Meet 8-year-Old Nigerian Refugee In US; Crowned New York State Chess Champion

Meet 8-year-Old Nigerian Refugee In US; Crowned New York State Chess Champion

Eight-year-old Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a Nigerian refugee in US and chess player, has said that he wants to be the youngest Grandmaster, after winning the chess champion for kindergarten through third grade at the New York state chess championship.

Adewumi’s family fled northern Nigeria in 2017, fearing attacks by Boko Haram terrorists on Christians such as themselves. “I don’t want to lose any loved ones,” his father, Kayode Adewumi, told me.


So Adewumi, his parents and his older brother arrived in New York City a bit more than a year ago, and a pastor helped steer them to a homeless shelter. Tani began attending the local elementary school, P.S. 116, which has a part-time chess teacher who taught Adewumi’s class how to play.

Adewumi really enjoyed playing chess and asked his parent if he could join the chess club. Of which he did, though his parent could not afford the fees as the family was living in a shelter, Russell Makofsky, who oversees the P.S. 116 chess program, waived the fees, and a year ago the Adewumi took part in his first tournament with the lowest rating of any participant, 105.

But today his rating is now 1587 and rising fast. (By comparison, the world’s best player, Magnus Carlsen, stands at 2845.)

Adewumi went undefeated at the state tournament last weekend, outwitting children from elite private schools with private chess tutors.

“I want to be the youngest grandmaster,” he said

What’s even more extraordinary is that Adewumi learned chess only a bit more than a year ago. His play has flabbergasted so many personalities, and he now has seven trophies by his bed in the homeless shelter.

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