A Nigerian chess master plays for sixty hours in an attempt to break the current record

Apr 23, 2024 | Entertainment | 0 comments

Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate Tunde Onakoya embarked on a nonstop 60-hour chess marathon in New York City’s Times Square, aiming to break the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon.

The 29-year-old initially aimed to play the royal game for 58 hours but exceeded that, ending at around 12:40 a.m. Saturday (April 20). For every hour of the match, Onakoya and his opponent, American chess champion Shawn Martinez, had only five minutes of break. Sometimes, the breaks were grouped, during which Onakoya used the opportunity to catch up with Nigerians and New Yorkers cheering him on, occasionally joining in their dancing.

The attempt, in line with Guinness World Record guidelines, required two players to play continuously for the entire duration.

If confirmed by the Guinness World Record organization, Tunde Onakoya will become the new holder of the longest chess marathon record. The Nigerian, who began the record attempt on April 17, aims to raise $1 million for children’s education across Africa.

The current chess marathon record stands at 56 hours, 9 minutes, and 37 seconds.

Support grew online and at the scene, where a blend of African music entertained onlookers and supporters amid cheers and applause. Among the dozens cheering Onakoya on the scene was Nigerian music star Davido.

“This is for the dreams of millions of children across Africa without access to education,” said Onakoya, who founded Chess in Slums Africa in 2018, aiming to support the education of at least 1 million children in slums across the continent.

“My energy is at 100% right now because my people are here supporting me with music,” Onakoya said Thursday evening after the players crossed the 24-hour mark.

Onakoya’s menu consisted of lots of water and jollof rice, one of West Africa’s best-known dishes.

According to Taiwo Adeyemi, Onakoya’s manager, a total of $22,000 was raised within the first 20 hours of the attempt.

“The support has been overwhelming from Nigerians in the U.S., global leaders, celebrities, and hundreds of passersby,” he said.

Onakoya’s attempt was closely followed in Nigeria, where he regularly organized chess competitions for young people living on the streets.

More than 10 million school-age children are not in school in the West African country — one of the world’s highest rates.

Among those who publicly supported him are celebrities and public office holders, including Nigeria’s former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who wrote to Onakoya on the social media platform X, “Remember your own powerful words: ‘It is possible to do great things from a small place.'”

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