Nigerian Chess Champion Plays Royal Game for 58 Hours, Sets New Global Record

 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)
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)
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Nigerian Chess Champion Plays Royal Game for 58 Hours, Sets New Global Record

 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)
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)

A Nigerian chess champion and child education advocate has played chess nonstop for 58 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.

He crossed the 58-hour mark at about 02:30 a.m. GMT Saturday, surpassing the current chess marathon record of 56 hours, 9 minutes and 37 seconds, achieved in 2018 by Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad, both from Norway.

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.

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 US, 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 children are out of 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.’"



Hollywood Movies Rarely Reflect Climate Change Crisis. These Researchers Want to Change That

This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)
This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)
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Hollywood Movies Rarely Reflect Climate Change Crisis. These Researchers Want to Change That

This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)
This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)

Aquaman might not mind if the oceans rise, but moviegoers might.

That's one of the takeaways from a new study conducted by researchers who set out to determine if today's Hollywood blockbusters are reflective of the current climate crisis. The vast majority of movies failed the “climate reality check” proposed by the authors, who surveyed 250 movies from 2013 to 2022.

The test is simple — the authors looked to see if a movie presented a story in which climate change exists, and whether a character knows it does. One film that passed the test was the 2017 superhero movie Justice League, in which Jason Momoa's Aquaman character says, “Hey, I don't mind if the oceans rise” to Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne, The AP reported.

But most movies fell short — fewer than 10% of the 250 films passed, and climate change was mentioned in two or more scenes of fewer than 4% of the films. That's out of touch with a moviegoing public that wants “to see their reality reflected on screen,” said Colby College English professor Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, lead researcher on the study.

“The top line is just that the vast majority of films, popular films produced over the last 10 years in the United States, are not portraying the world as it is,” Schneider-Mayerson said. “They are portraying a world that is now history or fantasy — a world in which climate change is not happening.”

Researchers at Maine's Colby College published the study in April along with Good Energy, a Los Angeles-based environmental consultancy. The results were peer reviewed, and the authors are seeking publication in scientific journals. The researchers view the test as a way for audience members, writers and filmmakers to evaluate the representation of climate change on screen.

Some results were surprising. Movies that at first glance appear to have little overlap with climate or the environment passed the test. Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach's emotive 2019 drama about the collapse of a relationship, passed the test in part because Adam Driver's character is described as “energy conscious,” Schneider-Mayerson said.

The 2022 whodunnit Glass Onion and the 2019 folk horror movie Midsommar were others to pass the test. Some that were more explicitly about climate change, such as the 2021 satire Don't Look Up, also passed. But San Andreas, a 2015 movie about a West Coast earthquake disaster, and The Meg, a 2018 action movie set in the ocean, did not.

The authors narrowed the selection of movies by excluding films not set on Earth or set before 2006 or after 2100. They found streaming services had a higher percentage of movies that included climate change than the major studios did.

The study is “valuable for marketing purposes, informational purposes, data accumulation,” said Harry Winer, director of sustainability at the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Winer, who was not involved in the study, said it could also help serve as an incentive to connect audiences with climate stories.

“The audience will be more open to hearing a dialogue about what is right and what is wrong,” Winer said. “It's a conversation starter.”

The study authors said they see the climate reality check as a kind of Bechdel-Wallace test for climate change. Alison Bechdel, a cartoonist, is credited with popularizing that test in the 1980s by incorporating her friend Liz Wallace's test about gender representation in film into a comic strip. The test asks if a movie includes at least two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man.

Bechdel herself spoke highly of the study's climate test, which she described as “long overdue” in a social media post during this year's Academy Awards season. Bechdel said in an e-mail to The AP that “for a movie set in the present to ignore this existential threat just doesn't make sense anymore" in the age of climate change.

“I do worry that screenwriters might do it in a kind of rote way, which could be counterproductive, just like rote ‘strong female characters’ are," Bechdel said. "But injecting an awareness of our communal plight into the stories we ingest seems like a no-brainer.”