“I guess I remember it well because he had a black and red checkerboard, but the pieces were like clear plastic neon,” GZA tells The Washington Post in a video interview, who said he never forgot the lesson. “And they were weird colored, and they were caked in green. And he showed me the names of the pieces and how they moved.”
But those were just the basics. “I really started to play with Masta Killa,” said GZA.
RZA said he started playing chess at age 11, which surprises GZA because they grew up together at the Staten Island neighborhood of Park Hill. GZA said they spent a lot of time in recreation centers where they met to play “stickball, Wiffle ball, Skully, Monopoly, Parcheesi, Trouble.”
“There was everything but a chess board!” GZA said. “And it just struck me, wow we never played each other as children.”