ABQ combines rap and chess to bring crowd downtown

By Soroi Jones / NM News Port

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller welcomed iconic rapper GZA to town in September. And put on a chess tournament, too.

Gary Eldridge Grice, aka GZA, performing at Burque Live, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2023.
(All photos by Soroi Jones / NM News Port)

Learners’ Chess participants going head-to-head in tournament matches.

The rapper, Keller and organizers took to the Albuquerque Convention Center, where dozens of children and family members came to play chess against each other.

Tournament players accepting signed participation certificates from Grice.

“Chess has always been a major part of my life,” Grice told the crowd.

Vendors on the plaza were part of the Burque Live block party.

Following the tournament, the Burque Live evening block party and concert cranked up on Central Avenue, stretching from 5th to 8th Street.

“It’s all an effort to activate downtown Albuquerque,” Sarah Allen, Operations Coordinator, said.

Lee Fields takes the stage with accompanying musicians.

The concert began when legendary soul singer Lee Fields took the stage, attracting a growing crowd.

GZA keeps Albuquerque pumped as he closes out the night with his performance.

Allen said one of the city’s goals is “to make people feel safe downtown, and have fun downtown.”

She said Mayor Keller is behind this effort… and credited him with working hard with event organizers to keep things running smoothly.