10-Year-Old Tanitoluwa Adewumi Is America's Newest Chess Master

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Tanitoluwa "Tani" Adewumi dreams of becoming the world's youngest-ever grandmaster (Credit: tanitoluwaadewumifoundation.org)

Since being introduced to chess at the tender age of six, Tanitoluwa "Tani" Adewumi has had one goal. He wants to become the world's youngest-ever Grandmaster — the highest title a chess player can achieve. The record is currently held by Russian chess player Sergey Alexandrovich Karjakin, who qualified for the title in 2002 at the age of 12 years and seven months.

On May 1, 2021, the now 10-year-old Tani came one step closer to achieving his dream by becoming the United State's newest national chess master. The title, awarded by the United States Chess Federation (USCF), requires players to obtain a rating of between 2200 to 2400. Tani achieved a rating of 2223 by defeating two chess experts, a master, and an international master, at the Fairfield County Chess Club Championship tournament held in Connecticut. The chess prodigy, who practices for up to 11 hours every day after school, says the secret to his success is thinking of his plays ahead of time. Tani told NPR, "On a normal position, I can do up to 20 moves [in advance]."

The now fifth-grader fell in love with chess in 2017 after being exposed to the basics by a part-time teacher at his elementary school in Manhattan, New York. However, his mother, Oluwatoyin, was reluctant to allow him to join the school's chess club due to the travel and chess competition costs. The family of four, who had fled Nigeria to avoid persecution from the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, were living in a homeless shelter and did not have extra funds to spare.

When Oluwatoyin explained the family's situation to the chess club's instructor, Russell Makofsky, he instantly waived all costs for the young boy. Tani did not disappoint. Less than a year after joining the club, he had garnered seven trophies and was ranked # 27 in his age category. In 2019, the then eight-year-old, who was still living in a homeless shelter, made national headlines when he defeated 73 competitors to win the New York State Scholastic Chess K-3 Championship. His incredible story went viral and a GoFundMe campaign, set up by Makofsky, helped raise enough funds for Tani and his family to move into a permanent home.

Tani's astounding path from refugee to chess champion was documented in a 2020 autobiography entitled My Name Is Tani . . . And I Believe In Miracles. The book is currently being adapted for the big screen by American author and comedian Trevor Noah. We wonder if Tani will get to play himself in the movie!

Resources: Npr.com, CNN.com, Wikipedia.org

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99 Comments
  • arianne_wonder
    arianne_wonderFriday, June 11, 2021 at 11:34 am
    wow
    • sweaterweather0
      sweaterweather0Friday, June 11, 2021 at 10:00 am
      That is AMAZING! Like if you agree 👍
      • darron
        darronFriday, June 11, 2021 at 9:40 am
        you are cool man
        • chason
          chasonFriday, June 11, 2021 at 9:11 am
          that is cool bro i hope you be a king at it
          • magicmango
            magicmangoTuesday, June 15, 2021 at 7:26 am
            Ohhhh lol. But so true.
            • bigbookworm
              bigbookwormTuesday, June 15, 2021 at 4:40 am
              lol
              • bookworm9999
                bookworm9999Saturday, June 12, 2021 at 4:36 pm
                haha get it
              • exotic_fnaf
                exotic_fnafFriday, June 11, 2021 at 8:38 am
                so true he must be so smart inside of his brain to be so good
                • sg123
                  sg123Friday, June 11, 2021 at 7:40 am
                  I can't believe a child so young can achieve something this big! He definitely has a passion and dedication that relates to his hard work. I also love playing chess with my friends!♟
                  • howls
                    howlsMonday, June 14, 2021 at 5:42 am
                    Hold on way is a kid achieveing this so surprising kids are awesome we can do anything we want if we work hard;-) :-) :-) :-)
                    • bookworm9999
                      bookworm9999Saturday, June 12, 2021 at 4:36 pm
                      Same!
                  • mayisfame
                    mayisfameFriday, June 11, 2021 at 7:27 am
                    I really appreciate the way he had worked so hard to achieve his dream goals and never give up. Good Job Tanitoluwa Adewumi! :D
                    • chason
                      chasonFriday, June 11, 2021 at 9:09 am
                      that is so cool i hope you be a master at it when you are older good luck
                    • summarsplatypus
                      summarsplatypusFriday, June 11, 2021 at 6:11 am
                      How talented and hard-working!
                      • dorischou
                        dorischouFriday, June 11, 2021 at 6:51 pm
                        your right!!(we have similar avatars ha ha~~~😀😀)
                      • aidenguffey
                        aidenguffeyFriday, June 11, 2021 at 6:00 am
                        Nice job.
                        • aidenguffey
                          aidenguffeyFriday, June 11, 2021 at 6:00 am
                          I'm impressed.😮😮