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8-year-old Living In Homeless Shelter Won New York Chess Championship: ‘I Want To Be The Youngest Grandmaster’

Chess is one of the few indoor games that truly challenges the mind. Some of the most brilliant minds in human history have competed in the sport. In the year 2019, an eight-year-old dreamed to join the ranks of sports legends.


Even though that may appear to be a child’s fantasy, this child had a unique narrative to tell. He was a Nigerian refugee with an uncertain future ahead of him. Even back then, he aspired to be one of the best at Chess, his favorite game.

Tanitoluwa Adewumi, better known as Tani, started learning chess in 2018. His family had fled Northern Nigeria in 2017. Because they were Christians, they were frightened of being attacked by the terrorist group Boko Haram. In an interview with a New York Times columnist, Kayode Adewumi stated that he simply did not want to lose anyone he cared about.

Tanitoluwa Adewumi in 2019.


As a result, in 2018, they found themselves in New York City. The Adewumis were made up of their parents and two sons. Tani is their eldest child. They were directed to a homeless shelter by a clergyman. Tani was accepted into the local elementary school. A part-time school teacher worked at the school. Tani’s chess journey began right here.

Tani loved chess and persuaded his mother, Oluwatoyin, to let him join the chess club at school. Mrs. Adewumi informed the club of her son’s interest via e-mail. She did, however, inform them that she was unable to pay the program’s costs.

Tani’s expenses were kindly forgiven by Russell Makofsky, the head of the school’s chess program. Tani competed in his debut event a year later. His rating, however, was the lowest — 105.

The trainers at the competition were disturbed by his aggressive playing style. They later assessed his moves, and to their amazement, the computer said Tani’s moves were right.

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