Nigerian Chess Champion Tunde Onakoya Smashes Guinness World Record with 58-Hour Marathon in Times Square


In an impressive display of endurance and determination, Tunde Onakoya, a 29-year-old Nigerian chess champion and advocate for child education, made history by playing chess nonstop for 58 hours in New York City’s iconic Times Square. His record-breaking feat aimed to raise $1 million for children’s education initiatives across Africa, showcasing his commitment to empowering young minds through chess.

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Onakoya’s marathon endeavor began on Wednesday, with the goal of surpassing the previous Guinness World Record of 56 hours, 9 minutes, and 37 seconds set in 2018 by Norwegian players Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad. In the early hours of Saturday, Onakoya achieved his monumental milestone, crossing the 58-hour mark and etching his name in the annals of chess history.

While the Guinness World Record organization has yet to officially comment on Onakoya’s attempt, the atmosphere in Times Square was electric as supporters rallied behind him. Onakoya adhered to the record guidelines by engaging in continuous gameplay alongside American chess champion Shawn Martinez, captivating onlookers with their strategic moves and unwavering focus.

Amidst the intense gameplay, a vibrant blend of African music filled the air, adding to the excitement and energy of the event. Onakoya’s organization, Chess in Slums Africa, founded in 2018, aims to provide educational opportunities for disadvantaged children across the continent. With the record attempt, Onakoya sought to shine a spotlight on the plight of millions of African children deprived of access to education.

Fueling his marathon effort with lots of water and jollof rice, a beloved West African dish, Onakoya pushed through each hour of gameplay with remarkable resilience. With only five minutes of break time allotted for every hour of play, Onakoya seized the brief respites to connect with supporters, share moments of camaraderie, and draw inspiration from the cheers and encouragement of Nigerians, New Yorkers, and well-wishers worldwide.

Within the first 20 hours of the attempt, Onakoya’s initiative had already raised an impressive $22,000, underscoring the overwhelming support from Nigerians in the U.S., global leaders, celebrities, and passersby. In Nigeria, where Onakoya is known for organizing chess competitions for underprivileged youth, his record-breaking endeavor resonated deeply, highlighting the urgent need to address the educational challenges facing millions of children in the country.

Among Onakoya’s vocal supporters is Nigeria’s former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who commended his determination and reminded him of the power of his own words: “It is possible to do great things from a small place.” Onakoya’s monumental achievement serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration, inspiring positive change and advocating for the transformative power of education, one move at a time.

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