Hip Hop Chess Federation Tournament-San Francisco

Posted Oct 18 2007

On October 13th, 2007 The Hip Hop Chess Federation brought together some of the sharpest hip hop artists, chess players, and martial artists to promote positive living, the youth, and of course, chess. Those who know the history of hip hop, chess, and martial arts understand the connections, which include an emphasis on discipline, self-awareness, and hard-work. Essays could be written on this topic, but let's just say that for many of us who grew up in the '70s and '80s, these three areas are intertwined. But that's for another day...

Celebrities in the house included Balance, K.E.V., Big Rich, Emma Bentley, the 10 year old world chess champion from England, and Josh Waitzken, who the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" was about, although he's much more than that movie. Many others came out to support and compete, as shown below. Additionally, a number of youth from schools and organizations from around the Bay competed for scholarships and other prizes. My school, Oakland Unity High represented, coming in third place, while Leo Lopez of O'Connell H.S. in San Francisco took the individual championship and walked away $1,500 richer! Shout out to Youth Uprising and Muhammad's University of Islam for coming out, as well as the others who participated. In the celebrity tournament, Wu-Tang's RZA took the belt. Special thanks to Adisa, Me'ko, Leo, and others for making this happen! Check out this article and video from the Oakland Tribune.


1. Lucia S. said at May 16, 2008 12:30 am:

I actually attended this event. And, I have to be honest... IT WAS BORING! Dear gosh, we had to wait several hours until the chess team from Unity High School were able to actually face off against competitors. I spent most of my time just walking around along with some fellow students. When a few of my teachers and about eight other students even reached the building (I think it may have been either 10 or 11 AM), security guards as well as a lot of kids were waiting by the door. I didn't understand why that was at first. The students from my school entering the tournament were interviewed and an hour or two later, we got to enter the building. It was huge inside, sort of... well, it was pretty must a few levels high, but the whole area was wide enough. I liked how there was free food just waiting on the tables. I took this opportunity to eat as much as I wanted to because it was basically lunch time anyway. The food was pretty much alright. Didn't have a huge variety. But, after we all finished eating, we just walking around the building. The second and upcoming floors didn't really have a middle area. Such as, at least thirty feet out of the possibly fifty feet of the entire building from one wall to another was missing on the upper floors. So, a few friends of mine and I were just walking aimlessly around waiting for the tournament to start. It was 3 o' clock and the tournament still wasn't starting. I really hated that actually. The Hip-Hop Chess Federation had the nerve to tell people that their building opens at 10AM when really it opens at 12P and didn't even state that the tournament was going to start at nearly 4 PM! And, some guy just HAD to waste even more time by telling people his life story that wasn't necessary AT ALL! Oh, and while I'm at it, apparently, a girl who's suppose to be the best chess player in the world didn't even get to play a SINGLE game! What was the point of inviting her for? Just to waste her time when she could've been doing something productive? I think it was rude how when she finally got the chance to play a game with someone at the end of the tournament, some stupid security guard was telling us and the girl to clear out and leave along with everyone else. I think this Hip-Hop Chess Federation is just a sham to bring out somewhat famous people into the light (there were some featured in this tournament that I never even heard of). I really didn't like the place at all after that and I would've left so much earlier if it wasn't for the fact that I didn't have a ride home. Out of all those wasted hours, only one hour was really spent on people competing in chess. That part was pretty interesting. At least twenty people at a time were playing chess. But, it was all over so quickly as if it didn't happen. My classmates gained money awards for attending this competition, trophies and chess related items. Best part of that day for me was leaving that building to buy some ice cream with two friends of mine. I'm actually disappointed at how lame this tournament was.

2. Martin Rochin said at May 19, 2008 8:08 pm:

I participated in the tournament and although I did enjoy it I do have a couple of complaints. The free food was good and the games progressed pretty smoothly. After the tournament I was happy to leave home with a small trophy and some free shoes but I was a bit disappointed to find out how we were going to get the scholarship money for participating. We had to fill out a form and send it to the college we were going to. The money is appreciated either way but the form makes the process a lot more complicated since the money we will get may also be subtracted from our financial aid money. I think a check would have made things easier for us.

3. Emmanuel said at June 12, 2008 4:04 am:

Wow. I wishe I was there in person. Competing against so many good chess players was not easy to our unity high students and they made it to the finals.

4. mori said at June 13, 2008 5:22 pm:

i agree with lucia and i kind of expected that out of lucia no offense to alfrado and the team but i woul d been bord becuse it's not something im used to.

5. Amado Rosas said at June 19, 2008 6:09 pm:

First of all, I'll have to disagree with some of my peers and their comments. Even though I was an unactive part of the Unity Team, I felt like this was a really nice opportunity to put Unity's name out to the public. Yes, it was a long wait before the tournament started, but it was worth it. I say my peers play hard, and participate in a sport that many people wouldn't do for a hobby. The theme, as well as the name of the Tournament were interesting to me because I would have never found a correlation between chess, hip-hop, and martial arts. The free food and the experience of being there were definately a plus. Perhaps we came out with a handful of free stuff that was chess related and I got to meet some really insteresting people such as Fred Thompson Jr, and T-Kash. I definately agree with Martin, because the process to get the scholarship money was a bit frustrating. I thought that my peers were going to get the money on the spot, but it was a ot more complicated than that. Well, hopefully the next generations of Unity students will enjoy of events like this one.

6. Joe Russell said at November 6, 2008 5:18 am:

I was wondering if anyone had any information as to when this event will take place again in San Francisco... Please contact me at I would like to write an article for SFCHESSNEWS News relevant to San Francisco chess players as reported by your average Joe...

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