Nigerian Chess Champion Breaks World Record in New York, Raising Funds for Children's Education

Nigerian chess champion Tunde Onakoya breaks Guinness World Record for longest chess marathon, raising over $130,000 for his charity Chess in Slums Africa to educate 1 million children across the continent.

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Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Nigerian Chess Champion Breaks World Record in New York, Raising Funds for Children's Education

Nigerian Chess Champion Breaks World Record in New York, Raising Funds for Children's Education. Photo credit: Anthony Levin/Chess.com

Nigerian chess champion Tunde Onakoya has broken the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon, playing continuously for an astonishing 60 hours in New York City's iconic Times Square. The 29-year-old grandmaster from Lagos surpassed the previous record of 56 hours, 9 minutes, and 37 seconds set by Norwegians Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad in 2018.

Onakoya's record-breaking feat was part of a fundraising campaign for his charity, Chess in Slums Africa, which aims to educate 1 million children across the continent through the game of chess. The marathon attracted global attention and support, with Onakoya raising over $22,000 within the first 20 hours of his attempt. "I am doing this for the kids," Onakoya said during the event. "Chess has the power to change lives, and I want to bring that opportunity to as many children as possible."

Throughout the grueling 60-hour marathon, Onakoya faced off against American chess champion Shawn Martinez, as per Guinness World Record guidelines. Despite the physical and mental challenges, including moments of exhaustion and stomach pain, Onakoya persevered, driven by his passion for the cause and the overwhelming support from the Nigerian community in the United States and around the world.

Why this matters: Onakoya's achievement not only establishes a new world record but also shines a spotlight on the importance of education and the transformative power of chess. By raising funds for Chess in Slums Africa, Onakoya is working to provide underprivileged children with access to a game that can foster critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and self-confidence.

The record attempt was closely followed in Nigeria, where Onakoya regularly organizes chess competitions for young people living on the streets. Nigerian President Bola Tinubu congratulated Onakoya for "setting a new world chess record and sounding the gong of Nigeria's resilience, self-belief, and ingenuity." As of Saturday, Chess in Slums Africa had raised an additional $110,000 thanks to Onakoya's record-breaking event, bringing the organization closer to its $1 million goal.

Key Takeaways

  • Nigerian chess champion Tunde Onakoya set a new Guinness World Record for longest chess marathon.
  • Onakoya played continuously for 60 hours, surpassing the previous record of 56 hours.
  • The record-breaking feat was part of a fundraiser for Onakoya's charity, Chess in Slums Africa.
  • Onakoya raised over $22,000 in the first 20 hours and an additional $110,000 from the event.
  • The record attempt aimed to provide underprivileged children access to chess and its benefits.