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Shawn Martinez: National Chess Master and Mentor 


Background and Early Chess Career:


Shawn Martinez, a National Chess Master of Puerto Rican descent, was born in Spanish Harlem and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His introduction to chess began in the sixth grade at I.S. 318, a middle school renowned for its exceptional chess program. The school's success in national chess competitions is well-documented in the acclaimed documentary "Brooklyn Castle." Martinez's natural talent for the game quickly became apparent as he won numerous city, state, and national titles during his time at Edward R. Murrow High School, another institution with a strong chess tradition.


Martinez's ascent in the chess world was marked by his participation in various high-level tournaments. By the age of 16, he was ranked among the top young players in the U.S., earning early recognition from his school’s chess coach. He competed on the National Championship Chess Team and earned the title of National Scholastic Chess Champion for the 6-11th grade division. His remarkable journey was featured in Michael Weinreb's book "Kings of New York," which details the achievements of Murrow High School's chess team. The New York Times also highlighted his story in an article titled "Teenage Riddle: Skipping Class, Mastering Chess," underscoring his transformation from a young prodigy to a respected coach.


Pushing Pawns: Empowering Youth Through Chess


Martinez is the founder of Pushing Pawns, a company dedicated to providing high-quality chess programs for youth. His approach to coaching emphasizes critical thinking, strategy, and personal growth through chess. Over the past decade, he has taught in various educational environments across New York City, including public and private schools, and has worked with students from early childhood to high school, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. His personalized and inclusive teaching methods have made chess accessible and enjoyable for all his students.


Mentoring Tanitoluwa Adewumi: A Remarkable Success Story


One of Martinez's most notable achievements as a coach is his work with Tanitoluwa Adewumi, an 8-year-old Nigerian chess prodigy. Adewumi, who was living in a Manhattan homeless shelter with his family, learned chess under Martinez's guidance and won the New York State chess championship for his age division within a year. This extraordinary accomplishment brought widespread attention to Adewumi and highlighted Martinez's exceptional coaching abilities. Their story was covered by major media outlets including CNN, NBC, CBS, and The New York Times, showcasing Adewumi’s inspiring journey and Martinez's impactful mentorship.


Martinez's mentorship of Adewumi is a testament to his ability to nurture and develop young talent. His dedication to his students extends beyond the chessboard, as he focuses on instilling life skills and values that help them succeed both in and out of the game. This success story underscores the transformative power of effective coaching and the profound impact it can have on a young person's life.


World Record Achievement: Longest Chess Marathon


In addition to his coaching successes, Martinez made headlines by co-setting the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon with Nigerian chess master Tunde Onakoya. They played for an astonishing 60 hours in Times Square, surpassing the previous record of 56 hours and 9 minutes. This event was not just about setting a record; it also raised over $100,000 to support children's education in Africa, demonstrating Martinez's commitment to using chess as a tool for positive change. The marathon received extensive coverage from major news outlets such as BBC, Associated Press, and Reuters.


Media Attention and Recognition


Martinez’s achievements have garnered significant media attention. The story of his collaboration with Tunde Onakoya to set a new Guinness World Record was widely covered by major media outlets. CNN, The New York Times, BBC, and the Associated Press provided extensive coverage of the event, highlighting their dedication and endurance. Martinez's work with Tanitoluwa Adewumi was also featured in prominent publications, bringing further recognition to his contributions as a coach. The live-streamed event drew considerable attention, showcasing their commitment and resilience.


Philosophy and Impact:


Shawn Martinez's brand as a chess player and coach is built on his dedication to mentorship, his innovative teaching methods, and his commitment to using chess as a tool for educational and personal development. His work continues to inspire and transform the lives of young chess players, proving that chess is more than just a game—it is a vehicle for learning, growth, and empowerment.


Martinez believes that chess is a universal game that transcends age, race, and background. His philosophy is that anyone, regardless of their circumstances, can learn and excel at chess with the right guidance and support. This inclusive approach has made him a beloved coach and mentor to many students, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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