Chess Marathon: Tunde Onakoya Breaks Guinness World Record

By: Gyang Dakwo

A campaigning Nigerian chess champion Tunde Onakoya has played the game non-stop for 58 hours to break the world record.

Onakoya, 29, hopes to raise $1m (¬£800,000) for children’s education across Africa through the marathon attempt that began in New York City’s Times Square on Wednesday.

He crossed the 58-hour mark in the early hours of Saturday, beating the current record of 56 hours, nine minutes and 37 seconds, set in 2018 by Norwegian pair Hallvard Haug Flatebo and Sjur Ferkingstad.

Mr Onakoya played against Shawn Martinez, a US chess champion, in line with guidelines that any record attempt must be made by two players playing continuously for the entire duration.

The record attempt is “for the dreams of millions of children across Africa without access to education,” said Mr Onakoya, who founded Chess in Slums Africa in 2018.

The charity aims to support the education of at least one million of the continent’s poorest children.

After hitting the 24-hour mark, Mr Onakoya said: “My energy is at 100% right now because my people are here supporting me with music.”

Keeping him going was lots of water and the popular West African dish jollof rice.

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

Taiwo Adeyemi, Mr Onakoya’s manager, said: “The support has been overwhelming from Nigerians in the US, global leaders, celebrities and hundreds of passers-by.”

His record attempt was closely followed in Nigeria, where he regularly organises chess competitions for young people living on the streets.

Among those to lend their backing were music superstar Davido and Nigeria’s former vice president Yemi Osinbajo, who in a message to Mr Onakoya on the social media platform X said: “Remember your own powerful words ‘It is possible to do great things from a small place’.”