Nigerian chess master plays for 60 hours in bid to set new world record

Nigerian chess master plays for 60 hours in bid to set new world record

Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate Tunde Onakoya played chess nonstop for 60 hours in New York City’s Times Square in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon.

The 29-year-old initially set out to play the royal game for 58 hours but went beyond that ending at about 12:40 a.m. Saturday (Apr. 20).

For every hour of game played, Onakoya and his opponent got only five minutes’ break.

The breaks were sometimes grouped together, and Onakoya used them to catch up with Nigerians and New Yorkers cheering him on. He even joined in with their dancing sometimes.

Onakoya played against Shawn Martinez, an American chess champion, in line with Guinness World Record guidelines that any attempt to break the record must be made by two players who would play continuously for the entire duration.

If the achievemnt is confirmed by the Guinness World Record organization, Tunde Onakoya will become the new holder of the longest chess marathonrecord.

The Nigerian hopes to raise $1 million for children’s education across Africa through the record attempt that began on April 17.

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

Outpouring support

Support had been growing online and at the scene, where a blend of African music kept onlookers and supporters entertained amid cheers and applause. Among the dozens who cheered Onakoya on at the scene was Nigerian music star Davido.

The record attempt is “for the dreams of millions of children across Africa without access to education,” said Onakoya, who founded Chess in Slums Africa in 2018. The organization wants 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.

On Onakoya’s menu: Lots of water and jollof rice, one of West Africa’s best-known dishes.

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

“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 organizes 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 have 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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