Tani Adewumi becomes National Master at 10

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/19/2021 – Already a well-known figure in the world of chess, Tanitoluwa Emmanuel Adewumi made mainstream headlines after becoming a National Master at the Fairfield County Chess Club Championship tournament in Connecticut. The 10-year-old was a Nigerian refugee living in a homeless shelter in Manhattana and is now pursuing the dream of becoming the world’s youngest grandmaster. | Photo: Epoch Times

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An inspiring story

As reported two years ago in our news page, it all started with a Sunday opinion column in the New York Times: a story about an 8-year-old Nigerian refugee who was living with his family in a homeless shelter and just returned from the New York State Scholastic Chess Championship, in Saratoga Springs, NY, with a trophy “almost as big as he is”. 

Since then, things have only improved for the talented kid from Nigeria. A GoFundMe campaign was set up for the family by Russel Makofsky, who oversaw the chess program at Tani’s elementary school, and it was linked by The Times with an initial goal meeting the family’s immediate housing needs. Within two days the campaign’s goal was increased to $50,000 following the overwhelming response from the public. Then the story really took off.

One donor who heard his story offered the family a rent-free apartment for a year near Tani’s school, reports Kristof in a follow-up column for The Times.

The GoFundMe campaign massively surpassed the initial goal, but the family decided not to keep the money, according to the paper:

The Adewumis have decided that they will not spend a cent of the $200,000 GoFundMe money on themselves. They will take out a 10 percent tithe and donate it to their church, which helped them while they were homeless, and the rest will be channeled through a new Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation to help African immigrants who are struggling in the United States the way they were a week ago.


The Adewumi family

My name is TaniA year later, Tani’s story was published in a book called “My name is Tani...and I believe in miracles”. In his review of the book, Avathanshu Bhat wrote:

Not long since he first heard about the game, Tani was exceptionally quick at learning the fundamentals, and what took people months in his chess club only took three weeks of rigorous training with his coaches Shawn and Russ. He has an aggressive style of play and idolizes Paul Morphy, from whom he took inspiration.

Tani continues to climb the rating ladder, as he has recently become a National Master by scoring 4/4 points at the Fairfield County Chess Club Championship in Connecticut, a tournament that is played with a 30-minute time control for the whole game. The performance raised his US chess rating above 2200, the threshold that grants players the NM title in the United States.

Talking to Mary Louis Kelly for NPR, Tani explained:

I say to myself that I never lose, that I only learn, because when you lose, you have to make a mistake to lose that game. So you learn from that mistake, and so you learn [overall]. So losing is the way of winning for yourself.

Replay two wins by Tani from the tournament in Connecticut, one with each colour:



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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