Most people don’t have a noteworthy achievement to remember from when they were eight years old. Well, Tani Adewumi is not most people. At the tender age of eight, Tani has made it possible for his family to move into a new home after spending over a year at a local New York shelter. Thanks to his killer chess skills, the youngster charmed the hearts of many after scooping the top award at the New York State Scholastic Chess Championship in mid-March of this year.
Tani’s transition from novice to class B professional
According to Tani’s coach Russell Makofsky, the young boy learned to play chess only about a year ago, starting off at a below average ranking of 105 and working his way up to a ranking of 1,587. With his current ranking, Tani is no longer a novice but rather a skilled class B professional. Tani’s transition surprised many including his coach who admitted that it is not easy to master the game in such a short amount of time. Makofsky notes "his intellect, his aptitude, his capacity to learn chess is off the charts. From not playing to beating the best of the best in one year is unheard of, all while living in a homeless shelter."
People close to the rising star are attributing his success to his unwavering devotion to the game. It is said that Tani fell in love with chess immediately after he was introduced to the game. He spends a lot of time practicing with his coach after school and would borrow his father’s laptop at home to play online chess. His mom reportedly accompanied him every Saturday to practice in Harlem, New York.
The godsend coach
The coach is one among many who helped propel Tani to the top. Besides practically teaching him everything he knows about chess, he also allowed Tani to join his chess club. Considering their homeless status, the family could not afford to pay the membership fee to join the club which prompted the coach to waive all expenses upon seeing Tani’s burning desire to become a member.
Tani’s family sought religious asylum to the U.S. back in 2017. The Christian family, originally from Nigeria, was trying to flee persecution from the notorious terrorist group Boko Haram. Their asylum status is still under review. Nonetheless, things have begun to look up for the family after Tani’s championship win. A GoFundMe account setup by his coach to help the family relocate to a better home has so far raised over $230,000. The family will use some of the proceeds to form "The Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation” to offer help to others in a similar situation to Tani’s.