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Eight-Year-Old Wins New York Chess Championship

Written by on March 21, 2019

Eight-year-old Tanitoluwa Adewumi becomes the newest winner for the New York State chess championship for his age bracket.

Tani, as he likes to be called, is a refugee from Nigeria and has been homeless for over a year. He and his family moved from northern Nigeria after fearing persecution of Christians in 2017, and have been living in a homeless shelter ever since. 

The 8-year-old only began to learn the game in 2017 and, after he excelled in such a small amount of time, he caught the eye of Shawn Martinez, the school chess coach. Martinez urged Tani’s parents to allow him to join the chess team and even waived the team fees after learning they could not afford to pay them.

Adewumi works very hard at his craft. His mother takes him to free three-hour practice sessions in Harlem and his dad lets him use a laptop to play chess online. His chess coach believes Tani can reach master status in less than two years!

Tani agrees, telling the New York Times, “I want to be the youngest grandmaster.” Currently, the world’s youngest grandmaster qualified at the age of 12, and, with seven trophies under his belt, Tani is well on his way!

As the story of Adewumi’s victory gains national attention, many are reaching out to help the family. There has been a GoFundMe started, as well as offers on a car, legal services, jobs and even housing.

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