Tanitoluwa Adewumi, better known by his nickname “Tani,” is just 10 years old, but he has already achieved the status of official Chess National Master, with a ranking of 2223.
Tani was only introduced to the game of chess a few years ago, while staying with his family in a homeless shelter. He is the 28th-youngest person ever to earn such a title in the United States.
Tani, his parents, and his brother were forced to leave Nigeria in 2017 to avoid violent attacks on Christian families like theirs. They took up residence in a Manhattan shelter.
Tani began attending a nearby elementary school with the aid of a local priest. Tani was quickly attracted to the game after one of his professors, Russell Makofsky, taught his class how to play chess.
The teacher also led a chess club at the school, which was fortunate. Makofsky waived the programme fees and invited Tani into the club because she couldn’t afford to pay them.
He earned the lowest score of any student in his first chess tournament. Tani won the state championship trophy this week, just one year later, after defeating 73 of New York’s top players in grades K–3.
Tani is unquestionably a prodigy: he is the first athlete to win a state championship on his first try, with a rating of 1,587 and closing, nearly half that of the world’s best player.
For a time, the 10-year-old slept on the floor of his homeless shelter every night, practising chess in preparation for the national championship in May and dreaming of becoming the world’s youngest Grandmaster.