Children sit under a canopy as they play during a chess class at Ogolonto in Ikorodu district of Lagos on August 17, 2019. In front of chess boards in Lagos, children are busy, concentrating. AFP / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI
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Crowds of children bustle around chessboards in Nigeria's Lagos, figuring out their next moves as part of a project that aims to bring hope in one of the city's impoverished slums. Dozens of matches are played simultaneously as participants as young as 3 master a game often considered out of reach for the masses in Africa's most populous country. Seasoned player Onakoya started the Chess in Slums project last September in the sprawling neighborhood of Ikorodu, a place where residents often feel cut off from the bustle and business of the vibrant megacity around it.The youngest children sing rhymes about chess to help them master the rules, as the older ones settle down into intense games.The West African nation ranks 88th out of 186 countries, according to the FIDE World Chess Federation's rating of top players across the globe, but still does not have any grandmasters.Onakoya says that chess has lagged behind in part due to an image problem.Ten-year-old Odunayo Olukoya joined Chess in Slums in January. Four months later, she came first in the national chess championship for her age group.
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