At 58 hours, Nigerian chess master Tunde Onakoya breaks the longest chess marathon

Stephen Nartey April 22, 2024
Tunde Onakoya/Photo credit: Tunde Onakoya via Instagram

Nigerian chess master Tunde Onakoya has set a new record for the longest chess marathon, playing continuously for 58 hours under the bright lights of New York’s Times Square.

Despite the grueling hours, Onakoya remained dedicated to the board. He aims to raise $1 million for charity to benefit chess education for children worldwide.

His efforts drew support from hundreds, including Nigerian Afrobeats sensation Davido, who cheered him up during the marathon, according to the BBC. As the chess master pushed through his marathon chess session in Times Square, supporters energized him with classic Nigerian dishes, including jollof rice, and music.

Back in Nigeria, fans rallied behind him on Twitch, a video streaming service, to cheer him on as he conquered the record. Others left messages of admiration and support during the stream, commending Onakoya as a source of inspiration for many.

“Thank you for daring to dream and showing us the levels to which we can all take our brain power to! Well done Tunde! I’m going to pick up my chess board back haha,” one commenter wrote.

“Mr Onakoya is a symbol of excellence and resilience that distinguish Nigerians both at home and abroad… Go, make history, and inscribe our name in gold,” Nigeria’s Vice-President Kashim Shettima posted on X.

“Lagos is rooting for you,” Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu told Onakoya, adding that his attempt was “a powerful testament to how greatness can emerge from anywhere”.

Onakoya, aged 29, surpassed the previous Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon, which stood at 56 hours, nine minutes, and 37 seconds, set by a Norwegian duo in 2018.

Raised in poverty in Lagos’s floating slums, the chess doyen found solace and opportunity in chess, leading him to establish Chess in Slums Africa, a nonprofit that teaches the game to underprivileged children while supporting their education.

He serves on the board of The Gift of Chess, a U.S. nonprofit dedicated to distributing one million chess sets to underserved communities by 2030, aiming to transform lives through the game.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 22, 2024


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