Champ Hits 60 Hours in Attempt at Chess Marathon Record

Tunde Onakoya raises money for education of poor African children
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2024 11:50 AM CDT
Champ Hits 60 Hours in Attempt at Chess Marathon Record
People celebrate as Tunde Onakoya, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, marks 46 hours of continuous chess Friday in Times Square in New York.   (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya broke the world record for the longest chess marathon—56 hours, 9 minutes, 37 seconds of nonstop play—and kept going. The Nigerian chess champion reached his goal of 58 hours early Saturday in New York's Time Square, putting him comfortably past the mark set by Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad, both of Norway, in 2018, the Guardian reports. "Three AM last night, that was the moment I was ready to just give it all up," he told AFP, adding, "but Nigerians traveled from all over the world." Onakoya said they were dancing, he was singing with his fans, "and I couldn't just give up on them."

He then posted on X that his new goal was 60 hours, which CNN reports he hit. Onakoya, 29, is trying to raise $1 million for children's education across Africa. He's the founder of the organization Chess in Slums Africa, which teaches the game to children in poor communities and helps with their education, per the BBC. Onakoya said chess rescued him from Lagos' floating slums. Guinness World Records has not commented on Onakoya's attempt. His opponent was a US champion, Shawn Martinez; Guinness requires the same two players to compete for the entire marathon. They got breaks of 5 minutes per hour. In addition to the Afrobeats music and emotional support, plenty of water and Nigerian jollof rice kept Onakoya going. (More chess stories.)

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