News Release

National Chess Tourney: LDS Youth, Practiced, Prayed, Won Gold

Instead of swelling with pride when he won first place in the under-14 category of the 2010 Nigeria National Chess tournament, 13-year-old Olalemi Adekunle was filled with gratitude to his Heavenly Father, parents and church leaders, who had taught him the importance of hard work and prayer.

‘Lemy,’ as he is called by his friends, is a deacon in the Odju congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lagos. He started playing chess at age seven and later became a member of the chess team at his school, Chrisland College. Along the way, Lemy says, he learned to blend his studies, his love for chess, and efforts to live the principles of his religion.

Of the three competition categories, U-12, U-14, and U-16, it was U-14 that proved to be the most challenging. In the group in which he played during the early elimination rounds, the other boys appeared to be better than he.

But, Lemy said, he prayed before each of the first six games, and won them all easily. “I was so happy with my unbeaten record [we got to] the 7th game. I was carried away in the joy and forgot to pray. I lost this game in 2 minutes—a game that was meant to last for one hour!”

At that point he remembered a favourite scripture in Proverbs 3:5-7 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him not wise in thine own eyes...”  Lemy said that at that point he asked for forgiveness and called upon the Lord for help. He won the 8th eighth game.

The final game of the tournament was to last 10 minutes. Knowing that he had a very formidable opponent, Lemy said that he “played with much faith looking to Heavenly Father, . . . and within 3 minutes, I saw a move and I felt and had a strong feeling to go for it. I did and checkmated my opponent. I won.  I was very, very happy for following the feeling I had after praying.”

The newly crowned best U-14 chess player in Nigeria said afterwards, “I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for helping me. My testimony about prayer has increased today, because I have found out that when we call on the Lord for help, . . . He will answer.” 

Lemy’s victory made his school the best school in U-14 competition in Nigeria. He also won a Silver medal in the Lagos State Inter-School Chess Tournament.

Lemy’s father, who like other members of the Church serves voluntarily in leadership and other roles in his congregation, said he was proud of his son for remembering to live the teachings of the Church in all parts of his life.

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