Internet InfoMedia in new york city chess champion sets new world record for longest chess marathon

A Nigerian man has set the Guinness World Record for “longest chess marathon” after playing for nearly five straight days. 

Tunde Onakoya, 29, began his 60-hour chess game in Times Square in New York City on Wednesday, April 17, before calling it quits at 12:40 a.m. on Saturday, April 20, said The Associated Press. 

The previous record was 56 hours, 9 minutes and 37 seconds, and was set in 2018 by Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad of Norway, said the AP. 

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Guinness World Records has yet to confirm that the record was broken; this process can take weeks, the AP noted.

Onakoya played his chess game against American chess player Shawn Martinez. 

The rules of the record state that a player has to play the same player for the entirety of the chess marathon. 

two men playing chess

Tunde Onakoya, right, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, recently set the record for “longest chess marathon” after a 60-hour game in Times Square in New York City.  (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Onakoya and Martinez were permitted to take a five-minute break for each hour of chess they played. 

These breaks “were sometimes grouped together,” said the Associated Press, and Onakoya was cheered on by a crowd both online and in person throughout the record attempt. 

“The support has been overwhelming from Nigerians in the U.S., global leaders, celebrities and hundreds of passersby,” he told the AP.

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Among the people following Onakoya’s record attempt was former Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. 

Osinbajo posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) a reminder for Onakoya to “remember your own powerful words: ‘It is possible to do great things from a small place.'”

two hands playing chess in front of a clock

Onakoya and his opponent were only allowed a five-minute break for every hour of chess they played.  (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

With the record attempt, Onakoya hopes to raise $1 million for children’s education in Africa. 

He raised $22,000 the first day of his record attempt, said the Associated Press.

Expanding educational opportunities for poor children in Africa is one of Onakoya’s passions. 

He is founder of Chess in Slums Africa, an organization that teaches children who are living in extreme poverty how to play chess. 

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“As a result of using chess as a tool for socioeconomic transformation, we have succeeded in securing lifelong scholarships for over 200 children from indigent homes,” says the website for Chess in Slums Africa. 

At the 24-hour mark, Onakoya said his energy was “at 100% right now” due to the support of people who were following his attempt to set the record.

man playing chess

Onakoya is founder of Chess in Slums Africa, a nonprofit organization that teaches chess to children living in poverty.  (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

There are many Guinness World Records related to chess games, chess pieces and chess sets, says the organization’s website. 

The record for “largest chess piece” is currently held by a 20-foot-tall king piece located at the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, Missouri, said Guinness.

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On the other end of the size spectrum, the record for “smallest handmade chess set” belongs to Ara Davidi Ghazaryan of Los Angeles. 

Ghazarian, an artist, made an 8mm-by-8mm chess set to achieve the record on August 22, 2020. 

The individual pieces are 1mm to 2.4mm tall, said Guinness.

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And on Feb. 17, 1989, chess masters Ivan Nokolic and Goran Arsovic of what was then Yugoslavia played a 269-move game of chess, setting the record for “most moves in a chess game.” 

That game, said Guinness, took 20 hours and 15 minutes and ended in a draw. 

The Associated Press contributed reporting. 

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