Nigerian champion Onakoya in New York attempts to break world record for longest chess marathon

(19 Apr 2024)
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New York, United States – 18 April 2024
1. Various of Nigerian chess and child education advocate Tunde Onakoya in Times Square
2. Various of Onakoya playing chess

STORYLINE:
A Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate is attempting to play chess nonstop for 58 hours in New York City’s Times Square to break the global record for the longest chess marathon.

Tunde Onakoya, 29, hopes to raise $1 million for children’s education across Africa.

He is playing against Shawn Martinez, a U.S. chess champion, in line with Guinness World Record guidelines that any attempt to break the record must be made by two players who would play continuously for the entire duration.

Onakoya had played chess for 42 hours by 1000 GMT on Friday.

Support is growing online and at the scene, where a blend of African music is keeping onlookers and supporters entertained amid cheers and applause.

The current chess marathon record is 56 hours, 9 minutes and 37 seconds, achieved in 2018 by Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad, both from Norway.

Onakoya founded Chess in Slums Africa in 2018.

The organization wants to support the education of at least 1 million children in deprived areas across the continent.

A total of $22,000 was raised within the first 20 hours of the attempt, according to Onakoya’s manager.

For every hour of game played, Onakoya and his opponent get only five minutes break.

The breaks are sometimes grouped together and Onakoya uses them to catch up with Nigerians and New Yorkers cheering him on.

He even joins in with their dancing sometimes.

Onakoya’s attempt is closely followed in Nigeria where he regularly organizes chess competitions for young people living on the streets to boost his cause.

More than 10 million children are out of school in the West African country — one of the world’s highest rates.

The Guinness World Record organization has yet to publicly comment about Onakoya’s attempt, which could reach 58 hours by midnight on Friday.

It sometimes takes weeks for the organization to confirm any new record.

AP video shot by John Minchillo

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