Tanitoluwa Adewumi: The eight-year-old Nigerian who won a state chess championship in US

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Tanitoluwa Adewumi, second son in the Adewumi family is a rising chess star in the United States. In 2019 he won the New York State Championship in his age category. For him, this is just the beginning of a better life away from the danger he’s left behind.

Tani left his home in northern Nigeria with his family in 2017, because of the ongoing attacks by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

He moved with his family to the United States, stayed in a homeless shelter with his mother Oluwatoyin, father Kayode and older brother, Austin.

Despite the challenges, when Tanitoluwa showed an interest in playing chess, his mother made sure that he could attend the local club.

‘His interest in chess really started in 2018 when he got admission to the school. There was a day they had a chess club session, I think it was every Thursday. So I think it was the way he played and the class teacher sent me a note about him and his abilities.’

There was an opportunity to help Tani get better at his chess game, but Oluwatoyin could not afford it then.

‘So I sent an email to them saying yes but they’d have to help because we used to live in a shelter at the time.’

The chess coach stepped in and helped Oluwatoyin out. A scholarship was given to Tani to learn and play chess in the club.

‘I really like chess because of how you play it. I want to be the youngest grandmaster in the world and to break the world chess records.’

‘I practised for long hours to make sure I went far in the State Championships,’ Tani said.

His mother, Oluwatoyin never thought Tani’s abilities would bring the family this far.

‘I never knew chess would lead us here. Tani may think he is intelligent and brave but I do not know anything about chess. So I really didn’t think we will get here.’

Everything for this family has been a miracle.

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