The quiet of chess meets the beat of hip hop

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) —  At first glance, the idea of mixing the slow game of chess with the fast pace of hip hop might not make sense.

But the crowd that comes to the Hip Hop Chess Club every Monday seems to thrive with combination.

Just ask founder Eric “Krook Rock” Mercado.

“You see this,” Mercado says to a young player, referring to a recent move of a pawn. “I did this because later on you’re going to forget that I did that and you’re going to leave this wide open.”

Mercado has loved both hip hop and chess for quite awhile, but he knew a club that offered just the 1,500-year-old game might not work.

“Getting people into it is not easy if you tell them just come play chess,” he said. “Adding the element of hip hop brings more intrigue to it.”

You do notice a few similarities between the moves on the chess board and the moves on the soundboard. Both involve a certain level of precision, and patience is also important in the two apparent opposites.

“People think it’s just a game. But then when they really start to play chess, they realize it’s more than just a simple game,” Mercado said. “I’m going to beat you. You’re actually learning a lot about life. Patience. Consequences.”

Mercado believes the disciplines learned in the Hip Hop Chess Club can also translate to the classroom and beyond.

“While we’re teaching them about chess, we teach them about life in general.”

The Hip Hop Chess Club meets every Monday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at La Broa Pizza at 925 Broad Street in Providence. 

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