Tunde Onakoya: Nigerian Smashes Chess Marathon Record

Tunde Onakoya: Nigerian Smashes Chess Marathon Record

In the vibrant heart of New York City’s Times Square, Nigerian chess master Tunde Onakoya has achieved a remarkable feat, breaking the record for the longest chess marathon.

After an astonishing 58 consecutive hours of play, Onakoya remained steadfast at the board, displaying incredible endurance and skill.

His goal extends beyond personal achievement; he aims to raise $1 million (£805,000) for charity to support chess education for millions of children.

The support for Onakoya has been immense, with hundreds of supporters from New York’s Nigerian community gathering to cheer him on, including Nigerian Afrobeats star Davido. They provided music and replenished him with supplies of classic Nigerian dishes, such as the beloved national staple, jollof rice.

Back in Nigeria, people rallied behind Onakoya as they watched him break the record on Twitch, a video-streaming service. Supporters left messages on the stream, praising Onakoya as an inspiration.

“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 Vice-President Kahim 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”.

The previous world record, recognised by Guinness World Records, was 56 hours, nine minutes, and 37 seconds, set by Norwegian duo Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad in 2018.

Onakoya, 29, attributes his success to chess, which he says saved him from the overwhelming poverty he faced growing up in Lagos’s infamous floating slums.

His non-profit organization, Chess in Slums Africa, teaches the game to children from poor communities and supports their education.

Onakoya also serves as a board member of the US non-profit The Gift of Chess, which aims to transform lives through chess and plans to distribute one million chess sets to underserved communities by 2030.

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