News From The 36th Chamber

Wu Wisdom: Chess as an Element of Life

Kenny Goodman

The following is an excerpt from Wu-Tang Manual written by The RZA.

Chess is a very important element of Wu-Tang. It's an important element of life. It teaches you how to exist in the world. It teaches you to think multiples moves ahead, to strategize. It teaches you how to attack, how to defend.

It's one game niggas like to play just to test the mind—it's very relaxing and a good way to release stress. To me that's a perfect afternoon: playing chess all day, watching kung-fu movies, smoking a few blunts, and making a beat—I'm in heaven.

But chess also gets very, very serious. You talk with any true player, he takes it like a life-or-death experience.

I learned chess when I was eleven years old, from a girl. The same girl who took my virginity, she also taught me how to play chess. I started to love the game as a game—it's fun, it's a thinking game. When I was growing up, I used to go to Wall Street and hang at the park and play the old men, get whipped, start playing for money. But as I got older, I realized that chess was more than a game.

It's a strategic game that helps to calculate life, business, power moves. A good chess player can think three to four moves ahead. If you can do that, you can really manipulate a situation so that you're winning.

Additional Reading: Bobby, Bruce & the Bronx: The Secrets of Hip-Hop Chess


  • Ramont K Williams

    “THE INVISIBLE MAN " I do enjoy a nice chess game . It teaches me to practice spiritual principles. Patience, acceptance, courage, faith, empathy, compassion, compromise, openmindedness, willingness, and the purest form of honesty that cannot be desquised.

  • L.B

    Come and have a go if you think you can beat me?.


    Chess is a game that I’m advocating that should be a necessary recreational elective in the elementary and high school curriculum. For the very reason that its implied in the article, our children need this diagram or metaphor of defense, just to cope or Challenge the environment that’s already government enforced to profit off poverty. I BELIEVE EVERY CHILD SHOULD LEARN THE GAME OF CHESS, AS WELL AS ENROLL IN ONE OR TWO YEARS OF MANDATORY MILITARY TRAINING, WHILE ATTENDING COLLEGE CLASSES.. WE WILL SEE A MAJOR DIFFERENCE IN SOCIETY..


  • Billy Shaw

    I started playing chess in 93 age 13 as result of the Wu-Tang influence. I learned in reform school. I played in harvard square challenging profs and students. Went to NYC to play Columbus circle and Bryant Park. Where I continue to return, and on the 64 squares I continue to grow with the help of the Wu. Thank you guys. Come see the kid with the 64 tattoo on his neck. I love to play , and make new friends.

  • Fionn O'Shea

    Playing Chess is one time where I can literally feel my brain getting exercise, all thoughts outside of the battle are non-existent.

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