Tanitoluwa Adewumi, an 8-year-old Nigerian has gradually continued to conquer ‘the world of chess’ in the United States; barely over a year that he started learning the game.
The story of Tanitoluwa came to limelight when a New York Times’ columnist, Nicholas Kristof, wrote greatly about his dexterity in the game of chess. Although reports showed that young chap’s family left Nigeria for the US due to the rising insurgency caused by the Boko Haram.
According to the columnist, Tanitoluwa has gone undefeated at the state tournament over a weekend, outsmarting participant children from elite private schools with private chess tutors. In fact, Tani who prides his chess skills with seven trophies has also won a category at the New York State chess championship.
Meanwhile, the rising star lives with his family homelessly in Manhattan, New York. “The boy is a Nigerian refugee with an uncertain future, but he is beaming. He can’t stop grinning because the awkward load is a huge trophy, almost as big as he is. This homeless third grader has just won his category at the New York State chess championship,” Kristof wrote; adding that “His play has skyrocketed month by month, and he now has seven trophies by his bed in the homeless shelter.”
After relocating to the US over a year ago, Tanitoluwa started attending P.S. 116, the local elementary school. Having noticed his fervid interest in learning the game of chess and his being in financial strait, Russell Makofsky, who oversees the school’s chess programme decided to waive the fees; a decision which has stimulated his gradual rise to stardom in the game.
Celebrating the rising star, the school principal, Jane Hsu, organised a pep rally in honour of the boy’s victory; noting that while Tani lacks a home, he has enormously supportive parents dedicated to seeing him succeed. “It’s an inspiring example of how life’s challenges do not define a person,” Jane said.
Tani’s mum has just passed a course to become a home health aide; while his dad works by renting a car that he uses to drive for Uber and also as a licensed real estate salesman. Yet, their status in the state has not hindered their resolve to ensure their kid gets the best in what he pursues with determination and dedication.
Commenting about his determination to excel, Tani’s school chess teacher, Shawn Martinez, said, “He is so driven. He does 10 times more chess puzzles than the average kid. He just wants to be better.”
Tani’s rating has gradually soared, now 1587; which could be compared to the world’s best player, Magnus Carlsen’s 2845. Wondering about his talent, Makofsky shook his head, saying: “One year to get to this level, to climb a mountain and be the best of the best, without family resources? I’ve never seen it.” This signals his ability to be a world champion should he continue to up his skills and win more trophies. More so, the parental supports enjoyed by the rising star would be a catalyst to his steady rise to global status.