Eight year old Nigerian refugee becomes a chess champ in New York

Eight-year-old Nigerian boy by the name of Tani Adewumi has caught the attention of the world.

Tani whose full name is Tanitoluwa has just won his seventh trophy in just over one year of playing chess at the New York State chess championship. He is the newly crowned chess champion for kindergarten through third grade.

Even with his recent affinity with a chess board, his play has skyrocketed month by month, and he now has seven trophies by his bed in the homeless shelter. He told the New York Times that he wants to be the youngest grandmaster.

New York Times reported that apart from being a chess prodigy, Tani is also homeless. He is a third grader and he lives in a homeless shelter in Manhattan, New York. His family’s request for asylum continues to drag with another hearing slated for August, but Tani says, “I feel American.”

According to the report, his dad, Kayode Adewumi rents a car to drive and has also passed an exam to be a real estate salesman while his mother, Oluwatoyin Adewumihas also passed an exam to be a home aide.

Tani’s family fled northern Nigeria in 2017, from the threat of Boko Haram’s brute force, raiding, pillaging, killing and kidnapping. His father, Kayode Adewumi, made the decision to move his family. Of the over 300,000 deaths from terrorism in 2014, Nigeria ranked second after Iraq with 23.0%. Thus, it is not beyond belief to understand why Nigerians are running overseas.

New York Times reports that “Tani, his parents, and his older brother arrived in New York City a bit more than a year ago, and a pastor helped steer them to a homeless shelter. Tani began attending the local elementary school, which has a part-time chess teacher who taught Tani’s class how to play.”

After asking his mother, Oluwatoyin Adewumi, Tani has since joined the Chess Club after his mother emailed the club to tell the teacher that Tani is “interested in the chess program, which he will like to be participating in,” but she could not afford the fees. Russell Makofsky, in charge of the P.S. 116 chess program, waived the fees.

A year later, Tani’s rating is now 1587 and rising fast. A year ago, he had the lowest rating of any participant, 105. The world’s best chess player, Magnus Carlsen, stands at 2845.

Tani now prepares for the Elementary National Championship in May. His chess program overseer, Russell Makofsky has also started a Gofundme account from his family that has garnered about $87,230.

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