For Tanitoluwa Adewumi being a chess grandmaster at the age of eight is a realistic goal. The young Nigerian is a big dreamer and has set his eyes on the prize. Twelve months shy of being introduced to the game of chess, he is already a kindergarten-to-third-grade division champion, having participated in the New York State Championship.
In chatting with a journalist, Tani as he is fondly called said “I want to be the youngest grandmaster.”
Along with his family, Tani fled the northern region of Nigeria devastated by Boko Haram insurgents and arrived the U.S. seeking asylum. Both parents, in dire straits concerning their housing arrangements, solicited help from the public through a GoFundMe page. In approximately four days, US$183 907 was raised.
Tani chatting with a journalist, said that he played chess for three hours after dinner and is fully focused on breaking the existing world record. He got a waiver to attend Chess classes at school at his mother’s request. Interestingly, he’s much better at chess than his brother who is seven years older.
On his style of play, Tani is described as being aggressive in his approach, alarming his coach at times with daring decisions. On one of such occasions he sacrificed a Bishop for a pawn much to their amazement. Only after a computer consultation, the coaches confirmed it was indeed a correct move to Tani’s benefit, especially in that game.
Shawn Martinez, his chess teacher at school, described Tani as “self-driven”. Tani was signed up for a scholarship by Russell Makofsky, who oversees the chess programme. Speaking to a journalist, Makofsky said that the speed with which Tani learnt the game and the level he was operating at was incredible.