Nigerian Tunde Onakoya breaks record for longest chess marathon

Nigerian Tunde Onakoya has broken the world record for the longest chess marathon after playing unbeaten for more than 58 hours in New York City’s Times Square to raise money for underprivileged children.

Onakoya, 29, embarked on his marathon session on Wednesday, and was visibly emotional when he finally surpassed the 58-hour mark on Friday night in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

“I can’t process a lot of the emotions I feel right now. I don’t have the right words for them. But I know we did something truly remarkable,” he told AFP.

“(At) 3 am last night, that was the moment I was ready to just give it all up… but Nigerians traveled from all over the world. And they were with me overnight,” he continued.

“We were singing together and they were dancing together and I couldn’t just give up on them.”

The previous record had been 56 hours of play.

Onakoya is well known in Nigeria, where he launched the Chess in Slums project in 2018 in Ikorodu, on the outskirts of Lagos.

The organization offers often-marginalized young people, many of whom are not in school and work to help their families, a space to learn to play chess.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu congratulated Onakoya in statement for “setting a new world chess record and sounding the gong of Nigeria’s resilience, self-belief, and ingenuity.”

Onakoya, he added, had “shown a streak customary among Nigeria’s youth population, the audacity to make good change happen… even from corners of disadvantage.”

By beating the world record, Onakoya hopes to raise $1 million to help underprivileged children in Africa.


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