A 10-year-old who once lived in a homeless shelter in New York City earned a remarkable title for someone his age: chess master.
Tanitoluwa “Tani” Adewumi became America’s new chess master on May 1 at the age of 10 years, seven months and 28 days, making him the 28th youngest person to achieve this status, according to the American Federation of Chess. chess.
“I was very happy to have won and got the title,” Tani, a Nigerian refugee, told NPR. “I really like that I finally got it.”
On his way to masterful status, Tani had to defeat two experts, a master and an international master, the Chess Federation said.
He told NPR that he practiced chess for 10 or 11 hours every day after school to reach that level.
Tani made national headlines in 2019 while living in a homeless shelter and won the New York State Chess Championship for his age group.
Tani’s family left northern Nigeria in 2017 as a refugee and moved to New York City, The New York Times reported. While her family lived in a homeless shelter, Tani learned to play chess at school.
When his family was unable to afford the membership fee for the school’s chess program, chess teacher Russell Makofsky waived the fee. Tani won the Kindergarten to Grade 3 state championship in 2019.
“This is unheard of for any child, let alone a child in a homeless shelter,” Mafosky told USA TODAY at the time.
Others have also offered to help, The New York Times reported. A student gave Tani a chess clock. His mother took him to free practice sessions in Harlem, and his father offered Tani his laptop to play chess online.
Since then, a GoFundMe set up by her father, Kayode, has raised nearly $ 255,000 for Tani’s housing, legal and educational resources.
Now a Grandmaster trainer teaches Tani two or three times a week, according to a May 10 update on the GoFundMe page. But travel costs are always a challenge, and when Tani is invited to tournaments abroad, he often can’t go “while his immigration file is pending for fear of not being allowed to return.” in the USA”.
But his love of chess is “as strong as ever,” the page said.
“Tani’s talent continued to flourish through hard work,” said the American Chess Federation.
Tani has also since become an author.
His book, “My Name Is Tani … and I Believe in Miracles: The Amazing True Story of One Boy’s Journey from Refugee to Chess Champion,” tells the story of his family who fled Boko Haram and came to the United States. United, where his father became a dishwasher and the Uber driver and mother cleaned the buildings, according to the book’s summary.
“Eight-year-old Tani jumped into her new life with courage and persistence – and an unusual mind for chess,” the book says. “After joining his public school’s chess club, Tani practiced his game for hours at night at the shelter. And less than a year after learning to play, Tani won the chess championship of the New York State. “
But Tani hasn’t finished yet. He decided to become the youngest grandmaster. According to the International Chess Federation, he has two years to achieve this: Sergey Karjakin, the current record holder, reached this status at 12 years and 7 months.
On her GoFundMe page, people left messages thanking Tani for inspiring them and encouraging her to continue to rise in the world of chess.
“Tani’s story touched so many people, inspired us to be better, to love more, to try harder, and tap into the good that exists in each of us,” the GoFundMe page said.
Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.