Martial Art of Chess, Promoted by a Rapper

The rapper RZA, a founder of the Wu-Tang Clan, sat in a suite on the 48th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel overlooking Central Park, staring at a chess game through a pair of sunglasses. His hand was frozen a few inches above the board as he looked for a strategy to thwart his opponent.

Chess has long had an important role in the aesthetic of the Wu-Tang Clan, which has songs about the game. In “The Wu-Tang Manual,” a 2005 book about the group and its members, RZA (pronounced RIZ-a) wrote that chess is part of the Wu-Tang essence “because it’s a game of war — it’s about battle. And Wu-Tang was formed in battles, from challenging each other.”

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(Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)