If you thought chess was a game for old dudes with goiters, Market Street hustlers, and nerdy four-eyes kids, think again. The South Bay-based Hip Hop Chess Federation (HHCF) has completely redefined the image chess by making it a kid-friendly, urban art form emphasizing life skills. Thanks to the HHC, chess is suddenly cool; they've brought a whole new dimension to the classic game of mathematic strategy. Past HHCF events have featured hip-hop luminaries such as Wu-Tang's RZA and GZA; Dilated Peoples' Rakaa; political emcees Paris and Immortal Technique; and a wealth of local stars, including Q-Bert, San Quinn, Balance, Casual, and filmmaker Kevin Epps. Chess champ and best-selling author Josh Waitzkin and MMA fighter Ralek Gracie have also been featured participants. The 64 squares are no longer just for squares, it seems.
Coming on the heels off recent appearances on "Good Morning America" and NBC 11 (the HHCF has also been featured in the New York Times and XXL), "Mind Over Matter II" combines a celebrity chess tournament (featuring RZA, Casual and poet Amir Sulaiman), a life strategies panel discussion, and jiu-jitsu exhibitions by Alan "Gumby" Marques from Heroes Martial Arts, Denny "300" Prokopos from 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, and rope dart master Don Kiolbassa. "Mind Over Matter II" happens February 28th at John O'Connell High School (2355 Folsom St.) from 11 am-5 pm, and is FREE to watch or participate. Watch a YouTube clip here.