Wu-Tang Clan members RZA and GZA took on chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley and streamers IAmBrandon and Nate Hill in a chess tournament for charity over the weekend.
The rappers and streamers faced each other in live quarterfinal matches streamed on Twitch, before progressing to a single-game match to decide who faced Ashley, who attained grandmaster status in 1999 - making him the first Black grandmaster - and is a member of the US Chess Hall of Fame.
The star-studded Make Your Move tournament was organised by online chess outlet Chess.com and cognac maker Hennessy in benefit of One Hundred Black Men, the Hispanic Federation and the Asian American Business Development Center as part of Hennessy’s Unfinished Business initiative, which supports Black, Latinx and Asian-American small businesses with grants. The drinks maker matched donations up to $250,000 made during the Twitch stream.
RZA and GZA - who are cousins as well as founding members of the acclaimed hip-hop act - have long been public exponents for chess. The group’s 1993 debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) features a song called Da Mystery of Chessboxin’, while GZA released a chess-themed album, Grandmasters, in 2005. RZA is the director of development for the Hip-Hop Chess Federation, and has won its championships multiple times.
The matches were played with time control of 10 minutes, with a two-second increment. The final against Ashley was a time-odds match, with Ashley getting just one minute to his opponent’s 10. Providing post-match analysis alongside Ashley were grandmaster Robert Hess and national master James Canty.
Catch the Make Your Move tournament in full below.