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A Nigerian chess champion plays the royal game for 60 hours — a new global chess record

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A Nigerian chess champion plays the royal game for 60 hours — a new global chess record
News

News

A Nigerian chess champion plays the royal game for 60 hours — a new global chess record

2024-04-21 02:56 Last Updated At:03:00

NEW YORK (AP) — A Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate played chess nonstop for 60 hours in New York City’s Times Square to break the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon.

Tunde Onakoya, 29, hopes to raise $1 million for children's education across Africa through the record attempt that began on Wednesday.

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Tunde Onakoya, right, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

NEW YORK (AP) — A Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate played chess nonstop for 60 hours in New York City’s Times Square to break the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon.

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, center, Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, center, Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, poses on the street in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024. A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, poses on the street in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024. A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, play a chess game in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024. A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, play a chess game in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024. A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, left, play a chess game in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024.A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, left, play a chess game in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024.A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

He had set out to play the royal game for 58 hours but continued until he reached 60 hours at about 12:40 a.m. Saturday, surpassing the current chess marathon record of 56 hours, 9 minutes and 37 seconds, achieved in 2018 by Norwegians Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad.

The Guinness World Record organization has yet to publicly comment about Onakoya’s attempt. It sometimes takes weeks for the organization to confirm any new record.

Onakoya played against Shawn Martinez, an American 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.

Support had been growing online and at the scene, where a blend of African music kept onlookers and supporters entertained amid cheers and applause. Among the dozens who cheered Onakoya on at the scene was Nigerian music star Davido.

The record attempt is “for the dreams of millions of children across Africa without access to education,” said Onakoya, who founded Chess in Slums Africa in 2018. The organization wants to support the education of at least 1 million children in slums across the continent.

“My energy is at 100% right now because my people are here supporting me with music,” Onakoya said Thursday evening after the players crossed the 24-hour mark.

On Onakoya's menu: Lots of water and jollof rice, one of West Africa’s best-known dishes.

For every hour of game played, Onakoya and his opponent got only five minutes' break. The breaks were sometimes grouped together, and Onakoya used them to catch up with Nigerians and New Yorkers cheering him on. He even joined in with their dancing sometimes.

A total of $22,000 was raised within the first 20 hours of the attempt, said Taiwo Adeyemi, Onakoya's manager.

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

Onakoya’s attempt was closely followed in Nigeria, where he regularly organizes chess competitions for young people living on the streets.

More than 10 million school-age children are not in school in the West African country — one of the world’s highest rates.

Among those who have publicly supported him are celebrities and public office holders, including Nigeria’s former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who wrote to Onakoya on the social media platform X, “Remember your own powerful words: 'It is possible to do great things from a small place.’"

This version corrects that Osinbajo is Nigeria's former vice president, not current vice president.

Asadu reported from Abuja, Nigeria.

Tunde Onakoya, right, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, right, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, center, Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, center, Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Tunde Onakoya, 29, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, plays a chess game in Times Square, Friday, April 19, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, poses on the street in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024. A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, poses on the street in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024. A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, play a chess game in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024. A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, play a chess game in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024. A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, left, play a chess game in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024.A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

In this screen grab taken from video, Tunde Onakoya, 29- years old, a Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate, left, play a chess game in Times Square, New York, Thursday, April, 18, 2024.A Nigerian chess player 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 and raise $1m for the education of children across Africa. (AP Video/John Minchillo)

DALLAS (AP) — Daniel Gafford remembers facing Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and company about two weeks before he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks this season.

That memory alone is enough for the 6-foot-10 center to know the challenge that's coming when the Western Conference finals start Wednesday night at the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Make that the towering Timberwolves, even for Gafford and 7-1 rookie Dereck Lively II.

“It was for sure a rough game, going against Rudy under the basket, KAT driving down the basket,” Gafford said of Washington's 118-107 loss in late January, when Towns scored 27 points and Gobert had 19 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.

“Just defending multiple areas at one time is just something that was challenging,” Gafford said. “But I feel like with the growth that I’ve had coming to this team, I feel like I’ve taken a step in the right direction.”

The headliners in pursuit of a spot in the NBA Finals are All-Stars Luka Doncic of Dallas and Anthony Edwards, who led the Timberwolves with 38 points on the night Gafford brought up.

The frontcourt will be a focus as well, though. That's partly because the Mavs have an inside presence they couldn't have imagined before the season with the emergence of Lively and the addition of Gafford.

The Mavericks beat top-seeded Oklahoma City in six games in the second round, in part because they kept 7-1 center Chet Holmgren from dominating the middle.

Dallas couldn't forget about Holmgren at the 3-point line, which won't be the case with the 7-1 Gobert. Instead, the Mavs will try to lure away from the rim a guy who was just named NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the fourth time.

In the first round two years ago, the Mavs neutralized Gobert in a six-game victory over the Utah Jazz. Dallas reached the West finals then as well, losing to eventual champ Golden State.

“It’s two different teams. And they’re playing two different defenses,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ll see if we can get him in different places on the floor. But 90% of the time, he’s by the rim. We’ve got figure out how to get him away from the rim to give our scorers a clean look at the basket.”

When the Mavericks traded for Gafford, it appeared he would back up Lively, the 12th overall pick in last year's draft. The fifth-year pro started his Dallas stint so strongly, he eventually took over as the starter.

But the Mavs are coming off a Game 6 victory in which Lively was so effective (plus-26 with 15 rebounds and 12 points) that he played the rest of the way in the one-point win after replacing Gafford (minus-25 with 10 points and seven rebounds) with 6:26 remaining in the third quarter.

Lively, who was limited to 55 games by injuries, was named to the NBA's All-Rookie second team Monday.

“I thought he did a great job of imitating Moses Malone,” Kidd said after Dallas' clinching victory over the Thunder. “It’s easy to say he should start, but he’s playing his role for us, and that’s coming off the bench and giving us energy and changing shots and finishing in the paint.”

The 7-foot Towns can score from anywhere for the third-seeded Wolves, while Gobert is much like Gafford and Lively in that his points most likely will come from pick-and-rolls, post-ups and put-backs.

Dallas also can't forget about the 6-9 pair of Jaden McDaniels and NBA Sixth Man of the Year Naz Reid, who help round out the league's No. 1 defense and bring some pop on offense.

“We don’t have a big three, we have a big 15,” Towns said while sitting next to Edwards after Minnesota rallied from 20 points down in the second half of a Game 7 victory that ousted the defending champion Denver Nuggets on their home court.

“Every single person means a lot to this team, and they help in so many ways,” Towns said. “This game shows it’s the Timberwolves, not Karl-Anthony Towns, not Rudy Gobert. The Timberwolves are a special team.”

It appears fifth-seeded Dallas will have to play without 6-10 center-forward Maxi Kleber, who separated a shoulder in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers. His threat at the 3-point line could have played a role in getting Gobert out of the paint. And the six extra fouls sure would help on defense.

“One thing for sure, we got to make sure we stay out of foul trouble,” Gafford said. “Really, just stay patient. We’re not going to keep them from scoring points, but staying to our tendencies and just sticking to our principles is something that’s going to help us throughout this series.”

Maybe the lessons from a rough night in January can help Gafford as well.

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, back right, blocks a shot by Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, back left, as Minnesota guard Anthony Edwards looks on in the second half of Game 7 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, back right, blocks a shot by Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, back left, as Minnesota guard Anthony Edwards looks on in the second half of Game 7 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns reacts after being called for a foul in the second half of Game 7 of an NBA second-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns reacts after being called for a foul in the second half of Game 7 of an NBA second-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets Sunday, May 19, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford (21) and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) compete for a rebound during the first half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Nate Billings)

Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford (21) and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) compete for a rebound during the first half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Nate Billings)

Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II, left, Oklahoma City Thunder's Jaylin Williams and Isaiah Joe (11) scramble to control the ball in the second hald of Game 6 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II, left, Oklahoma City Thunder's Jaylin Williams and Isaiah Joe (11) scramble to control the ball in the second hald of Game 6 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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