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Nigerian Chess Prodigy Tunde Onakoya Breaks Global Record with 60-Hour Chess Marathon

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Ayize claire

Apr 21, 2024

 Playing nonstop for 60 hours, Onakoya surpassed the previous record of 56 hours, 9 minutes, and 37 seconds set in 2018

More than 10 million school-age children are not in school in the West African country – one of the highest numbers per country in the world. 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 US, global leaders, celebrities and hundreds of passersby,” he said.
Nigerian chess champion Tunde Onakoya with people cheering him in the background

In a remarkable feat of endurance and skill, Nigerian chess champion Tunde Onakoya has set a new world record for the longest continuous chess game. Playing nonstop for 60 hours, Onakoya surpassed the previous record of 56 hours, 9 minutes, and 37 seconds set in 2018. This historic event took place in New York City's iconic Times Square, drawing spectators from around the globe and raising significant funds for underprivileged children's education in Africa.


A Marathon for a Cause

29-year-old Onakoya, a staunch advocate for child education, embarked on this chess marathon with a dual purpose: to break a world record and to raise awareness and funds for educational initiatives. His project, Chess in Slums, aims to empower marginalized youths in Nigeria through chess, providing them with the skills to build a brighter future.


Record-Breaking Game Details

The record-breaking attempt began on a Wednesday and concluded early Saturday morning at approximately 12:40 AM GMT. Onakoya faced off against American chess champion Shawn Martinez, adhering to strict guidelines set by the Guinness World Records. Each player was allowed a mere five minutes of break per hour, which they could accumulate and use strategically.


Community and Global Support

The event not only showcased Onakoya's formidable chess prowess but also highlighted the strong community support he received.

"At 3 AM last night, I was ready to give up... but Nigerians from all over the world were with me overnight. We were singing and dancing together, and I couldn't just give up on them," Onakoya shared with the AFP news agency.

The challenge raised over $22,000 within the first 20 hours, with contributions pouring in from Nigerians in the US, global leaders, celebrities, and hundreds of bystanders. Nigerian President Bola Tinubu praised Onakoya, celebrating his achievement as a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of Nigeria’s youth.


The Impact of Chess in Slums

Launched in 2018 in Ikorodu, on the outskirts of Lagos, Chess in Slums has become a transformative platform for many young Nigerians. Over 10 million school-age children in Nigeria are not attending school, placing the nation among the highest in the world for non-enrolled children. Onakoya's initiative provides a crucial opportunity for these children to engage in educational activities outside the traditional classroom setting.


Guinness World Records' Review

While the Guinness World Records organization has yet to officially confirm the new record, the validation process is underway and could take several weeks. Meanwhile, Onakoya's extraordinary achievement continues to inspire and resonate, demonstrating the profound impact that passion and perseverance can have on communities and beyond.


Tunde Onakoya's record-setting chess marathon not only highlights his personal dedication and skill but also casts a spotlight on broader societal issues. By merging his love for chess with his commitment to social change, Onakoya is paving the way for future generations, proving that even the game of kings can be a powerful tool for education and empowerment.

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