since the end of 2011. I never would have thought a member of Wu-Tang would be a master chess player. Then again, I'm probably stupid to think otherwise knowing the Tao of the Wu and all.
The silver lining of the event is that it's for charity. The funds generated from this event will go to public schools in Los Angeles. So if you're bored this weekend, head down to the event and hey, you may experience something you never have before. And since when is that a bad thing?