Tani Adewumi clinches first IM norm in New York

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
4/20/2022 – The ever-smiling Nigerian boy who made it to the news a bit over three years ago continues to climb the rating ladder. Tanitoluwa Adewumi, better known as Tani, is 11 years old and has just grabbed his first IM norm at the New York Spring Invitational. Once a refugee escaping a terrorist group, he is now a household name in the chess world. | Photo: Kayode Adewumi

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The kid who believes in miracles

Tanitoluwa AdewumiOnly three years ago, Tani Adewumi’s family was still living in a New York City homeless shelter. A story published on March 16, 2019 in the New York Times turned their lives around.

At 8, Tani had just won the New York State Scholastic Chess Championship in his age group with a 5½/6 score. Impressively, the boy performed that well only a year after having learned the rules of the game. A GoFundMe campaign was set up for the family by Russel Makofsky, who oversaw the chess program at Tani’s elementary school, raising over $200,000 in a few days’ time.

Tani’s parents are devout Christians and decided to donate part of the money raised to the church that helped them out when they arrived to the United States. They also created a foundation to assist struggling African immigrants.

Since then, the ever-smiling boy has become a household name in the chess world. Besides being invited to visit Bill Clinton at his office in Harlem, Tani has played several blitz games against Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, and has been part of the Kasparov Chess Foundation’s Young Stars program.  

Now, at 11, Tani has earned his first IM norm at the New York Spring Invitational.

[Photo: Tanitoluwa Adewumi’s Twitter profile]

Tani scores 7/9, gains 127 rating points

Four parallel tournaments were organized in New York City on April 14-18. In the top event, including three GMs, IM Jason Lian grabbed a grandmaster norm, while Maximillian Lu, Bach Ngo and Tanitoluwa Adewuni obtained IM norms in the three remaining round-robin tournaments.

Lu was the third seed in the IM-B event and Ngo was the fourth highest-rated player in the IM-C event, while Tani was only seventh in the IM-D 10-player tournament. The 11-year-old nonetheless scored 7 out of 9 to get the coveted norm, finishing undefeated and gaining no less than 127.6 rating points. A remarkable performance by an impressively quick learner!

In round 4, Tani defeated FM Aaron Jacobson with the white pieces. Black was worse out of the opening, and by move 27, forcing tactics favouring White began to appear on the board.


Tani found 26.d5 Rxd5 27.Bxa7, not fearing 27...b6 since after 28.Rxd5 Qxd5 another pawn push allowed him to keep his material edge — 29.e6


The rest was easy for the teenager, who thus grabbed his fourth consecutive win. It will certainly be a memorable tournament for the Nigerian-American rising star!

Final standings - IM D

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 PARAGUA Mark 7,0 0,5
2 ADEWUMI Tanitoluwa 7,0 0,5
3 WANG Eigen 6,0 0,0
4 JACOBSON Aaron 5,5 0,0
5 SAVANOVIC Aleksandar 5,0 0,5
6 CSONKA Attila Istvan 5,0 0,5
8 YANG Qindong 3,0 0,0
9 ESPINOSA Pedro 1,5 0,5
10 DANS Dwight 1,5 0,5

All games



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.