Eight years old Tanitoluwa Adewumi, won the top prize of his age category at the New York Chess Championship.
Tanitoluwa, whose family left for the United States of America in 2017 due to Boko Haram’s onslaught in his home in the north has been playing the game of chess for just over a year.
According to him, he loves the game because it is a “thinking game”.
Tanitoluwa, is currently living in a homeless shelter with his parents and elder brother.
His rating is now 1587 and rising fast. (By comparison, the world’s best player, Magnus Carlsen, stands at 2845.)
He has an aggressive style of play, and in the state tournament the coaches, watching from the sidelines, were shocked when he sacrificed a bishop for a lowly pawn. Alarmed, they fed the move into a computer and it agreed with Tani, recognizing that the gambit would improve his position several moves later.
“It’s an inspiring example of how life’s challenges do not define a person,” said Jane Hsu, the principal of P.S. 116, which held a pep rally to celebrate Tani’s victory. Hsu noted that while Tani lacks a home, he has enormously supportive parents dedicated to seeing him succeed.
Tanitoluwa’s mom can’t play chess but takes him every Saturday to a three-hour free practice session in Harlem, and she attends his tournaments. His dad lets Tani use his laptop each evening to practice. And although religion is extremely important to the family, the parents let Tani miss church when necessary to attend a tournament.
“Tani is rich beyond measure,” in the strength, love and support of his family, Makofsky said.