8-Year-Old’s Amazing Chess Story

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8-Year-Old’s Amazing Chess Story

Denise Najera, Sports Recorder

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An eight-year-old little boy has won it all. Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a Nigerian refugee, is this year’s New York State Chess Championship winner, but that’s just half of what makes his story truly amazing.

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Adewumi currently lives in a homeless shelter in Manhattan.  Tani’s family fled northern Nigeria in 2017, fearing attacks by Boko Haram terrorists on Christians such as themselves. “I don’t want to lose any loved ones,” his father, Kayode Adewumi said. So he decided to move his family to New York a little over a year ago where a pastor helped them move into a homeless shelter.

Tani started to attend the elementary school nearby, and there is where it all began. The class had a part-time chess teacher who taught the class how to play. The eight-year-old enjoyed the game so much, he went home and asked his mom, Oluwatoyin Adewumi, if he could join the school’s Chess Club. Mrs. Adewumi was not able to pay the fees for the program, but it ended up not being a problem. Russell Makofsky, who oversees the P.S. 116 chess program, waived the fees, and a year ago the boy took part in his first tournament with the lowest rating of any participant, 105.

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His rating is now 1587 and rising fast. (By comparison, the world’s best player, Magnus Carlsen, stands at 2845.)

What’s amazing about this little boy is that he had only been playing for a year and already is winning championships in his category of kindergarten to third grade; being undefeated at the state tournament last weekend, outwitting children from elite private schools with private chess tutors. “I want to be the youngest grand master,” Tanitoluwa says.

Tani’s impressive accomplishment even got the attention of former president Bill Clinton, who invited him to his offices in Harlem. “Tanitoluwa, you exemplify a winning spirit – in chess and in life,” Clinton wrote on Twitter. “And kudos to your hardworking parents.”

Later on a GoFundMe was made for Tani’s family which raised more than $246,000. 4,795 people had donated in only 10 days! Now, his family has a place to call his home. “I have a home!” Tani shouted. “I have a home!”

Tani is preparing for the elementary national championship in May, and is as ready as ever.

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