In January 1607, the first musical connection with a chess theme occurred. It was called Ballet des Eschecs (Ballet of chess).
Francois-Andre Danican Philidor (1726-1795) was a famous music composer. He was exposed to chess by the musicians in the French king's court, who played chess during spells of inactivity. At the age of 11 he was composing music for Louis XV. He made an early living by copying music and giving music lessons. In 765 he composed the opera Tom Jones. He wrote over 20 operas in his career. The opera house in Paris has a bust of Philidor.
In 1809, the first opera with a chess theme was performed. The opera, Das Schachturnier (the chess tournament), was composed by Traugott Maximilian Eberwein (1775-1831). It first appeared in Rudolstadt, Germany.
In 1836, a musical romance called Zazesizosu! was staged at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, in London. One of the songs was called Island of Chess.
From 1852 to 1855, Armand Edward Blackmar (1826-1888), of Blackmar-Diemer Gambit fame, was professor of music at Centenary College in Jackson, Louisiana.
In the 1850s, Paul Morphy (1837-1884) was able to memorize any piece of music after hearing it a single time.
In the 1860s, Armand Edward Blackmar was the most successful publisher of music of the Confederacy during the Civil War. He was best known for the patriotic songs he wrote for the South. During the Civil War, Armand worked out of New Orleans until a Union raid, led by General Benjamin Butler (1818-1893), on his business forced him to cease working and arrested Blackmar. He was imprisoned by Union soldiers in New Orleans for publishing "seditious" (Confederate) music, such as the Bonnie Blue Flag (Band of Brothers) and the Dixie War Song. After the Civil War, he opened up a music store in New Orleans.
In 1864, Hungarian composer and pianist Ferenc Erkel (1810-1893) was president of the first Hungarian chess organization.
In the 1870s, chess problemist Sam Loyd (1841-1911) owned a chain of music stores.
In 1881, there was an article entitled, “Mendelssohn as a Chessplayer,” published in the Chess Player’s Chronicle on November 22, 1881, p. 565. It mentioned that a large part of his time was devoted to chess.
In the 1880s, Johannes Zukertort (1842-1888) was a music critic and pianist.
In the 1890s, Sir Walter Parratt (1841-1924) was able to play a Beethoven Sonata at the same time that he was conducting two games of chess blindfold. Parratt was an English organist and composer. He was a member of the Huddersfield Chess Club and played his blindfold games while playing a selection of tunes on the piano at Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire. He served for a few months as president of the Oxford University Chess Club and for two years was captain of the Oxford Chess Club. (source: Shinn, Musical Memory and its Cultivation, 1898, p. 134)
On January 30-31, 1893, there was a charity musical chess tournament at King’s Lynn in Norfolk, England. The music was composed by Howard Talbot, and rendered by members of the King’s Lynn Musical Society. The performance was attended by the Prince of Wales. (source: British Chess Magazine, March 1893, pp. 135-137)
In 1900, Russian composer and pianist Alexander Goldenweiser (1875-1961), defeated Mikhail Chigorin in a game of chess, played in Moscow.
In February 1910, Leevi Antii Madetoja (1887-1947) composed the suite Shakkipeli (Chess Game). It was composed for a play called the Chess Game by Eino Leino (1878-1926).
In 1911, Russian composer Peter Petrovich Saburov (1880-1932) was President of the St. Petersburg Chess Club.
On May 20, 1914, composer Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953) defeated Jose Capablanca in a simultaneous exhibition in St. Petersburg.
In 1918, Peter Saburov was President of the Russian Chess Association.
In 1925, Russian composer Peter Petrovich Saburov composed “Love Symphony” for a big orchestra. One of the pieces was called “Simultaneous Games of Chess.” The composition was first played at the “Concert Classique” in Monte Carlo on May 6, 1925 and proved a success.
In 1925, French conductor and composer Henri Rabaud (1873-1949) composed a musical piece called Joueur d’echecs (Chess Player) for a film with the same name, directed by Raymond Bernard.
In 1928, Ira Gershwin (1896-1983) wrote the lyrics to “How Long Has This Been Going On?” which has the line, ‘Don’t be sad, I must add, that they meant no more than chess-men.’ George Gershwin (1898-1937) composed the song. The song was supposed to be for the musical Funny Face in 1928, but it was not used. It was eventually introduced in the musical Rosalie (1928) by Bobbe Arnst and Mary O’Brian. It has also been performed by Bing Crosby (1955), Ella Fitzgerald (1950), Audrey Hepburn (1957), Louis Armstrong (1957), Carmen McRae (1960), Judy Garland (1961), Andy Williams (1962), Liza Minnelli (1970), Cher (1973), Ray Charles (1973), Carly Simon (2005), and Gloria Estefan (2013).
In January 1930, the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) composed the ballet, Echec au Roi (Chess of the King). It describes a chess match set to music.
In 1933, Mark Taimanov (1926-2016) started taking piano lessons at a musical school in Leningrad.
In 1936, Mark Taimanov was studying at a music school and he was selected to play a leading role as a young violinist in the Soviet film "Beethoven Concerto." Taiminov did not know how to play the violin (he was a piano student), but he learned how to play it from scratch. Taimanov spent a year learning the violin.
On June 15, 1937, a 50-minute ballet called Checkmate was performed at the Paris World Exhibition. The ballet was composed by British composer Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975) and choreographed by Ninette de Valois (1898-2001), who knew nothing about chess. The ballet was written at the request of the Sadler's Wells Ballet for their visit to Paris in 1937.
In 1937, composer Sergey Prokofiev and violinist David Oistrakh (1908-1974) played a chess match that was publicized and featured in several Soviet chess magazines of the time. The 10-game match was played at the Master of Art Club in Moscow. Soviet master Vladimir Alatortsev oversaw the match. The winner was awarded the Art Workers’ Club prize and the loser had to give a concert for the club members. Prokofiev won the match and Oistrakh went on the concert tour. (source: Silver, “The 1937 Prokofiev-Oistrakh Match,” ChessBase News, Feb 18, 2013)
In 1939, Melvin “Sy” Oliver (1910-1988) and James “Trummy” Young (1912-1984) wrote the lyrics to “’Tain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It).” Jimmie Lunceford (1902-1947), Harry James (1916-1983), and Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) recorded the jazz tune. One of the lines is ‘I must confess, that life is like a game of chess.’ In 1982, the jazz tune was transformed into a pop song by Fun Boy Three and the Bananarama. In 1988, it appeared in Bananarama’s Greatest Hits Collection.
In 1941, American violinist and pianist Louis Persinger (1887-1966) won the first USCF Open postal chess tournament.
In 1943, John Cage (1912-1992) wrote an unfinished piano sonata called Chess Pieces. This composition was originally conceived as an ink-and-gouache on masonite painting, created specifically for “The Imagery of Chess” exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York City (1944-45). This was an exhibition that was comprised of works that were in some manner related to Marcel Duchamp's interest in chess. In 2005, the original painting resurfaced, and, in working to realize it as a musical composition, Mararet Leng Tan discovered it to be a coherent composition – a through-composed score, consisting of 22 systems of music read conventionally from left to right. Each system is a self-contained musical unit of 12 bars, translating collectively into 22 modular segments. Leng Tan subsequently recorded the work, and thus it was both exhibited and heard within the context an exhibition entitled “The Imagery of Chess Revisited” at The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, New York (21 October 2005 – 16 April 2006). The original score, as visual artwork, remains in a private collection in Chicago.
In 1944, Vittorio Rieti (1898-1994) composed Chess Serenade: suite for two pianos, four hands. It appears on John Cage: The Works for Piano, Vol. 7 (2006).
In 1945, Mark Taimanov resumed his music studies at the Leningrad Conservatory, where he met Lyubov Bruk, a fellow student. They formed a piano duo. Taimanov studied under Samari Savshinsky.
In 1947, an operetta, The Sea Cadet, was performed in London which presented a game of living chess.
In 1947, Bertholt Brecht (1898-1956), a German poet, playwright, and theatre director testified that he wrote the words to music composed by Communist Hanns Eisler (1898-1962), but he only played chess with Eisler and was not involved politically. The two composed that national anthem of East Germany. (source: Life, Nov 24, 1947, p. 148)
In 1948, Vasily Smyslov (1921-2010) wanted to become a professional baritone singer and took singing and music lessons.
In 1950, Vasily Smyslov failed an audition with the Bolshoi Theatre, and only then decided to make chess a career.
In 1951, Count Giancarlo dal Verme (1908-1985) and FIDE Vice President Marcel Berman (1895-1960) composed the music of the FIDE anthem.
In 1953, the first ballet on ice with a chess theme was performed. Called Sinbad the Sailor on Ice, the skaters played out a Morphy – Duke of Brunswick chess game on ice. The work was composed by Reginald Charles Noel-Johnson (1904-2001).
In 1954, Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) defeated Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren during an airplane ride together.
In 1957, Jean Absil (1893-1974) composed Chess, Suite for Piano, op. 96. It is a suite of 6 pieces of virtuosity whose writing was inspired by the moves of chess pieces.
In 1958, Carmen McRae (1922-1994) released her album, Book of Ballads. One of the songs, “How Long Has This Been Going On?” has the line, ‘Don’t be sad, I must add, that they meant no more than chess-men.’
In March 1960, Wayne Shorter (1933- ) composed “The Chess Players” on the album The Big Beat by the band called Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.
In 1963, Faron Young (1932-1996) wrote the song “Ballad of Paladin,” which appeared on his album Faron Young Aims at the West. There are references to a chess knight, Paladin’s calling card.
Have gun will travel reads the card of a man
A knight without armor in a savage land
His fast gun for hire heeds the calling wind
A soldier of fortune is a man called Paladin
Paladin Paladin where do you roam Paladin Paladin far far from home
He travels on to wherever he must
A chess knight of silver is his badge of trust
There are campfire legends that the plainsmen sing
Of a man with the gun of the man called Paladin
Paladin Paladin where do you roam Paladin Paladin far far from home
Far far from home far far from home
On January 13, 1964, Bob Dylan (1941- ) released his album The Times They Are a-Changin.’ One of the songs, “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” has the line, ‘But he can’t be blamed, He’s only a pawn in their game.’ The song is more of a chess metaphor than actually about chess.
In 1964, Calvin Barry Blocker (1955- ) of Cleveland was considered a music prodigy. At age 9, he was performing on stage by playing "Prelude in C# minor.” He spent three and a half years studying piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music before dropping out to devote full time to chess.
In April 1965, Paul Reif (1910-1978) composed Philidor’s Defense: a musical chess game. It was a 13-minute piece for two instrumental ensembles, based on one of Paul Morphy’s famous game that opened up with a Philidor’s Defense. The track list included names like Gambit, Middle Game, and End Game.
In 1965, Ray Charles (1930-2004) learned chess after being busted twice and hospitalized for heroin addiction. He learned chess in the hospital where he went cold turkey after 17 years of drug use. He used a peg set made for the blind. One of his chess partners was Willie Nelson (1933- ). In 2002, he played and lost to the American grandmaster and former U.S. champion Larry Evans (1932-2010)
In 1965, the American rock band Velvet Underground (managed by Andy Warhol) provided the background music at a chess exhibition organized by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1978) at the Cordier & Elkstrom Gallery in New York. The charity exhibition brought in over $32,000 to support chess in America.
In early 1966, Grace Slick (1939- ) wrote and sung “White Rabbit” for the album Conspicuous Only In Its Absence by the band Great Society. In 1967, the song was recorded for the album Surrealistic Pillow by the Jefferson Airplane. The song has several references to chess.
One pill makes you largerIn 1968, John White (1936- ) composed Cello and Tuba Machine. The notes played by the tuba were determined by the moves of a knight on a musical chessboard.
In March 1968, Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) played a chess game with avant-garde composer John Cage at the Ryerson Polytechnic in Toronto, in which music was produced by a series of photoelectric cells underneath each square of the chessboard as the chess pieces moved about the board. The board was created by Lowell Cross. The electronic chess game/concert/artwork was called Reunion.
On December 4, 1968, a ballet called Pawn to King 5 was performed at the Ballet Rambert, Jeanette Cochrane Theatre, London. It was choreographed by John Chesworth (1930-2014). The music was provided by Pink Floyd. The ballet starts with a brawl.
In 1969, the English rock band Pink Floyd recorded the song “Country Song,” also known as “The Red Queen Theme.” The song was unissued until 1997. In 1997, the song was released on the album Zabriskie Point. It has the line, ‘And the red Queen was waiting for the news, for the white King to move… Run to the treasury and bring me back some gold; Give it to the pawn who came, she cried. He says the white King thinks the game of chess is wrong… There will be no game today, she cried across the board.’
In 1969, blues singer Juke Boy Bonner (1932-1978) released the album The Struggle. One of the songs, “Cap is Back,” has the line, ‘You play chess with life, end up in the flame.’ In 2003, Cappadonna recorded the same song for the album The Struggle.
In November 1969, Scott Walker (1943- ) released his album, Scott 4. One of the songs, “Seventh Seal,” has the line ‘Anybody seen a knight pass this way? I saw him playing chess with Death yesterday.’
In the 1970s, Bono (1960- ), or Paul David Hewson, of U2, was chess champion of his school. He later became interested in music and chess took a back seat.
On July 17, 1970, the English rock band Yes composed “Your Move,” which was included in The Yes Album (release on July 17, 1970), with the song also called “I’ve Seen All Good People.” The lyrics were written by Jon Anderson (1944- ) and Chris Squire (1948-2015). “Your Move” was released as a single and became a top 40 hit in the United States in December 1971. The tune uses chess as a lyrical metaphor for navigating interpersonal relationships. There are several chess references (white queen, black square, captured piece, etc). In 2000, the song was released on their album Almost Famous.
I've seen all good people turn their heads each day
So satisfied I'm on my way
I've seen all good people turn their heads each day
So satisfied I'm on my way
Take a straight and stronger course
To the corner of your life
Make the white queen run so fast
She hasn't got time to make you a wife
'Cause it's time, it's time in time with your time
And its news is captured
For the queen to use!
Move me on to any black square
Use me anytime you want
Just remember that the goal
Is for us all to capture all we want (Move me on to any black square)
Don't surround yourself with yourself
Move on back two squares
Send an instant karma to me
Initial it with loving care (Don't surround yourself)
'Cause its time is time in time with your time
And its news is captured
For the queen to use
On September 18, 1970, the English heavy metal band Black Sabbath released the album Paranoid. One of the songs, “Luke’s Wall/War Pigs” has a line, ‘treating people just like pawns in chess.’ In 1968, the song was first performed at The Beat Club in Switzerland. The song was written by Geezer Butler (1949- ).
In 1971, the Czech composer Ladislav Simon (1929-2011) composed Sachova Dama (Chess Queen). It was an 8-minute blues piece for a large jazz orchestra.
On November 5, 1971, Elton John (1947- ) released Madman Across the Water. One of the songs was “Levon,” which has the line, “He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas Day.” The lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin (1950- ) and Elton John. “Levon” was first recorded on February 27, 1971.
In 1971, Marcia Cohen scored and recorded Chess Set: for Percussion and Electronic Tape.
In 1971, the Brazilian composer Osvaldo Costa de Lacerda (1927-2011) composed “Cromos: para Piano.” One of the pieces is called Jogando xadrez (playing chess).
In 1972, the Czech composer Jan Kapr (1914-1988) wrote “Chess Sonata for Two Pianos.” It is an 18-minute piece.
In October 1972, the British rock band Atomic Rooster released their album, Made in England. One of the songs, “All in Satan’s Name,” has the line ‘Three thousand million chessmen on a planetary board play the game of chess to march the hordes of demons onward.’ The song was written by Ric Parnell (1951- ).
In November 1972, the rock band Steely Dan released the album, Can’t Buy a Thrill. One of the songs, “Dirty Work,” has the line, ‘Like the castle in its corner, in a medieval game, I foresee terrible trouble, and I stay here just the same.’ The songwriters were Donald Jay Fagen (1948- ) and Walter Carl Becker (1950-2017). The lead vocals of the song was David Palmer. The song was later recorded by other artists, including the Pointer Sisters, Iain Matthews, and Melissa Manchester.
In 1973, Loudon Wainwright III (1946- ) released his album, Attempted Mustache. One of the songs, “The Man Who Couldn’t Cry,” had the line, ‘For the insensitive and the insane, he played lots of chess and made lots of friends.’ In 1994, the song was sung by Johnny Cash (1932-2003) at the Viper Room nightclub in Los Angeles. It was later released on his 1994 album American Recordings.
In 1973, musician and actor Bobby Darin (1936-1973) was about to sponsor the richest chess tournament ever, the Bobby Darin International Chess Classic. However, he died during a heart operation on Los Angeles and the event was canceled. Bobby Darin was always explaining chess during his Bobby Darin show. He was playing chess just before he went into surgery. His wife, Sandra Dee, was also a chess player. Bobby Darin's son, Dodd, runs a chess publishing house.
In the summer of 1973, an English progressive band called Flash wrote several songs with chess themes. The songs included, “None the Wiser (King),” “Farewell Number One (Pawn),” “Man of Honor (Knight),” “Dead Ahead (Queen),” and “The Bishop.” The album was called Out of Our Hands. The songs were composed by Ray Bennett.
In October 1973, American folk singer John Pine (1946- ) released his album Sweet Revenge. One of the songs, “Christmas in Prison,” has the line, ‘She reminds me of a chess game with someone I admire.’
In 1973, American composer Ned Rorem (1923- ) composed Day Music for violin and piano. One of the works is called “A Game of Chess Four Centuries Ago.”
On October 14, 1974, the British rock band Jethro Tull released their album War Child. One of the songs, “Only Solitaire,” has the line ‘and every night his act’s the same, and so it must be all a game of chess he’s playing. But you’re wrong, Steve: you see, it’s only solitaire.’ The song was written in 1972 by Ian Anderson (1947- ) and David Palmer (1937- ).
In December 1974, a British progressive rock band called Gryphon released the album Red Queen to Gryphon Three. The album is based loosely on a game of chess and consists of instrumental pieces called “Opening Move,” “Second Spasm,” “Lament,” and “Checkmate.” The album cover shows an old man playing chess. The album was recorded in August 1974.
In 1974, during his Candidates’ Match with Henrique Mecking (1952- ) in Augusta, Georgia, Viktor Korchnoi (1931-2016) received a list of music albums that his 14-year old son, Igor, wanted. Radio station WBBQ provided Viktor with albums that included records by Alice Cooper, the Beatles, Moody Blues, Simon and Garfunkel, the Osmonds, and Brocul Harum. (source: Aiken Standard, Jan 29, 1974)
On May 19, 1975, Elton John released Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. One of the songs was “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.” In verse two, it has the lines, “I’m strangled by your haunted social scene, just a pawn out-played by a dominating queen.” The album was recorded in August 1974. The lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin.
On November 1, 1975, the British-Irish singer Chris de Burgh (1946- ) released the album Spanish Train and Other Stories. One of the songs, “Spanish Train,” has the line, ‘And far away in some recess, the Lord and the Devil are now playing chess; the Devil still cheats and wins more souls. And as for the Lord, well, he’d just doing his best.’
In February 1976, British musician Ian Hunter (1939- ) released the album All American Alien Boy. One of the songs, “God [Take 1]” has the line, ‘A God gets tired of playing so much chess, he wished his God would get him out of his mess.’
On October 30, 1976, Olivia Newton-John (1948- ) released her album, Don’t Stop Believin’. One of the songs, “New-Born Babe,” mentions chess pieces. In 1981, the song also appeared on her album Love Performance.
On December 1, 1977, Aerosmith released Draw the Line album. The song entitled “Draw the Line,” starts out with the line, ‘Checkmate honey, beat you at your own damn game.’ Another line is ‘Checkmate, don’t be late.’ Draw the Line was recorded in June 1977. The lyrics were written by Steven Tyler (1948- ) and Joe Perry (1950- ).
On January 8, 1978, David Allan Coe (1939- ) released his album Nothing Sacred. One of the songs, “Fu*k Aneta Briant,” has the line ‘your fingernails help you dress, play you chess.’
On February 10, 1978, Dusty Springfield (1939-1999), released a song called, “Checkmate,” on her album It Begins Again, with several references to chess such as “I’m a Queen to your King, Yes, I’ve been told that you use your pawn to hurt me.” and “hold you in checkmate once more.” The lyrics were written by Nona Hendryx (1944- ).
In July 1978, the English rock duo Godley & Crème, released their album called L. One of the songs, called “Art School Canteen,” has the line, ‘So I lied about the funeral, I was really playing chess.’
In 1979, Swedish composer Sten Hanson (1936-2013) composed The Chessmen of Mars for his John Carter Songbook, release in 1988.
In 1980, Julia Usher (1945- ) wrote “A Chess Piece.” It was a chamber and voice music with 3 clarinets and 1 soprano. It had three movements called Openings, A Tempo, and Endgame.
On October 6, 1980, Monty Python released their album, Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album. One of the songs, “I Like Chinese,” has the line, ‘Think the many things they’ve done to impress; There’s Maoism, Taoism, I Ching and chess.’ In 2001, the song appeared on the album Tomcats Screaming Outside by Roland Orzabal (1961- ).
On May 21, 1982, the British band Discharge released their first album called Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing. One of the songs, “Drunk with Power,” has the line ‘A giant game of chess they play with you.’
In September 1982, the heavy metal band Witchfinder General released the album Death Penalty. One of the songs, “Witchfinder General,” has the line, ‘He plays with us like pawns in chess.’
On May 5, 1983, the British rock and new wave band The Fixx released their album, Reach the Beach. One of the songs, “Opinions,” had the line, ‘I don’t play chess but I could play with you.’
On July 26, 1983, the American new wave band Oingo Boingo released the album Good for Your Soul. One of the songs, “Wake Up (It’s 1984), has the line, ‘Just like a chess game, but so intense that I just don’t understand.’
In 1984, the musical Chess was produced, with lyrics written by Tim Rice (1944- ). It was the most expensive musical play ever put together, costing over $4 million. The music was composed by Benny Andersson (1946- ) and Bjorn Ulvaeus (1945- ), both formerly of the pop group ABBA. The musical was inspired by the 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship match. The most famous song from the musical is One Night in Bangkok. The musical was considered a flop on Broadway.
Bangkok, Oriental settingIn 1984, the German musician Manuel Goettsching (1952- ) created a musical album called E2-E4, borrowing its title of a first move in chess (1.e4). The cover of the album is a black and white chess board.
In March 1984, the English pop band Prefab Strout released the album Swoon. One of the songs, “Cue Fanfare,” has the line, ‘In shock they stare and cue fanfare, when Bobby Fischer’s plane, plane plane touches the ground, plane, plane he’ll take those Russian boys, and play them out of town. Playing for blood as grandmaster should.’
In 1985, the punk band Rich Kids on LSD released the album Keep Laughing. One of the songs, “Life’s a Gamble," has the line, ‘Still just a pawn, I await my crown. My life lies on an old chess board.’
In 1985, Rodney Waschka II (1958- ) composed Euwe Suite, based on chess games played by Max Euwe (1901-1981).
In May 1985, songwriter Suzanne Vega (1959- ) released the album, Suzanne Vega. One of the songs, “Knight Moves,” has the line, ‘Watch while the queen, in one false move, turns herself into a pawn.’
In August 1985, the British rock band Squeeze released their album, Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti. One of the songs, “Big Beng,” has the line ‘I couldn’t win with my thoughts forever playing chess.’
In October 1985, the German power metal band Helloween released their album Walls of Jericho. One of the songs, “Warrior,” has the line, ‘Somewhere in the shelter sit the men who hold your fate in hands playin’ chess and you’re the loser, you’re a small pawn.’
In 1986, rapper Kool Moe Dee (1962- ) released the album Kool Moe Dee. One of the songs, “Monster Crack,” has the line, ‘Using’ people lie pawns I the game of chess, and he is the king, more powerful than the rest.’
In 1986, the British composer Adrian Cruft (1921-1987) wrote “Chess Pieces” for trumpet and piano. It is a 10-minute works composed of 5 short pieces called Knights, Rooks, Pawns, Bishops, and Queens & Kings.
In 1986, Michael Nyman (1944- ) composed The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. This is an opera that has a neurologist playing chess with one of his patients.
In 1986, the Argentine composer Juan Maria Solare (1966- ) composed Ajedrez I y II (Chess I and II). The piece is based on a poem by Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) title Ajedres.
In 1987 Wolfgang von Stuermer, Dietrich Eichman, Christoph Grund, Uwe Kremp, and Reimar Volker composed Game and Earnest. It is a piece for two players performing at a chessboard. The piece was first performed on July 2, 1987 in Fribourg, Switzerland.
In 1987, John and Mirjana Lewis released the Philips album “The Chess Game.” John Lewis plays the piano and Mirjana Lewis plays the harpsichord. The piece is based upon Johann Sebastian Bach’s (1685-1750) Goldberg variations for the harpsichord.
In 1988, Christine Lavin (1952- ) released her album, Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind. One of the songs, “Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind,” has the line, ‘’Cause he’s a smoker I’m playing chess, though I confess, sometimes I long for poker.’
In 1988, a celebrity chess tournament was held in Mazatlán, Mexico. Participants included Graham Nash and Helen Reddy.
In 1988, the Broadway production of Chess opened, but it lost $6 million and closed after 68 performances.
On May 17, 1988, the German power metal band Blind Guardian released the album Battalions of Fear. One of the songs, “Battalions of Fear,” has the line, ‘In earlier chess games we’re playing the part of a soldier.’
On June 7, 1988, the hip hop group EPMD released the album, Strictly Business. One of the songs, “You’re a Customer,” has the line, ‘I make a move like chess, and then I yell “checkmate.”’
On June 28, 1988, the hip hop group Public Enemy released their album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. One of the songs, “Rebel Without a Pause,” had the line, ‘No matter what the name, we’re all the same pieces in one big chess game.’
On October 3, 1989, the rapper MC Lyte released the album Eyes on This. One of the songs, “Throwin’ Word at U,” has the line, ‘Any competition, checkers or chess, whatever the game, Lyte’ll never fess.’
In 1990, the avant-garde rock band King Missile released their album Mystical Sh*t. One of the songs, “Wuss,” has the line, ‘I was into science fiction and math and chess.’
On March 29, 1990, the heavy metal band Defiance released the album Void Terra Firma. One of the songs was Checkmate (“the kings and queens send their pawns off to war”). The song was first recorded in December 1989.
On June 12, 1990, the English rock band Then Jerico released the album Reprise. One of the songs, “One Life,” has the line, ‘Me and Death is playing chess.’
On October 12, 1990, a ballet called “ANA” was performed based on Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. It included a chess game being played. The ballet was choreographed by Regine Chopinot 1952- ) and was performed at La Coursive in La Rochelle. The first part of “ANA” opens unto a giant glass chessboard designed by Marc Caro and created with the decorator Danka Semenowicz. The design offered around sixty spectators the opportunity to slide underneath the glass and view the dance. The performers, with helmets, dressed respectively in red overalls with white spots and white overalls with red stars, stand ready for battle on two sides, portraying the start of a game of chess. The atmosphere is that of a combat (alarms, shots, killings, etc.) The pawns create duplicates in the silvering of the mirror and through the reflection on the stage imagined by the lighting designer Gérard Boucher.
In 1991, the band Abomination released their album Tragedy Strikes. One of the songs, “Blood for Oil,” has the line, ‘Seasons of death, a game of chess, leaders of pawns, where do they spawn.’
On October 8, 1991, the alternative rock band They Might Be Giants released their album Miscellaneous T. One of the songs, “Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal,” had the line, “Chess piece face’s patience.’
In November 1991, Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002) released her album For the Duration. One of the songs, “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old,” has the line, ‘Scout unless I get a call from grandpa for a snappy game of chess.’
In 1992, the Swiss band Messiah released the album Rotten Perish. One of the songs, “Condemned Cell,” has the line, ‘My fate is decided life or death, I while away the time with games of chess.’
In 1992, Juan Maria Solare composed a 4.5-minute work called “Benoni for Flute, Clarinet and Violoncello.”
In 1992, William Finn wrote the music and lyrics to a Broadway musical called Falsettoes. Marvin tries to teach Whizzer how to play chess, but bitterness and ill-feeling boil over ("The Chess Game"). They fight and break up.
On June 9, 1992, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth released the album Mecca and the Soul Brother. One of the songs, “If it Ain’t Rough, It Ain’t Right,” has the line, ‘The protégé could play like chess.’
On October 5, 1992, R.E.M. released the album Automatic for the People. One of the songs, “Man on the Moon,” mentions the game of life, monopoly, twenty-one, checkers, and chess. The lyrics were written by Michael Stipe (1960- ).
On November 10, 1992, the band Biohazard released their album Urban Discipline. One of the songs, “Black and White and Red All Over,” has the line, ‘It makes no sense for us to be pawns in the chess game that the media plays.’
In 1993, the punk rock band MDC released the album Shades of Brown. One of the songs, “Shades of Brown,” has the line, ‘In chess, without exception, white moves the first pawn.’
In 1993, the Swedish synthpop-band S.P.O.C.K. released the album, Five Year Mission. One of the songs, “Charlie X,” has the line, ‘He fell in love with Yeoman, played chess with Spock, but he couldn’t win those game.’
In 1993, Nik Kershaw (1958- ) released his album The Best of Nik Kershaw. One of the songs, “Progress,” has the line, ‘When you’re beaten at chess by your digital watch, that’s progress!’
In 1993, Ake Parmerud (1953- ) composed “Jeux Imaginaires.” It is a musical piece based upon the 22nd game of the 1992 world chess championship between Karpov and Kasparov. “Jeux imaginaires” was created in 1993 at the Charybde studio of the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges (GMEB, France). The piece was commissioned by the (GMEB). Jeux imaginaires was awarded the Prize of the Stockholm Electronics Arts Award in 1993.
On May 4, 1993, the hip hop band The Coup released the album, Kill My Landlord. One of the songs, “I Ain’t the N----,” has the line, ‘The system is a chess game with pawns all the same.’
On July 6, 1993, rapper Akinyele (1970- ) released the album Vagina Diner. One of the songs, “Checkmate,” has the line, ‘I play you like a game of chess and keep you in check, Checkmate.’
On July 8, 1993, Akinyele (1970- ), an American rapper, released Vagina Diner. One of the songs was “Checkmate” (I play you like a game of chess).
On August 24, 1993, Annihilator released Set the World on Fire. One of the songs on the album was “Knight Jumps Queen,” with many chess references. The lyrics were written by Jeff Waters.
Good evening and welcome to a test of the mindsOn November 9, 1993, the hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan released Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). One of the songs “Da Mystery of Chessboxin,” has the line, ‘The game of chess is like a sword fight. You must think first before you move.”
On November 22, 1993, the British rock band Jethro Tull released their album Nightcap. One of the songs, “Solitaire,” has the line ‘and every night his act’s the same, and so it must be all a game of chess he’s playing.’
In 1994, the Scottish composer and songwriter Dougie MacLean (1954- ) released the CD, “Marching Mystery.” The title track was dedicated to the Lewis Chessmen.
On January 10, 1994, the German thrash metal band Sodom released their album, Get What You Deserve. One of the songs, “Unbury the Hatchet,” has the line, “Raging generals, serious games, they don’t know what is really going on, Like a clever move in a game of chess.’
On March 26, 1994, the pop group Bad Boys Blue released their album To Blue Horizons. One of the songs, “It Was Only Love,” has the line, ‘I was the only move it seems in her game of chess.’
In September 1994, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (1986- ), also known as the Olsen twins, starred in a musical mystery series. One episode, The Case of the Logical I Ranch, had them singing a song called “Nothing to Do.” One of the lines was, ‘played four games of checkers, three games of chess, two of Monopoly, more or less.’
On September 20, 1994, the rapper Craig Mack (1970-2018) released the album Project: Funk da World. One of the songs, “Judgement Day,” has the line, ‘In the chess game of rap, MC’s ain’t nothin’ but a pawn.’
On November 8, 1994, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth released the album The Main Ingredient. One of the songs, “I Got a Love,” has the line, ‘You want a slow wind under my ceiling fan, read books and beat me at chess.’
On November 15, 1994, rapper Method Man (1971- ) released his first studio album called Tical. One of the songs, “Meth vs. Chef,” has the lines, ‘’Tack you like chess moves best move,’ and ‘’Tack the boards like chess moves.’ Another song, “Mr. Sandman,” has the line, ‘A day at me rest, playing chess, yes.’
In 1995, the Canadian pop rock band Wild Strawberries released the album, Heroine. One of the songs, “I Don’t Want to Think About It,” has the line, ‘I’ll be wearing Middleton’s lace, It’s as sterile as chess.’
In 1995, the American punk band Antischism released their album, Antischism. One of the songs, “Foreign Policy,” has the line, ‘playing chess in Central American.’
In 1995, the English band Sol Invictus released their album In The Rain. One of its songs, “Believe Me,” has the line ‘The gods above and the gods below, playing chess for her soul.’
On February 7, 1995, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (1968-2004) released the album Brooklyn Zoo. One of the songs, “Give It to Ya Raw,” has the line, ‘Keep MCs in check like a game of chess.’
On March 21, 1995, the alternative rock band Morphine released their album Yes. It included a song called “Radar,” which had the line ‘You played me like a chess game and now you say checkmate.’
On March 28, 1995, the soundtrack New Jersey Drive, Vol. 1 was released. The soundtrack came from the music in the crime drama film, New Jersey Drive, released in April 1995. One of the songs, “Benz or Beamer,” performed by the hip hop duo OutKast (Andre 000 and Big Boi) , has the line, ‘Chess, I never played, but made many a moves.’
On May 30, 1995, the hip hop duo Show and A.G. released the album Goodfellas. One of the songs, “Next Level,” has the line, ‘I’m not the best, but I give you stress to flatter me your strategy gotta be more complex than chess.’
On November 7, 1995, rapper GZA (1966- ) released the album Liquid Swords. One of the songs, “Gold,” has the line, ‘a kingpin just castled with his rook and lost a pawn.’
In 1996, Wally Pleasant released the album Wally World. One of the songs, “Let’s Play Life,” has the line, ‘Baby, next time, let’s play life, (Checkers), No, no,no, (Chess) Moves way too slow.’
In 1996, an opera called “Sketches of Chess” was written by Dr. Murielle Lucie Clement. It is a short opera for two sopranos and a chessboard. The libretto is based upon a chess game between Ljubomir Ljubojevic and Garry Kasparov in 1987 at the Swift Blitz tournament in Brussels. Ljubojevic defeated Kasparov in this game and tied Kasparov for first place in the tournament. (source: “The Great Chess Opera,” ChessBase News, Oct 1, 2003)
In 1996, Juan Maria Solare composed a 20-minute work called “Diez Estudios Escenicos.” One of the scenes is titled “Chessgame.” Two actors pretend to play chess without the use of props, accompanied by the violin and double bass.
In 1996, the heavy metal band Pro-Pain released their album Contents Under Pressure. One of the songs, “Crush,” has the line ‘If less means more, then more means less, I’m just a little white pawn in a game of chess.’
On Feb 13, 1996, the hip hop group Fugees released their album The Score. One of the songs, “Ready or Not,” has the line, ‘I play my enemies like a game of chess, where I rest, no stress.’
On March 1, 1996, the German power metal band Helloween released their album The Time of the Oath. One of the songs, “Anything My Mama Don’t Like,” has the line ‘playing chess with tomorrow I’m anything my mama don’t like.’
On April 22, 1996, the English metal band Cradle of Filth released the Extend Play (EP) Vempire: Dark Faerytales in Phallustein. One of the songs, “Queen of Winter, Throned,” has the line, ‘with Death at chess, their pawns are many and the enemy powerless.’ The lyrics were written by Dani Filth (1973- ).
On May 6, 1996, the English Britpop band Sleeper released their album The It Girl. One of the songs, “Shrinkwrapped,” has the line, ‘Then we watch the spooks on the news playing chess with the cynics.’
On June 18, 1996, the hip hop group Boot Camp Clik released the album Nocturnal. One of the songs, “Operation Lockdown.” Has the line, ‘they transform to chess pieces on fake grounds, never spare clowns, Ruck and Rock be the rooks, hold the square down.’ The song was performed by the duo Heltah Skeltah (Ruck and Rook).
On September 16, 1996, DJ Shadow (1972- ) released his album Endtroducing. One of the songs is called “Changeling,” with the line ‘rained 40 nights, played lots of chess.”
In 1997, the Canadian indie rock band released the Extended Play, Buddy Holly Convention. One of the lines is , ‘are you on the way to the chess club today?’
In 1997, Ed Hale (1974- ) released the album Acoustic in New York. One of the songs, “Stay,” has the line, ‘Confucius look it up, chess boards patters when I hook it up.’
In 1997, the punk rock band No Use for a Name released the album, Making Friends. One of the songs, “Sidewalk,” has the line, ‘We’re all pieces in a chess game, He’s a pawn.’
In 1997, Mike Watt (1957- ) released the album Contemplating the Engine Room. One of the songs, “The Boilerman,” has the line, ‘history, facts and names, we’d set it up just like a chess game.’
In 1997, the German film Bandits and its soundtrack album was released. One of the songs, song by Jasmin Tabatabai (1967), was “Another Sad Song,” which had the line, ‘buy a band new dress or learn a useful game like chess.’
In 1997, rapper C-BO (1972- ) released the album Hardh Game for the People. One of the songs, “Behind the Scenes,” has the line, ‘Now who makes moves like chess?’ The song was performed by Jiboh.
In 1997, the English rock band Seraphim Shock released their album, Red Silk Vow. One of its songs, “God of the World,” has a line ‘Jesus and me been playin’ some chess, it doesn’t matter who wins.’
On March 18, 1997, the Australian indie rock group, The Whitlams, released their album, Eternal Nightcap. One of the songs, “Gough,” has the line, ‘Come over have dinner with me, we’ll play chess and drink claret.’
On March 25, 1997, They Might be Giants, a band from New York City, released Then – the Earlier Years. One of the songs on the album was called “Chess Piece Face.”
On July 8, 1997, the rock band Smash Mouth released the album Fush Yu Mang. One of the songs, “Padrino,” has the line, ‘Life imitates the game of chess, you can be the rook or the pawn, but if you have the strategy that’s best, you can be the king.’
On July 27, 1997, the band called Isildurs Bane released their album MIND Volume I. Throughout the song, the moves of a chess game are recited.
On August 26, 1997, rapper Diamond D (1968- ) released the album Hatred, Passions, and Infidelity. One of the songs, “Gather Round,” has the line, ‘Life’s a game of chess and I play like a Russian.’
On October 28, 1997, the hip hop group The Hot Boys released the album Get It How U Live! One of the songs, “Take It Off Your Shoulder,” has the line, ‘Playin a chess game, gotta keep my eye on this mate.’ The song was performed by the rapper Juvenile (1975- ).
On November 11, 1997, rapper Mystikal (1970- ) released the album Unpredictable. One of the songs, “Born 2 Be a Soldier,” has the line, ‘playing live chess game with the chain.’
On November 18, 1997, Metallica released Reload. One of the songs is Where the Wild Things Are. It has the line, “Toy horses start the charge; Robots, chessmen standing guard.”
In 1998, the rock band Servotron released the album, Entertainment Program for Humans (Second Variety). One of the songs, “Deep Blue, Congratulations,” has several references to chess.
Designed by IBMIn 1998, rapper X-Raided (1974- ) released the album, Unforgiven. One of the songs, “Whatever It Took,” has the line, ‘Checkin’ them n---a like a chess board.’
In 1998, Philips released a series of CDs called “Great Pianists of the 20th Century.” Included was a CD devoted to Mark Taimanov and his wife, Lyubov, playing suites for two pianos.
On April 7, 1998, rapper C-Murder (1971- ) released the soundtrack album I Got the Hook Up the film of the same name. One of the songs, “Would You Hesitate,” has the line, ‘Life is complicated like a game of chess, anticipating checkmate is like waiting for death.’
On April 7, 1998, rapper AZ (1972- ) released the album Pieces of Man. One of the songs, “Love is Love,” has the line, ‘It’s all a chess game, choose sides.’
On April 28, 1998, the hip hop group Public Enemy released their album He Got Game. One of the songs, “Game Face,” has the line, ‘Hip hop’s like a chess game, discussin’ the warr, strategize, move like masterminds.’
On June 16, 1998, the band Ozomatli released the album Ozomatli. One of the songs, “Coming War,” has the line, ‘Are you a soldier who fights against fraud, or pawns in this game on this government’s chess board?’
On June 16, 1998, the rapper McGruff (1974- ) released his album, Destined to Be. One of the songs, “Freestyle,” has the line, ‘Let’s go back, when I used to chess.’
On September 22, 1998, rapper Ras Kass (1973- ) released the album Rasassination. One of the songs, “Ice Age,” has the line, ‘We all pawns in the game, but every pawn got his personal chess board. But how many pieces can you afford?’
On November 10, 1998, rapper Pete Rock (1970- ) released the album Soul Survivor. One of the songs, “It’s About That Time,“ has the line ‘Let my words express, move men line chess.’
On November 17, 1998, rapper LA the Darkman (1980- ) released the album Heist of the Century. One of the songs, “Element of Surprise,” has the line, ‘Life is a game of chess (you play the pawn).’
On December 6, 1998, the British doom metal band Cathedral released their album, Caravan Beyond Redemption. One of the songs, “Omega Man,” has the line, ‘chess against the world.’
On December 22, 1998, the rapper DMX (1970- ) released the album Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. One of the songs, “Blackout,” has the line, ‘I like to play chess and I swing the revolver.’
In 1999, Wu-Syndicate released the album Wu-Syndicate. One of the songs, “Wings of Life,” mentions a chess board.
In 1999, Jason Webley (1974- ) released the album Against the Night. One of the songs, “Winter,” has the line, ‘just a game of chess where ancient gods and devils fight.’
In 1999, The Vandals recorded a song called “To All the Kids” for the album Short Music for Short People. One of the lines in the song is ‘Chess club contenders with speculative genders.’
In 1999, the Canadian band Unexpect released their album, Utopia. One of the songs, “Ethereal Dimensions,” has the line, ‘pawns of this futile gods-mode of chess.’
In 1999, Juan Maria Solare composed “Zugzwang.” It is subtitled "Fifteen authentic miniatures about the strategy of chess" for quartet: violin, alto saxophone, double bass, and piano. The work was dedicated to grandmaster Lothar Schmid (1928-2013).
On January 26, 1999, the band Flotsam and Jetsam released their album, Unnatural Selection. One of the songs, “Way to Go,” has the line, ‘a bone-breaking game of chess.’
On April 6, 1999, rapper Krayzie Bone (1973- ) released the album, Thug Mentality 1999. One of the songs, “Thugline,” has the line, ‘I got my mind just like chess, and I concentrate of every move.’
On May 18, 1999, rapper Andre Nickatina (1970- ) released the album Tears of a Clown. One of the songs, “Sun Duck Kim,” has the line, ‘chess, concentrate before you take a step.’
On May 25, 1999, Slick Rick (1965- ), a British-American rapper, released the album The Art of Storytelling. One of the songs on the album is King Piece in the Chess Game.
On July 13, 1999, Jay-Z (1969- ) released the album Black Gangster. One of the songs, “This Life Forever,“ has the line, ‘Poppa raised me to chess moves.’
On July 21, 1999, the Swedish progressive rock band Pain of Salvation released the album One Hour by the Concrete Lake. One of the songs, “Handful of Nothing,” has the line, ‘Lethal moves in a game of chess for the depraved. King or Pawn? Are you worth to save?’
On July 22, 1999, the American heave metal band Metal Church released their album Masterpeace. One of their songs, “All Your Sorrows,” has the line ‘When I press this game of chess, I always end with something less.’
On September 7, 1999, the rapper Jeru the Damaja (1972- ) released the album Neroz4hire. One of the songs, “Seinfeld,” has the line, ‘Makin moves like a chess wiz.’
On September 24, 1999, John Mayer (1977- ) released his debut Extended Play (EP) Inside Wants Out. One of the songs, “My Stupid Mouth,” has the line, ‘a quick game of chess with the salt and pepper shaker.’
On November 9, 1999, E-40 (1967- ) released the album Charlie Hustle: The Blueprint of a Self-Made Millionaire. One of the songs, “Earl That’s Yo’ Life,” has the line, ‘We don’t play checkers no more, we play chess.’
On November 9, 1999, Helloween released their album Metal Jukebox. One of the songs, “Juggernaut,” has the line, ‘Superpowers play chess along a board with people as pieces, taking human life, just like they’re only sacrificing a pawn.’
On November 16, 1999, Will Smith released the album Willennium. One of the songs, Freakin’ It, mentions chess (Every time I shoot I score, so many awards I can start a Grammy chess board). Will Smith is a chess player.
In 2000, the English punk rock band Toy Dolls released their album, Anniversary Anthems. One of the songs, “Dorkamania,” has the line, ‘Grand world class chess champions, the wally worship these.’
In 2000, Sting invited Garry Kasparov to play simultaneously against him and his band in New York City. Kasparov won all 5 games easily.
On January 1, 2000, indie hip hop artist Illogic (1980- ) released the album, Unforeseen Shadows. One of the songs, “Hate in a Puddle,” has the line, ‘To carry on as a pawn in this chess game.’
On February 8, 2000, the hip hop duo Dead Prez released the album Let’s Get Free. One of the songs, “Mind Sex,” has the line, ‘Later we can play a game of chess on the futon.’
On February 22, 2000, the Swedish punk rock band Millencolin released their album Pennybridge Pioneers. One of the songs, “Devil Me,” has the line, ‘I watch hockey, basketball, play chess.’
On June 20, 2000, Mr. Serv-On (1969- ) released the album War is Me, Pt. 1: Battle Decisions. One of the songs, “Last Dayz,” has the line, ‘But I make moves like a chess play why’all then I handles mine.’
On May 15, 2000, Dr. Feelgood, a British pub rock band, released an album called Chess Masters.
On May 16, 2000, the band They Might Be Giants released an extended play (EP) record called Working Undercover for the Man. One of the songs, “Rest Awhile,” has the line ‘I became friendly with Ruy Lopez, the author of works on chess, Ruy said you’re incorrect, he cut me off.’
On June 6, 2000, the hardcore punk band 98 Mute released their album, Slow Motion Riot. One of the songs, “Wounds,” has the line, ‘Paranoid am I an android, A checker in a game of chess.’
On June 13, 2000, the hip hop group Slum Village released the album Fantastic, Vol. 2. One of the songs, “Go Ladies,” has the line, ‘Come over to my place, we can play chess.’
On October 17, 2000, the hip hop trio Deltron 3030 released the album Deltron 3030. One of the songs, “Battlesong,” has the line, ‘Be strategic like a chess game.’
On October 24, 2000, the Christian rock band Newsboys released the album Shine: The Hits. One of the songs, “Mega-Mix,” has the line, ‘Back when the chess club said our eggs were soft.’
On October 24, 2000, rapper Afu-Ra (1974- ) released his first album, Body of the Life Force. One of the songs, “Quotations,” had the line, ‘Corner ya brain, like a game of chess.’
November 21, 2000, Wu-Tang Clan released the album, The W. One of the songs, “Protect Ya Neck,” has the line, ‘Why y’all might just catch me in the park playing chess.’
On November 21, 2000, B.G. (1980- ), an American rapper, released an album called Checkmate.
In 2001, the hip hop group Arsonists released the album Date of Birth. One of the songs, “Alive,” has the line, ‘I’ve played many times with the chess master, lost some of my pawns.”
In 2001, John Williams (1932) wrote the score to the song called “The Chess Game,” that was in the original motion picture soundtrack of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
On February 27, 2001, American singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik (1969- ) released the album Phantom Moon. One of the songs is called “Mr. Chess.” One of the lines is “We’ll spend our Christmas playing Wizard Chess.”
On March 5, 2001, the Swedish black metal band Marduk released the album, La Grande Danse Macrabre. One of the songs, “La Grande Danse Macrabre,” has the line, ‘and as a pawn in a game of chess you stand.’
May 13, 2001, the rock band Clutch released the album Pure Rock Fury. One of the songs, “Careful with That Mic,” has the line, ‘Oh, but I digress, you play sorry, I play chess, King’s pawn to b3, checkmate.’
On May 14, 2001, the American rock band R.E.M. released their album Reveal. One of the songs, “She Just Wants to Be,” had the line, “pomegranate afternoons Mingus, Chet Baker and chess.’
On May 15, 2001, rapper Missy Elliott (1971- ) released an album called Miss E…So Addictive. One of her songs, “Checkin’ for You,” refers to playing a game of chess and that a real queen needs a king. The song also appeared on her 2008 album, Da Read World/Supa Dupa Fly.
On May 31, 2001, the Bulgarian guitarist Nikolo Kotzev (1961- ) released the album Nikolo Kotzev’s Nostrdamus. One of the songs, “Eagle,” has the line, ‘He is a chess master, who’s opponent happens to be the rest of humanity.’
On June 5, 2001, John Mayer released Room for Squares. One of the songs on the album was called “My Stupid Mouth,” which has a line, ‘I played a quick game of chess with the salt and pepper shaker.’
On June 12, 2001, rapper AZ (1972- ) released the album 9 Lives. One of the songs, “What Cha Day About,” has the line, ‘Playing chess in the park.”
On July 31, 2001, the hip hop duo Tha Dogg Pound (Kurupt and Daz Dillinger) released the album 2002. One of the songs, “Don’t Stop,” has the line, ‘Mr. Makaveli movin’ pieces like telekinesis; It’s like a chess game, let’s play wit’ real pieces.’ The song was produced by Daz Dillinger (1973- ), featuring 2Pac (1971-1996). The song also appeared in the 2006 album, Pac’s Life.
On September 4, 2001, the rapper Mr. Shadow released the song “Money Klip.” It has the line, ‘Responsible for every move like a chess game.’
On September 25, 2001, Bruce Dickinson (1958- ) released his album, The Best of Bruce Dickinson. One of the songs, “Broken,” has a line, ‘I am not a pawn, this is not a game of chess.’
On October 2, 2001, the heavy metal band Machine Head released the album Supercharger. One of the songs, “Kick You Whne Your’re Down,” has the line, ‘give up you gotta play like a master of chess.’
On October 3, 2001, the hip hop group Dilated Peoples released the album Expansion Team. One of the songs, “Night Life,” has the line, ‘Kings remained in chess on the board and life in thrones.’
On October 16, 2001, the hip hop group Freestyle Fellowship released the album Temptations. One of the songs, “Freestyle Dedication,” has the line, ‘I starts to zone, I play chess with Aceyalone.’
On November 20, 2001, Too $hort (1966- ) released the album Chase the Cat. One of the songs, “This How We Eat,” has the line, ‘Life is a game of chess, who plays the best is the last one that’s laid to rest.’
On December 4, 2001, the hip hop group Cypress Hill released the album Stoned Raiders. One of the songs, “Southland Killers,” has the line, ‘It’s all real; I bet fame; it’s a chess game. Wrong move and it’s checkmate.’
In 2002, Nakatomi Plaza released the album Private Property. One of the songs, “Our Hero Exits Stage Left…” has the line, ‘you’ve all been pawns in my chess game.’
In 2002, Millencolin released the album Kemp. One of the songs, “The Downhill Walk,” has a reference to chess.
On May 6, 2002, the indie rock band Bright Eyes released the Extended Play (EP) There Is No Beginning to the Story. One of the songs, “From a Balance Beam,” has the line, ‘Still, I was helpless as a chess piece when I was lifted up by someone’s had.’
On May 21, 2002, the hip hop duo Camp Lo released the album, Let’s Do It Again. One of the songs, “Soul Train,” has the line, ‘we on the pigeon hit show them what they dealing with, couple chess move and the Skin City blues quick.’
On July 11, 2002, Hayes Carll (1976- ) released his debut album, Flowers & Liquor. One of the songs, “Naked Checkers,” has the line, ‘Well you like checkers, and I like chess.’
In August 2002, the indie pop band Future Bible Heroes released the album Eternal Youth. One of the songs, “Losing Your Affection,” has the line, ‘I would rather be king when the rooks take wing.’
On September 24, 2002, the rapper Tech N9ne (1971- ) released the album Absolute Power. One of the songs, “Frekly Lil Things,” has the line, ‘Another mate I can check on chess was best for less demeanor.’
On October 1, 2002, rapper Xzibit (1974- ) released the album Man vs. Machine. One of the songs, “(Hit U) Where it Hurts,” has the line, ‘It’s a chess game n----, better count ya spaces.’
On October 8, 2002, the hip hop group Boot Camp Clik released the album The Chosen Few. One of songs, “Just Us,” has the line, ‘Aha, I come on, I play chess when I’m rappin.’
On November 26, 2002, Busta Rhymes (1972- ) released his album It Ain’t Safe No More. One of the songs, “What Do You Do When You’re Branded,” has the line, ‘Kill that n---- slow like how you got defeated in chess.’
In 2003, the Finnish band …And Oceans (now Havoc Unit) released the album The Dynamic Gallery of Thoughts. One of the songs, “The Black Vagabond and the Swan of Two Heads,” has the line ‘And there I was in the middle of a game of chess.’
On June 21, 2003, the American rock band Harry and the Potters released an album called Harry and the Potters. One of the songs is “Wizard Chess.”
On August 19, 2003, Ian Anderson (1947- ) released his album Rupi’s Dance. One of the songs, “A Raft of Penguins,” has the line, ‘Hushed room maids glide like pawns to king, with pool attendants in chess piece array.’
On August 26, 2003, the rap quartet Nappy Roots released the album Wooden Leather. One of the songs, “Work in Progress,” has the line, ‘Every step you take, every right every left you make, you can look at it like chess in a way.’
On October 7, 2003, the hip-hop duo Non-Prophets (Sage Francis and Joe Beats) released the album Hope. One of the songs, “The Cure,” has the line, ‘dead set on checkmates embracing a chess set.’
On October 7, 2003, RZA (1969- ) released the album Birth of a Prince. One of the songs, “The Drop Off,” has the line, ‘We play the corners like the castles on a chess board.’
On October 28, 2003, the American rock band The Strokes released their album, Room on Fire. One of the songs is “What Ever Happened?” with the line, ‘I wait and tell myself, life ain’t chess.’
On November 18, 2003, the Red Hot Chili Peppers released their Greatest Hits album. One of the new songs was Fortune Faded. The first line is “They say in chess, you gotta kill the queen and then you mate it.”
In 2004, Hugh Cornwell (1949- ) released his album, Beyond Elysian Fields. One of the songs, “Under Her Spell,” has the line, ‘So you think that you found happiness amongst the traffic in the game of chess.’
In 2003, Akir released the album Street Edition, vol. 1-2. One of the songs, “One,” has the line, ‘wipe the chess board clean of my enemy pawns.’
On April 20, 2004, the American electronic band Freezepop released an album called Fancy Ultra-Fresh. One of the songs is called “Chess King.” The lyrics were written by Kasson Crooker.
In June 2004, Italian-Belgian singer Lara Fabian (1970- ) released the album A Wonderful Life. In one of the songs, “I’ve Cried Enough,” there is the line, ‘Life’s a big game of chess.’
On June 1, 2004, Masta Killa (1969- ) released the album No Said Date. One of the songs, “Digi Warfare,” has the line, ‘a chess contest, leave a little stress.’
On June 7, 2004, the Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish released the album Once. One of the songs, “Romanticide,” has the line, ‘To take part in this devil’s chess.’
On June 14, 2004, the German band Soehne Mannheims released the album Noiz. One of the songs, “Traurige Lieder,” has the line, ‘I was caught between a game of chess.’
On June 15, 2004, the hip hop group Hangar 18 released the album Multi-Platinum Debut Album. One of the songs, “Take No Chances,” has the line, ‘looks upon the chess board dancin.’
On July 27, 2004, the country band Old 97’s released their album, Drag It Up. One of the songs, “Friends Forever,” has the line, ‘I was in the chess club.’
On August 10, 2004, rapper Shyne (1979- ) released the album Godfather Buried Alive. One of the songs, “Jimmy Choo,” has the line, ‘like me its chess when I clap ‘em up.’ Another song, “Martyr,” has the line, ‘Play chess with the devil from the sky.’
On September 21, 2004, hip hop artist Jean Grae (1976- ) released the album This Week. One of the songs, “Not Like Me,” has the line, ‘Play a little chess strip.’
On October 26, 2004, the American band Son, Ambulance released their album, Key. One of the songs, “Taxi-Cab Driver,” has the line ‘You were the chess game I thought better unwon.’
November 9, 2004, rapper Ja Rule (1976- ) released the album R.U.L.E. One of the songs, “Last of the Mohicans,” has the line, ‘Tied to they Lebron’s, the game we play is chess.’
On November 30, 2004, T.I. released the album Urban Legend. One of the songs, “Bring Em Out,” has the line, ‘And quick to check a lame like a game of chess.’ In 2005, the song was also a part of the album, Instrumental Icons: Street’s Favorites.
In 2005, the punk band Driving East released the album A Black Eye or a Broken Heart. One of the songs, “Something Left to Save,” has the line, ‘In this chess game, it’s my chance to move. Far from all disaster, and far from queens like you.’
In 2005, Chris Rice released his album, Amusing. One of the songs, “The Final Move,” has the line, ‘Saw an old guy today, staring long at a chess game, looked like it was half-played, then his tear splashed between the bishop and the king.’
In 2005, Papoose (1978- ), an American rapper, released the album called Chess with the title song called Chess.
In 2005, DJ Naughty released the album, DJ Naughty Presents One Night in Berlin. One of the songs, “Budapest,” has the line, ‘An iced game of chess melting in Budapest.’
On March 3, 2005, the rapper 50 Cent (1975- ) released the album The Massacre. One of the songs, “Piggy Bank,” has the line, ‘This is chess not checkers, these are warning shots; After your next move I’ll give you what I got.’
On May 24, 2005, Common (1972- ) released the album Be. One of the songs, “They Say,” has the line, ‘Played chess in this game of pawns and knights.’
On June 7, 2005, the progressive metal band Shadow Gallery released the album Room V. One of the songs, “Rain,” has the line, ‘Chess moves in silence glacial patience under gun.’
On June 14, 2005, rapper Afu-Ra (1974- ) released the album, State of the Arts. One of the songs, “God of Rap,” has the line, ‘Hit the block with it, chess boxin’ it.’
On June 21, 2005, rapper Canibus (1974- ) released the album Mind Control. One of the songs, “Last Laugh,” has the line, ‘Beef with ‘Bis is like playing chess without the pieces.’
On June 21, 2005, Billy Corgan (1967- ) released his album, TheFutureEmbrace. One of the songs, “Strayz,” has the line, ‘I play chess from both sides now.’
On August 23, 2005, rapper Maceo released the album Straight Out da Pot. One of the songs, “God’s Soldier,” has the line, ‘life as a game of chess ‘cause every move is critical in this life of stress.’
On August 30, 2005, rapper Tony Yayo (1978- ) released the album Thoughts of a Predicate Felon. One of the songs, “Project Princess,” has the line, ‘Every man need a woman when his life is a mess, ‘cause the queen can take a king like a game of chess.’
On September 13, 2005, rapper Paul Wall (1981- ) released the album The People’s Champ. One of the songs, “Ridin’ Dirty,” has the line, ‘I peeped game from the best, and since then I been playin’ chess.’ Another song, “Trill,” has the line, ‘I trained for chess moves, I’m five steps ahead.’ Another song on the album, “March N’ Step,” has the line, ‘I’m Bobby Fischer on the mic making chess moves, this sucker’s playing checkers simple destined to lose.’ Yet another son, “Big Ballin’” has the line, ‘I keep my mind on breakin’ bread, makin’ chess moves, thinkin’ ahead; I soaked up game at an early age, I’m built for this, I’m a seasoned vet.’
On September 26, 2005, Jamie Cullum (1979- ) released the album, Catching Tales. One of the songs, “Get Your Way,” has the line, ‘Queen takes pawn, check or checkmate.’
On September 27, 2005, rapper Mack 10 (1971- ) released the album Hustla’s Handbook. One of the songs, “Like This,” has the line, ‘Homie this ain’t checkers, this is a game of chess.’
On October 25, 2005, DJ Muggs and GZA released a collaborative album called Grandmasters. The theme of the album was chess. Some of the tracks had names like “Opening,” “Exploitation of Mistakes,” “General Principles,” “Queen’s Gambit,” “Advance Pawns,” “Unstoppable Threats,” “Unprotected Pieces,” and “Smothered Mate.”
On November 11, 2005, the Swedish guitarist Roine Stolt (1956- ) released the album Wall Street Voodoo. One of the songs, “Spirit of the Rebel,” has the line, ‘set for a good old-fashioned game of chess.’
On January 24, 2006, the musical group Electric President released their album, S/T. One of the songs, “Grand Machine No. 12,” has the line, ‘Chess pieces in some grandiose scheme.’
On March 21, 2006, the American punk band Anti-Flag released their album, For Blood and Empire. One of the songs, “State Funeral,” has the line ‘After years of this are we still all content? With being pawns in war game chess shuffled by King George.’
On April 10, 2006, the Swedish punk band Raised Fist released their album Sound of the Republic. The song, “Sound of the Republic,” has the line, ‘Bringing all your friends in just to make a mess; moving all your pawns in just like a game of chess.’
On May 2, 2006, Rat City Riot released their album, Dirty Rotten Games. One of the songs, “Reality TV, has the line, ‘Human lives in a game of chess, the time has come now, sacrifice our best.’
On June 28, 2006, Trick Daddy (1974- ) released the album Da Bottom Vol. 9. One of the songs, “Gangsta S---,” has the line, ‘Better understand the game, it’s chess not checkers.’
On September 26, 2006, “Weird Al” Yankovic (1959- ) released the album Straight Outta Lynwood. One of the songs, “White & Nerdy,” has the line, ‘I was in AV club and Glee club and even the chess team!’
On October 17, 2006, rapper Xzibit (1974- ) released the album Full Circle. One of the songs, “Thank You,” has the line, ‘I play chess, not checkers, but this is not a game.’
On November 7, 2006, the rock band Bowling for Soup released the album The Great Burrito Extortion Case. One of the songs, “High School Never Ends,” has the line, ‘Bill Gates, captain of the chess team.’
On November 14, 2006, The Game (1979- ) released the album Doctor’s Advocate. One of the songs, “Da S***,” has the line, ‘And you don’t wanna play chess on a time clock.’
In 2007, Rivers Cuomo (1970- ), of the rock ban Weezer, released an album called Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo. One of the songs is called “Chess.” It has the line, ‘Chess is such a difficult game. There are so many pieces, So many squares where you can go. So few promises.’
In 2007, Adisa Banjoko founded the Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF).
In 2007, the band 77 South released their album, Open the Pod Door Hal. One of the songs, “A Country Song,” has references to the white King and the game of chess.
On November 6, 2007, the rapper Cassidy (1971- ) released the album B.A.R.S. One of the songs, “Leanin’ on the Lord,” has the line, ‘He realized life is like playin’ a chess game.’
On November 27, 2007, the German rock band Scorpions released their album Deadliest Stings: Greatest Hits. One of the songs, “Walking on Edge,” has the line, ‘For you, life is just like chess, If you don’t move, you’ll lose the game like this.’
On December 4, 2007, the rapper Styles P (1974- ) released the album, Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman). One of the songs, “Star of the State,” has the line, ‘King and the queen die, just like chess time.’
On December 11, 2007, the hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan released the album 8 Diagrams. One of the songs, “Life Changes,” has the line, ‘You was the chess piece on the board that made us look true.’ Another song, “Weak Spot,” has many references to chess.
I stay on the 64 squares, while patrolling the centerOn December 4, 2007, Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean (1969- ) released the album Carnival, Vol. II: Memoirs of an Immigrant. One of the songs, “Slow Down,” has the line, ‘To win at chess, you’ve got to trap the king.’
In 2008, Conejo (1974- ) released an album called Welcome to Rome. One of the songs is called “Pawns in a Chess Game.”
On March 11, 2008, Snoop Dog (1971- ) released the album Ego Trippin.’ One of the songs, “Whateva U Do,” has the line, ‘I play chess checkmate him in the street.’
On April 22, 2008, the indie rock band Tokyo Police Club released their album, Elephant Shell. One of the songs, “Your English is Good,” has the line, ‘Across this black and white chess board.’
On April 28, 2008, the English band Cajun Dance Party released their only studio album. One of the songs was “Amylase,” which had the line ‘Let’s save this game for never or you know this could be chess forever.’
On April 28, 2008, the rock band Half Man Half Biscuit released their album, CSI: Ambleside. One of the songs is called “Bad Losers on Yahoo! Chess.”
On May 6, 2008, the American band From First to Last released their album From First to Last. One of the songs on the album, “Medicinal Reality,” has the line, ‘I’ve been searching for hope to find something more than just pawns in a chess game.’
On June 17, 2008, the punk rock band The Briggs released the album Come All You Madmen. One of the songs, “Mad Men,” has a reference to a chess board.
On September 9, 2008, the band Gym Class Heroes released the album The Quilt. One of the songs, “Life Father, Like Son," has the line, ‘I sat back and watched pops play with women lie chess, checkmate.’
On September 9, 2008, the punk band United Nations released their album United Nations. One of the songs, “My Cold War,” has the line, ‘all you robots, all you highly paid chess machines.’
In 2009, Peter von Poehl (1972- ) released his album May Day. One of the songs, “Wombara,” has the line, ‘The gravediggers laughed at dawn, playing chess with the buds.’
On February 24, 2009, rapper Joe Budden (1980- ) released the album Padded Room. One of the songs, “Adrenaline,” has the line, ‘It’s a thinking man’s world, s--- is chess to me. Let the king move.’
On August 31, 2009, rapper Trey Songz (1984) released the album Ready. One of the songs, “Brand New,” has the line, ‘I play it cool, just like chess, I know the rules, and, I bet I checkmate her in like 4 moves.’
On September 29, 2009, Mariah Carey (1969- ) released the album Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel. One of the songs, “Candy Bling,” has the line, About the game we played; it was tag, chess, spin the bottle.’
On October 9, 2009, English rapper Chipmunk (1990- ) released the album I Am Chipmunk. One of the songs, “History,” has the line, ‘I make the best I’m surrounding, but all on board like chess to a crown king.’
On October 26, 2009, the Danish pop band Alphabeat released the album The Spell. One of the songs is called “Chess” with the line “Baby let’s quit playing chess.”
On December 21, 2009, the company Young Money Entertainment released the album We Are Young Money. One of the songs, “Pass the Dutch,” has the line, ‘Life’s a game of chess, and I’m headed for your queen.’ It was performed by the rapper Lil Wayne (1982).
In 2010, the Norwegian band Dimmu Borgir released the album Abrahadabra. One of the songs is “Chess with the Abyss.”
In 2010, Alan Menken (1949- ) wrote the music to the “When Will My Life Begin?” in Walt Disney movie Tangled. The lyrics were written by Glenn Slater (1968- ). The song had the line, ‘Then after lunch it’s puzzles and darts and baking, paper mache, a bit of ballet and chess.’ In the movie, it was song by Mandy Moore (1984- ).
On March 2, 2010, Shooter Jennings (1979- ) released the album, Black Ribbons. One of the songs, “Last Night Radio 11:16 PM,” has the line, ‘old men played chess.’
On April 19, 2010, John Grant (1968- ) released the album Queen of Denmark. One of the songs, “Silver Platter Club,” has the line, ‘I wish that I was good at football, baseball, and lacrosse, darts and basketball, and poker, golf and chess.’
On May 30, 2010, the Irish orchestral pop band The Divine Comedy released their album Bang Goes the Knighthood. One of the songs, “Can You Stand Upon One Leg,” has the line, ‘Can you beat your dad at chess, It’s harder than you think.’
On July 7, 2009, the rapper T.I. (1980- ) released the album Paper Trail. One of the songs, “Remember Me,” performed by the rapper T.I. with rapper Mary Blige (1971- ), has the line, ‘I don’t expect nothin’ less in the game of chess; you think five moves ahead and not behind.’
On July 13, 2010, Adam Young (Sky Sailing) released the album An Airplane Carried Me to Bed. One of the songs, “Sailboats,” has the line, ‘And bring the spacecraft ‘n soon while I play chess with the moon.’
On August 2, 2010, the rock band Arcade Fire released the album The Suburbs. One of the songs, “Deep Blue,” has the line, ‘You could never predict it, that it could see through you, Kasparov-Deep Blue 1996.’
On October 25, 2010, Taylor Swift (1989- ) released her album Speak Now. One of the songs, “Dear John,” has the line, ‘and I lived in your chess game, but you changed the rules.’
On December 7, 2010, rapper T.I. released the album No Mercy. One of the songs, “Yeah Ya Know (Takers),” has the line, ‘I’m the king in a game like chess to me.’
In 2011, the alternative rock/pop punk band The Downtown Fiction released the album Let’s Be Animals. One of the songs, “I Just Wanna Run,” has the line, ‘Like a game of chess, I predict your move.’
In 2011, Svetozar Gligoric (1923-2012) presented his first music album, How I survived the 20th century, in Belgrade. It is a collection of 12 compositions, mostly jazz, blues and rap. Gligoric wrote the music and texts and invited some known Serbian musicians to perform with him. The central theme of his work is expressed in the song Life is all we have. Gligoric pointed out the similarity between music and chess: “Each note is like a chess move and from these elements you create your own architecture within known rules.”
On March 11, 2011, Pusha T (1977- ) released the album Fear of God. One of the songs, “My God,” has the line, ‘Take position on the chess board and rearrange it.’
On March 22, 2011, Gucci Mane (1980- ) released his album, the Return of Mr. Zone 6. One of the songs, “Shout Out to My Set,” has the line, ‘Every move around me is a chess move.
On May 30,2011, Christian hip hop artist Tedashii (1977- ) released the album Blacklight. One of the songs, “Can’t Get with You,” has the line, ‘I am not a pawn makin’ moves like a chess game.’
On June 14, 2011, the hip hop group Random Axe released the album Random Axe. One of the songs, “Understand This,” has the line, ‘Life is a chess game, I’m strategically moving, Your move.’ Another song, “Monster Babies,” has the line, ‘Wanna play, I checkmate your chess game.’
On June 17, 2011, the electronic dance music duo LMFAO released the album Sorry for Party Rocking. One of the songs, “With You,” has the line, ‘I used to play chess at the coffee bean.’ ’ On another song, “Take It to the Hole,” there is the line, ‘Four moves ahead, wrong dude to play chess.’
On August 9, 2011, Royce da 5’9” (1977- ) released the album Success is Certain. One of the songs, “On the Boulevard,” has the line, ‘Treat you like a crownless chess piece.’
On October 18, 2011, American singer Everlast released the album Songs of the Ungrateful Living. One of the songs, “My House,” has the line, ‘Could play a little chess.’
On November 1, 2011, rapper Torae released the album, For the Record. One of the songs, “For the Record,” has the line, ‘This is chess not checkers, so I’m checkin’ for the throne.’
On November 14, 2011, the indie pop band Los Campesinos! released the album Hello Sadness. One of the songs, “Every Defeat a Divorce,” has the line, ‘Small comforts found in ABBA Gold and electronic chess.’
On December 13, 2011, Gucci Mane (1980- ) and V-Nasty (1990- ) released the album BAYTL. One of the songs, “Out My Circle,” has the line, ‘Make next move your best move, every move around me is a chess move.’
On December 20, 2011, the American soul band The Internet, released their album The Purple Naked Ladies. One of the songs, “Visions,” has the line, ‘We can play chess at night.’
In 2012, Big Sean (1988- ) released the album Game of Thrones. One of the songs, “Burn,” has the line, ‘And they say life’s a game of chess, you can play checkers all on my jacket.’ The song featured Kanye West (1977- ).
On January 1, 2012, the rapper T.I. (1980- ) released the album, F--- Da City Up. One of the songs, “Oh Yeah,” has the line, ‘push your pawn to play chess with these dude.’
On January 6, 2012, Rick Ross (1976- ) released the mixtape Rich Forever. One of the songs, “Last Breath,” has the line, ‘Chickens jump like checkers, but this game is chess.’
In 2012, rapper Tito Lopez released the song, “Mama Proud.” It has the line, ‘and these freaks wanna play chess.’
On April 2, 2012, the band Qualite Motel released the album Motel California. One of the songs, “Grandfarceur, has the line, ‘plays chess on a bus.’
On August 28, 2012, rapper Rapsody (1983- ) released the album The Idea of Beautiful. One of the songs, “Believe Me,” has the line, ‘Now I see the game for what it is, a big chess move.’
On August 28, 2012, hip hop artist TobyMac (1964- ) released the album, Eye on It. The song “Mac Daddy,” has the line, ‘I’ll teach you to cross it over, then play chess all day with roses.’
On September 11, 2012, the rapper DMX (1970- ) released the album Undisputed. One of the songs, “I Don’t Dance,” has the line, ‘Kells get it crackin’, y’all play chess.’
On November 19, 2012, English songwriter Example (1982) released the album The Evolution of Man. One of the songs, “All My Lows,” has the line, ‘never played chess. Bad guess made the wrong move. Queen takes king now I’ve been removed.’
On November 27, 2012, rapper Freeway (1978- ) released the album Diamond in the Ruff. One of the songs, “Early,” has the line, “I play chess and checkers, I play scrabble.’
In 2013, Spit Gemz released a song called “Invisible Chess.” It includes limes such as “To me it’s not a discussion it’s invisible chess…Have my pawns put you in check.”
In 2013, Adisa “the Bishop” Banjoko released the album Hip-Hop Chess Federation Street Games. Two of the songs are called “One Big Chess Game” and “Chess Clock.”
On February 12, 2013, the rapper Gucci Mane released the album Trap God 2. One of the songs, “Miracle,” has the line, ‘I’m playing chess while you shootin’ pool, make your next move, be your best move.’
On March 26, 2013, rapper Papoose (1978- ) released the album, The Nacirema Dream. One of the songs, “Nacirema Dream,” has the line, ‘He jumpin over me to be the king, not clever; you knew cuz life is a game of chess, not checkers.’ Another song, “Aim Shoot,” has the line, ‘So your next move better be your best move, like a chess move.’
On April 9, 2013, Tyga (1989- ) released the album Hotel California. One of the songs, “Don’t Hate Tha Playa,” has the line, ‘I play chess on them double-d’s.’
On June 11, 2013, the rapper Prodigy (1974-2017) released the album Albert Einstein. One of the songs, “Bible Paper,” has the line, ‘Little doggy this is chess not Tetris.’
On June 18, 2013, rapper J. Cole (1985- ) released the album Born Sinner. One of the songs, “New York Times,” has the line, ‘Once kings, now we pawns in this chess game.’
In September 24, 2013, the Canadian rapper Drake (1986- ) released an album called Nothing Was the Same. One of the songs, “Pound Cake,” has the line, ‘I’m holdin’ all the cards and n---as wanna play chess now.’
On September 30, 2013, English rapper Dizzee Rascal (1984- ) released the album The Fifth. One of the songs, “I Don’t Need a Reason,“ has the line, ‘Life is a game of chess, and all the girls wanna check me.’ A YouTube video of this song shows him playing chess.
On October 1, 2013, rapper Alley Boy (1981- ) released the album Dream Chaser 3. One of the songs, “Stack It Up,” has the line, ‘you a pawn playin’ in the chess game.’
On October 7, 2013, Pusha T (1977- ) released the album My Name Is My Name. One of the songs, “Nosetalgia,” has the line, ‘We playing on a higher game of chess.’
On November 5, 2013, rapper Eminem (1972- ) released the album The Marshall Mathers, LP-2. One of the songs, “Berzerk,” has the line, ‘So if love is a chess game, check mate.’
On February 18, 2014, the metalcore band Issues released the album Issues. One of the songs, “Mad at Myself,” has the line, ‘Playing chess, ain’t no way I’m gonna fight fair.’
On July 29, 2014, the hip hop group Dark Lotus released the album, The Mud, Water, Air and Blood. One of the songs, “Death in a Jar,” has the line, ‘See me play him like a game of chess.’
On August 5, 2014, the rap duo Ces Cru (Godemis and Ubiquitous) released the album Codename Ego Stripper. One of the songs, “Double OT,” has the line, ‘either take the queen, or play the pawn; may your kindness be taken for weakness to played upon; checkmate.’
On August 5, 2014, Billy Joe Shaver (1939- ) released his album Long in the Tooth. It included a song called, “Checkers & Chess,” written by Shaver and Ray Kennedy (1954- ).
On August 8, 2014, the Australian hip hop group Hilltop Hoods, released the album Walking Under Stars. One of the songs, “Cosby Sweater,” has the line, ‘I feel like Bobby Fischer, always four moves ahead of my competition.’
On October 21, 2014, the rapper T.I. (1980- ) released the album, Paperwork. One of the songs, “Oh Yeah,” has the line, ‘push your pawn to play chess with these dudes.’
On December 9, 2014, rapper Ghostface Killah (1970- ) released the album, 36 Seasons. One of the songs, “Double Cross,” has the line, ‘you just another pawn in my chess game.’
On December 21, 2014, Wale (1984- ) released the album Festivus. One of the songs is called “Chess.”
In 2015, Kid Ink (1986- ) released the CD Coast 2 Coast 261. One of the songs, “Me Too,” has the line, ‘I’m a king on this chess board, do I got my Louis checker board.’
In2015, Mike Stud (1988- ) released the album, This Isn’t the Album. One of the songs, “Brightside,” has the line, ‘We playing chess while they’re playing checkers; they send the checks but nobody checks us.’
In 2015, the rapper Rico Love (1982- ) released the single “Somebody Else.” It has the line, ‘They say love is like chess, well I’ve been playing checkers and you was playing Tetris.’
In 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda (1980- ) wrote the lyrics and music to “Cabinet Battle #2,” in the musical Hamilton: An American Musical. It is the 7th song from Act II of the play. One of the lines is, ‘A game of chess, where France is Queen.”
In 2015, Random Encounters released an album called “How to Beat a Monkey at Chess: THE MUSICAL.”
In 2015, the rap group indie tribe released a song called “Chess Game.”
On February 20, 2015, Chris Brown (1989- ) and Tyga (1989- ) released the album Fan of a Fan: The Album. One of the songs, “B****es N Marijuana,” has the line, ‘That body cold, chess game like a pawn to me.’
On April 14, 2015, the hip hop duo Gangrene (The Alchemist and Oh No) released the album Welcome to Los Santos. One of the songs, “Play it Cool,” has the line, ‘I’m a king to a pawn on the chess board.’ The album was included with the Microsoft Windows version of Grand Theft Auto V. A retail version of the album was also released.
On May 4, 2015, the rapper JME (1985- ) released the album Integrity. One of the songs, “Test Me,” has the line, ‘But they’re onto me like the king chess piece.’
On June 23, 2015, the heavy metal band High on Fire released their album, Luminiferous. One of the songs, “The Cave,” had the line, ‘Sort my head to make a mess, game of chess, no pieces left.’
On June 23, 2015, British singer/songwriter Richard Thompson (1949- ) released his album, Still. One of the songs, “No Peace, No End,” has the line, ‘In the big chess game there’s just one winner.’
On August 7, 2015, Frank Turner (1981- ) released his album Positive Songs for Negative People. One of the songs, “Out of Breath,” has the line, ‘Of wondering how much time you’ve got left, of wondering that you’re no good at chess.’
In August 2015, Sean Price (1972-2015) died. His album Songs in the Key of Price was released posthumously. One song, “Go Rambo,” has the line, ‘Like a chess game, Illa keep a angle like a bishop.’
On September 4, 2015, rapper Scarface (1970- ) released the album Deeply Rooted. One of the songs has the line, ‘Never put myself in a compromised position, I’m a chess player.’
On September 18, 2015, rapper Mac Miller (1992-2018) released the album GO:OD AM. One of the songs, “ROS,” has the line, ‘I am the king, you are the queen, look at this chess we’re playing.’
On September 19, 2015, the rapper K-Rino (1970- ) released an album called Makin’ Enemies. One of the songs is called “Chess Pieces.”
On October 16, 2015, the rapper The Game released an album called The Documentary 2.5. One of the songs is called, “Magnus Carlsen.” It has the line, ‘It’s a chess game full of kings and pawns; Black and white squares, just depends.’
On December 8, 2015, Pusha T (1977- ) released the album King Push. One of the songs, “M.F.T.R.,” has the line, ‘Chess moves on your checkerboard, king him.’
In 2016, musician and chessplayer Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
On January 29, 2016, rapper Kevin Gates (1986- ) released the album Islah. One of the songs, “Not the Only One,” had the line, ‘Playin’ chess and the bishop on the muscle.’
On July 22, 2016, Lil Durk (1992- ) released the album Lil Durk 2X. One of the songs, “Glock Up,” has the line, ‘It’s Louis V all over me, I swear I’m in a chess club.’
On July 29, 2016, DJ Khaled (1975- ) released the album Major Key. One of the songs, “Nas Album Done,” has the line, ‘I’m playin’ chess with babies.’
On August 20, 2016, Frank Ocean (1987- ) released the album Blond. One of the songs, “Future Free,” has the line, ‘Dog this is chess now.’
On September 29, 2016, William Finn (1952- ) released an album called Falsettos. One of the songs is called “The Chess Game.” The lyrics were written by William Finn and James Lapine.
In 2017, the American rapper Spose (1985- ) released an album called Good Luck with Your Life. One of the songs is “Checkers or Chess.”
In 2017, Bebe Rexha (1989- ) released an album called Unreleased. One of the songs is called “Chess Piece” with the line ‘Cause I ain’t no no no no chess piece while you play me.’
In 2017, Brandyn Kaine released the song called “Chess Piece” with references to chess.
On March 10, 2017, the rapper J.I.D. (1990- ) released the album The Never Story. One of the songs, “Somebody,” has the line, ‘The rap game like checkers and chess.’
On March 24, 2017, Mike WiLL Made-It (1989- ) released the album Ransom 2. One of the songs, “On the Come Up,” has the line, ‘Quick to check a b----, yeah I check her, Even though life’s a game of chess, ‘Cause I’m living play-by-play, day-by-day.’
On March 31, 2017, the Belgian singer Loic Nottet (1996- ) released the album Selfocracy. One of the songs, “Mud Blood,” has the line, ‘We want to take your out, like in a game of chess, mama.’
On March 31, 2017, Rodney Crowell (1950- ) released his album, Close Ties. One of the songs, “Life Without Susanna,” has the line, ‘locked in a deadly game of chess.’
On April 7, 2017, Zand released an album called Xeraclius. It included the song called “Chess.”
On April 27, 2017, rapper Young M.A (1992- ) released the album Herstory. One of the songs, “Hot Sauce,” has the line, ‘This is chess, not checkers, learn the game dude.’
On May 5, 2017, rapper Logic (1990- ) released the album Everybody. One of the songs, “Mos Definitely,” has the line, ‘Gotta play the game like a chess board.’
On May 5, 2017, the American rock band At the Drive-In released their album In-ter- a-li-a. One of the songs, “Torrentially Cutshaw,” has the lines, ‘Frayed the husk of an ivory pawn, sickles in the ice froze a game of chess.’
On May 12, 2017, English rapper J. Hus (1996- ) released the album Common Sense. One of the songs, “Bouff Daddy,” has the line, ‘I’m just playin’ chess wit’ my best mate, teach you ‘bout check-mate.’
On May 19, 2017, the hip hop duo The Underachievers (AKTHESAVIOR and Issa Gold) released the album Renaissance. One of the songs, “Different World,” has the line, ‘Movin’ pieces on the board, my chess killer, Bobby Fischer, used to serve right out the building.’
On May 26, 2017, rapper Lil Yachty (1997- ) released the album Teenage Emotions. One of the songs, “Priorities,” has the line, ‘Make your next move your best, life’s a game of chess.’
On June 16, 2017, the rapper 2 Chainz (1977- ) released the album Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. One of the songs, “Realize,” has the line, ‘See this is chess, not checkers.’
On July 21, 2017, Tyler, The Creator, (1991- ) released the album Flower Boy. One of the songs, “I Ain’t Got Time!,” has the line, ‘I just handle all my business like a chess board (Tick tock, tick, tock).’
On August 4, 2017, hip hop artist Andy Mineo (1988- ) released the album Magic & Bird. One of the songs, “Say Less,” has the line, ‘Think they winnin’ but they never play chess.’
On August 11, 2017, rapper Moneybag Yo (1991- ) released the album Federal 3X. One of the songs, “Vent,” has the line, ‘I just play chess, not checkers.’
On August 18, 2017, the album Imperius Rex was released posthumously after the death of its creator, Sean Price (1972-2015). One of the songs, “Rap Professor,” has the line, ‘Life is a chess game I’m strategic with movement; your move; checkmate.’
On September 14, 2017, JXXIII (J23) wrote a song called “Chess” which includes the line “Playing chess, making moves tyrna flex.”
On October 6, 2017, the rapper Belly released the album Mumble Rap. One of the songs, “Alcantara,” has the line, ‘This is Bobby Fischer chess; the king takes over your rook then what’s next?’
On November 17, 2017, rapper Jaden Smith (1998- ) released the album, Syre. One of the songs, “Hope,” has the line, ‘We’re playing chess and I’m the bishop.’
On December 15, 2017, Eminem (1972- ) released the album Revival. One of the songs, “River,” has the line, ‘It’s a chess match, she’s on his back like a jet-pack.’
In 2018, rapper Kendrick Lamar (1987- ) produced and curated the film soundtrack for Black Panther. One of the songs, “Bloody Waters,” has the line, ‘Sweating in chess game, try move like kings move.’ The song was performed by Ab-Soul (1987- ), Anderson Paak (1986- ), and James Blake (1988- ).
On January 26, 2018, the heavy metal band Machine Head released their album Catharsis. One of the songs, “Screaming at the Sun,” has the line, ‘The plan I devise, in this chess game to shatter the crook.’
On Feb 16, 2018, Nipsey Hussle (1985- ) released the album Victory Lap. One of the songs, “Hussle & Motivate,” has the line, ‘Playing no games if it wasn’t chess.’
In March 2018, Rick Springfield (1949- ) released the album The Snake King. One of the songs, “Orpheus in the Underworld,” has the line, ‘These games of chess you play to press.’
On April 12, 2018, Nicki Minaj (1982- ) released the single, “Chun-Li.” It has the line, ‘You play checkers, couldn’t beat me playin’ chess.’
On May 25, 2018, Pusha T (1977- ) released the album Daytona. One of the songs, “The Games We Play, has the line, ‘The only kingpin who ain’t sinkin’ chess moves, that means my thrie eye ain’t blinkin.’’
On June 29, 2018, Canadian rapper Drake (1986- ) released an album called Scorpion. One of the songs, “I’m Upset,” has the line, ‘So offended that I had to double check. You tryna check? This is real life, n---as think we playin’ chess.’
On August 3, 2018, rapper Travis Scott (1992- ) released the album Astroworld. One of the songs, “Houstonfornification,” has the line, ‘Nobody can check me when it’s chess.’
Musicians Who Play(ed) Chess: Jean Absil (composer), Ronnie Aldrich (jazz pianist), Jon Anderson (Yes), Paul Badura-Skoda (pianist), Sam Baron, Walter Becker (Steely Dan), Sir Thomas Beecham (conductor), Leonard Bernstein, Tony Blackburn (singer), Art Blakey (jazz musician), Sir Arthur Bliss (composer), Bono (U2), Sonny Bono (singer), Alexander Borodin (composer), Chris Botti (trumpet player), David Bowie (singer), Johannes Brahms (composer), Anthony Braxton (jazz composer), Adolph Brodsky (violinist), Clifford Brown (jazz musician), John Cage (piano composer), Enrico Caruso (opera singer), Pablo Casals (cellist), Feodor Chaliapin (opera singer), Ray Charles (musician), Frederic Chopin (pianist), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Bill Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Bobby Darin (singer), Neil Diamond (singer), DJ Green Lantern (rapper), Antonin Dvorak (composer), Bob Dylan (musician), Hanns Eisler (composer), Mischa Elman (violinist), Ferenc Erkel (composer), Adam Faith (musician), Eddie Fisher (singer), Charles Fox (composer), Zino Francescatti, Richard “Kinky” Friedman (singer), Emil Gilels, Dizzy Gillespie (jazz musician) , Gerry Goffin (songwriter), Alexander Goldenweiser (pianist), Josh Groban (singer), GZA (rapper), Daryl Hall (Hall & Oates), Sir Charles Halle (composer) , Oscar Hammerstein II (musical director), Jerry Harrison (pianist), Billie Holliday (singer), Vladimir Horowitz (composer), Bruce Howard (Dr. Robert – Blow Monkeys), Immortal Technique (rapper), Rakaa Iriscience, Jay Z (rapper), Reginald Johnson (composer), Nic Jones (folk singer), Leo Kahn (violinist), Aram Khachaturian (composer), Fritz Kreisler (violinist), Gene Krupa (drummer), Lady Gaga (singer), Julius La Rosa, John Lennon (Beatles), Sean Lennon (musician), John Lill (pianist), LL Cool J (rapper), Ludacris (rapper), Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy), Lorin Maazel (violinist), Madonna (singer), Johnny Marks (songwriter), Wynton Marsalis (jazz trumpeter), Dean Martin (singer), Felix Mendelssohn (musician), Yehudi Menuhin (violinist), Dominic Miller (guitarist), Joni Mitchell (singer), Moby (musician), Ennio Morricone, Modest Mussorgsky (composer), Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills & Nash), Nelly (rapper), Harmon Oscar Nelson (musician), Willie Nelson (musician), David Oistrakh (violinist), Yoko Ono (musician), Elaine Paige (singer), Charlie Parker (jazz sazophonist), Louis Persinger (violinist), Phish, Gregor Piatigorsky (cellist), Sergey Prokofiev (composer), Jason Rebello (keyboard), Helen Reddy (singer), Ruggiero Ricci (violinist), Tim Rice (lyricist), Sviatoslav Richter (pianist), Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (composer), Paul Robeson (singer), Moriz Rosenthal (pianist), Leon Rosselson (songwriter), Giochino Rossini (composer), Mstislav Rostropovich, David Lee Roth (singer), Arthur Rubinstein (pianist), RZA (rapper), Ernest Schelling (pianist), Harold Schonberg (music critic), Robert Schumann (composer), Ronnie Scott (jazz musician), Vivienne Segal, Artie Shaw (clarinet player), Dmitri Shostakovich (composer), Jessica Simpson (singer), Frank Sinatra (singer), Gracie Slick (Jefferson Airplane/Starship), Will Smith (rapper), Dusty Springfield (singer), Ringo Star (Beatles), Isaac Stern (violinist), Sticky Fingaz (rapper), Sting (musician), Richard Strauss (composer),Ernest Toch (composer), Bjrn Ulvaeus (ABBA), Giuseppe Verdi (composer), Heitor Villa-Lobos (musician), Klaus Voormann (musician), Robert Wagner, West Indian Girl (clarinet player), Paul Whiteman (jazz musician), Rudolf Heinriach Willmers (pianist), Tadeusz Wronski (violinist)
Chess Players Who Are (Were) Musicians or involved in music: Henry William Barry, Armand Blackmar, Calvin Blocker, Hans Bruehl, Vitaly Chekover, Noam Elkies, Svetozar Gligoric, Igor Ivanov, Hans Johner, Pau Johner, Josef Kling, Rudolph Loman, Sam Loyd, William Napier, Francois Andre Danican Philidor, Jean-Louis Preti, Isaac Rice, Anthony Santasiere, Nigel Short, Vassily Smyslov, Emil Sutovsky, Mark Taimanov, Eileen Trammer, George Walker, Eugene Znosko-Borovsky, Johannes Zukertort
Chess players whose hobby includes (included) music: Alexander Alekhine, Vishy Anand, Yelena Dembo, Anatoly Karpov, Peter Leko, Shakhriyar Mamedyanov, Paul Motwani, Natalia Pogonina, Fred Reinfeld, Samul Reshevsky, Mikhail Tal
“Going Strong at 85 – Mark Taimanov’s Birthday,” – ChessBase News, Feb 16, 2011
Greschak, “Connections Between Music and Chess,” 1999
Harley, “Music and Chess,” Music and Letters, Vol. 12, Issue 3, Julu 1931, pp. 276-281
Mansfield, “Music and Chess,” The Musical Quarterly, July 1, 1928, pp. 358-365
“Music and Chess,” Chess Life, March 1967, p. 67; May 1979, p. 244; Jan 1997, p. 29
Persinger, “Chess and Music,” Chess Life, July 1961, pp. 209-210
Silver, “Musical Giants and Chess,” ChessBase News, Mar 6, 2015 -
https://en.chessbase.com/post/musical-giants-and-chess Wall, “François Andre Danican Philidor,” - http://www.billwallchess.com/articles/Philidor.htm
Wall, “Musicians and Chess,” - http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/musicians.htm
Winter, “Chess and Music” - http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/music.html
Zographos, Music and Chess, 2017
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