Tunde Onakoya: Chess Marathon in NYC to Support Education

by Sylvia Eze
Tunde Onakoya shatters chess marathon record in NYC to support education

Nigerian chess grandmaster Tunde Onakoya has just finished playing the longest marathon game of chess ever recorded. His epic 60-hour session in New York City’s Times Square was more than just a personal feat. It was also a means to raise $1 million for underprivileged children’s education across Africa.

The 29-year-old national chess champion started his record attempt on Wednesday. Originally targeting 58 consecutive hours of play according to Guinness World Record guidelines. However, he later went on to surpass the previous marathon record of 56 hours and 9 minutes set by two Norwegians in 2018. Finally adjourning after an incredible 60 hours early Saturday morning.

“I can’t process a lot of the emotions I feel right now…but I know we did something truly remarkable,” Tunde Onakoya told AFP after conquering exhaustion to continue playing past his goal. He credited the energy of Nigerian fans who travelled worldwide to cheer him on through the gruelling overnight hours.

Guinness officially verified the new record on April 26, which inspired celebrations in his home country. Even the Nigerian President himself, Bola Tinubu, hailed the grandmaster for “sounding the gong of Nigeria’s resilience” through his act.

The marathon was the latest initiative of Tunde Onakoya’s Chess in Slums project. The project introduces the game to underprivileged children in Nigeria, where over 10 million kids are out of school. Within 20 hours, $22,000 had already been raised to support education access.

Having experienced poverty himself growing up in Lagos, Onakoya hopes his self-described “60 Hours for those who dare to dream” will inspire the belief that any ambition is possible through determination. A lesson he embodied by pushing his mind and body to the limits in one of the world’s most iconic settings.

Now from the bright lights of Times Square to the dimly-lit slums where it all started, Tunde Onakoya’s record-demolishing charitable feat has transformed 64 squares into a potent symbol of human potential.

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