Chess + S.T.E.M. + Hip-Hop = Bum Rush the Boards

“They might think they’ve got a pretty good jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids can’t all aspire to be the next LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers.” President of the United States, Barack H. Obama, at the 100-year anniversary of the NAACP

Bum Rush the Boards was created by WBL in 2005 as a one-day hip-hop chess tournament to promote strategic thought and actions within the hip-hop and chess communities. The name of the event was inspired by Public Enemy’s album, “Yo! Bum Rush the Show” released in October 1987.

Choosing a name inspired by a Public Enemy album made perfect sense, as the 2005 inaugural tournament was hosted on the birthday of Malcolm X, Ho Chi Minh and the founding date of the Last Poets. Public Enemy was largely responsible for injecting the speeches and image of Malcolm X into popular culture in the 80s. All of these men approached the ideas of personal and national transformation from a strategic perspective. It was in their spirit that we approached the development of our tournament.

For those that wonder, there is a logical connection between chess and hip-hop considering that hip-hop, as a culture, is highly competitive. It is replete with opportunities to battle and to compete in order to win over crowds, crews, and sponsors. By connecting hip-hop to chess, WBL has created a chess tournament that exposes youth to the arts and strategies that requires them to think ahead, to manage talent and to size up their adversaries. We recognized that these skills were not only useful in both chess and hip-hop, but in business and life, as well. Members of the Wu- Tang Clan, one of hip-hop’s most influential rap groups, have long served as the hip-hop community’s most impactful chess ambassadors. Their unique ability to merge the strategies and principles of chess and kung fu opened the minds of a whole generation to new strategies for success. It is our intention that this festival will continue that legacy.

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