Want to help young people? Grab a board.
We're talking about a chess board. Come Saturday, February 11th, in San Jose, the boards will be hot, and so will the turntables.
It'll be time for the 5th annual Hip-Hop Chess Federation tournament. A chance for kids to play chess, meet some of their musical heroes, and learn some important life lessons.
The Federation (HHCF) has been making its way into Bay Area schools, and holding tournaments where kids play, slack-jawed at first, with the hip-hop artists they listen to. Each one has, so far, featured a panel of chess players, rappers, and martial artists talking about why nonviolent pursuits (like chess) will help young people take the time necessary to avoid bad choices, and embrace good choices. In the past, panelists have included rappers like Rza of Wu Tang Clan and Rakaa Iriscience of Dilated Peoples, along with International chess Master Josh Waitzkin. This year, a Jiu Jitsu seminar led by Heroes Martial Arts instructor Alan "Gumby" Marques.
In other words, a little something for everyone. Because while you may not put hip-hop, chess, and martial arts together in the same universe (unless you're a huge Wu Tang Clan fan, where it would all make perfect sense), HHCF founder Adisa Banjoko says the trifecta is a good one for helping young people. "Chess is Jiu Jitsu for the mind," Banjoko says, "Jiu Jitsu is chess for the body." Many a rapper has spoken to kids through the HHCF, pointing out that in chess, the best moves are made after taking an extra second to make sure you're doing the right thing, and not something dangerous.
A good lesson for life.
If you're interested, the HHCF Tournament is free, and it starts at 10am on February 11th, at The Alum Rock Youth Center (137 N. White Road) in San Jose. It runs until 4pm, so stop by if you can. You'll have a good time playing, and listening.
Scott will be there. He’s also on Twitter: @scottbudman