• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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BusinessDay

Who is Shawn Martinez, chess coach and Onakoya’s world record partner?

shawn martinez

Shawn Martinez is a national chess master and a professional chess coach. He is currently ranked in the top 100 of 5000 players in New York.

He teamed up with Tunde Onakoya, a Nigerian chess master and fellow national champion, to break the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon previously set at 56 hours and nine minutes.

Together they successfully set a new world record of 60 hours.
The event took place in New York City’s iconic Times Square and raised over $100,000 to empower more children across Africa through education and chess.

A young chess prodigy

Martinez started playing chess in the 6th grade at a middle school in New York City, known for its successful chess team championships.

As a player of Puerto Rican descent, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, chess took him beyond the comforts, confines, and challenges of home.

Martinez had a rough childhood, having been taken away from his birth mother when he was one week old due to addiction, and losing his father at 2 years old.

He was adopted by Lidia Martinez, a widow who sponsored him through school.

Martinez began winning games against friends and street competitors including Wall Street investors who challenged him to games.

His talent quickly made him a young prodigy, claiming a place among the top young players in the US by age 16, gaining him early recognition by his school’s chess coach.

The New York Times called him the “teenage riddle” because he was mastering chess but struggling academically.

At Murrow High School, Martinez ranked number 19 among 16-year-old players, and competed on The National Championship Chess Team, earning the title of National Scholastic Chess Champion of the 6-11th grade division.

He earned his G.E.D. diploma a year before his former classmates and enrolled in the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

“I never studied a book in my life,” Martinez told the New York Times.

Shawn said he learned chess by playing with others, including opponents online. He is known for his ability to control his games with the pawn as an attacker.

Coaching chess

“You don’t have to be the brightest person in the world to play chess,” Martinez told the New York Times.

When it was time for Martinez to pick a career, he stuck with chess and became a chess coach

For the past decade, Shawn has been teaching chess all throughout New York City in various learning environments, specialising in working with students from early childhood to High School, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Chess doesn’t close doors on people. It’s not a game of age, race, height. The game is about how much you apply yourself. Whether you’re three or 83, you always have a chance to learn,” he told a local news magazine.

Some of his former teaching positions were held at Success Academy, Trinity Private School, P.S 166 and P.S. 75.

In 2011, at Excellence Boys Charter School, he led the school’s Chess team to achieve second place in New York City.

In the following year, he began his chess coaching business.

One of his most successful students was Tanitoluwa Adewumi, an 8-year-old Nigerian chess prodigy who went from a novice to a chess champion in one year.

Adewumi, an elementary school student garnered attention in the US after winning the New York State chess champion title for his age division, while living in and out of a Manhattan homeless shelter.

Martinez currently holds the world record for the longest chess marathon alongside Onakoya who he played with for 3 days.

Martinez’s efforts extends beyond the board, as he continues to mentor and nurture young talent in the chess community.