Chess has always been a spectator game, it took a grand Exhibition to demonstrate that in Lagos Nigeria on the 11th of June. The exhibition match between the Guinness World Record holder, Tunde Onakoya, and Nigerian Woman National Champion, WCM Deborah Quickpen was a spectacle, the first time the game of chess commanded huge attention from none professional players in Nigeria was during the 60 hours Chess Marathon by Tunde Onakoya, and once again, we witnessed a large gathering of support from business tycoons such as Aare Dele Momodu, executives of various organizations such as Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Tunde Onakoya ESQ.(who is also a Board Chairman of Chess in slums Africa) and other distinguished personalities to cheer for Deborah Quickpen and Tunde Onakoya as they played.

Daniels Ford, a UK-based real estate company, hosted the event, which served as a platform to officially announce their partnership with WCM Deborah Quickpen as their brand ambassador. The event also aimed to raise awareness and support for Chess In Slum Africa.

In his welcome remark, The Vice President of the Nigeria Chess Federation, Prince Adeyinka Adewole acknowledged the presence of the dignitaries and appreciated Daniel Fords for their good support towards the growth of chess particularly how the beautiful exhibition contributes to the missions and visions of the Nigeria Chess Federation.

Mr Yemi Edun, CEO- of Daniel Ford addressed the audience. | Photo Credit: OTHIMS VISUALS

The Backstory of Tunde Onakoya Vs Deborah Quickpen.

The event’s backstory began in March when Orchid Lekki Chess Club President Kunle Kasumu introduced Deborah Quickpen to Daniel Ford’s CEO, Yemi Edun. Impressed by her talent, Edun sponsored her trip to the 2024 African Individual Chess Championship in Ghana, where she finished fourth with 6 points out of 9 and gained a remarkable 38-point Elo rating.

The CEO of Daniel Ford then decided to take the support for the prodigy further by putting up the exhibition match to announce her endorsement as the company’s ambassador. But this is just the beginning of a great journey for Deborah Quickpen.


The Event Highlight

Tunde Onakoya took the stage to appreciate the audience present, also commending the host for the great initiative and event well set up; “ upon arriving and seeing the ambiance, the presence of the Press and the setup of the event area, I realized, yes! this is a testament that professional chess is now in the right trajectory and the investments of chess promoters all years back are beginning to pay off” says Tunde Onakoya. 

Just before Tunde dropped the mic, he shared more good news about the developments for Deborah Quickpen. He shared that since the pre-event promotion of the exhibition match, he has gotten contacts from several interested parties willing to support Deborah Quickpen’s career. To quote Tunde’s speech,

“GM Maurice Ashley (The world’s first black Grandmaster) reached out to me and is ready to support Deborah’s development. Also, my friend, Lemuel Life LaRoche, the Executive Director of the Chess and Community, Atlanta Georgia extend an invitation to Deborah Quickpen as a special guest at their festival come 2025. 

This is the beginning of something great for Deborah. And, Deborah is amazing, but there are many other kids that are equally exceptional, the reason basketball took off in America is because of the likes of Michael Jordan” not because of the sport itself but because of their stars, when we put the spotlight on our stars, the world will see them. Thank you very much and, let the games begin!”

Meanwhile, as the Nigeria Woman National Champion, Deborah will be representing her country, playing at the FIDE Chess World Cup 2024 (The 3rd Biggest Chess Event in the world after the World Championship and the Candidates Tournament).

Also, The Nigeria Chess Federation Vice President confirmed that Deborah Quickpen gets an automatic wildcard on the team to play at the Chess Olympiad, Budapest 2025.

The Games Begin!

Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa Flagged off the match.

The event featured two exciting chess variants: Rapid and Blitz games. In Rapid chess, each player has a minimum of 10 minutes on their timer, while Blitz chess is a high-speed game with a minimum of 3 minutes per player.

The exhibition match consisted of four Rapid games with a time control of 10 minutes + 5 seconds added per move, and four Blitz games with a time control of 3 minutes + 2 seconds added per move.

Deborah got the white pieces in round 1 of the Rapid segment and she opened with the English Opening; a style known to be her former coach and manager’s specialty. Deborah played the opening moves very accurately, even tried a couple of opening gambit and traps but, it was only a matter of time before she made a few inaccuracies and Tunde Onakoya took the initiative and drove the game home eventually.

However, in the second round, Tunde got outplayed after he lost grip of a completely winning game with the inaccurate 38. Qe8?! Which led to Deborah delivering a beautiful checkmate with the white king on e3?! The rapid event ended 3 – 1 in favor of Tunde Onakoya

After a brief interlude, the Blitz segment commenced, with the first game featuring the King’s Indian Defense, a signature opening of Tunde’s. He swiftly secured the first Blitz game, extending his lead in the match. However, Deborah Quickpen refused to yield, displaying unwavering determination and resilience. She proceeded to win three consecutive Blitz games, leveling the score at 4-4 and stunning the audience with her remarkable comeback.

With Deborah Quickpen’s talent and dedication, she is poised to become a global chess superstar, inspiring a new generation of players. The future of chess in Nigeria looks bright, and this event will be remembered as a pivotal moment in its development.


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