I started playing chess when I was 12 years old. I started playing tournament Chess when I was 14


Oyelabi Jonathan is a Nigerian chess player on journey of becoming a Future Grandmaster. He was formerly the highest rated U-18 in the country and has won many awards, 2nd position at the national friends of chess (NFOC) U-16 2016, 1st position at the CPAN Chevron Chess Challenge (C4) U-16 2016, 1st position at the millionaire chess championship U-16 2016, Best junior at the CPAN chess league 2016, 2nd position at the OSFI board games 2017, 6th position at the African juniors (U-20) chess championship at Togo 2017, 1st position at the national grassroot sport festival 2018, Best junior at the president cup Ghana 2018, 1st position at the national friends of chess opens category 2018, 2nd position at the Asibor memorial Chess tournament U2000 category 2019.

Oyelabi is BMAN teen mentor for aspiring chess players, he shares chess adventure and his plan to be a Chess Grandmaster.

At what age did you start playing chess?

I started playing chess when I was 12 years old. I started playing tournament Chess when I was 14

Your greatest success as a chess player?

Defeating Nigeria’s number 1 in a league match

Have you ever been defeated and how did you respond to your defeat?

Defeat is inevitable. The world chess champion has been defeated so many times. I personally see defeat as a way of reminding me I still have a lot to learn. My goal is never defeated

What do you have to do to become a grandmaster?

I really have to work hard on my Chess, study more and always be willing to learn. I should also play as many tournaments as I can

Which chess players inspired you?

Former World champion Garry Kasparov. He was a very brilliant and creative player. Current World number 2 Fabiano Caruana. He is a very calm and patient Chess player. I think I play more of Caruana’s style of Chess

What is your goal for the future?

My major goal is to become a grandmaster. Proboably the first in West Africa

How many tournaments do you play in a year?

I play an average of 16 tournaments in a year

How much time do you dedicate to chess every day?

An average of 3 hours per day. For some days I spend up to 6 hours on Chess while some days I use just an hour and try to do something before the day runs out

You teach children chess at schools in Nigeria, If any of them would like to pursue chess in a serious manner, what would be your advice?

Learn the basics and understand it’s core, that is the path to true mastery of the game of chess

What are some of your most memorable experiences from the tournaments you played?

My most memorable experience was playing the highest rated player in Nigeria without knowing he was the highest rated and the game ended in a draw. I was just 15 then

Do you have other sports you enjoy playing or hobbies?

I enjoy playing table tennis

What is the funniest you ever did?

I think the funniest I have ever done is playing chess in my head in an exam Hall


  1. Ogunsiku Babatunde

    This is a really wonderful interview. Hopefully, he can get the necessary support to achieve his dreams of becoming a Grandmaster.

  2. Oyakhilome David

    Nice one Jonathan oyelabi.
    The future of Nigerian Chess,very wonderful interview.

  3. Olanrewaju Ajibola

    Way to go Jboy, wish you the best in your aspirations although I honestly feel you need to increase the hours you devote to training each day.

  4. Abdussalam

    Nice one Jonathan

  5. Temidire

    We pray you fly as high as you wish

  6. Jamiu Oamen

    I am actually impressed because I never doubted you. I am happy I actually defeated you once 😂. Hoping to face you again.

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