Tanitoluwa Adewumi has emerged the winner of the state-wide New York’s chess championship in the third-grade category (kindergarten through third grade) with over a year of learning.
He won the competition with an undefeated performance.
Prior to becoming the champion, Tanitoluwa Adewumi won seven trophies, which stay by his bed as he aims to be the youngest grandmaster. This title is currently held by Sergey Karjakin Ukraine, a chess prodigy who qualified for the title at the age of 12 years and 7 months.
Tanitoluwa Adewumi and his family left northern Nigeria in 2017 for New York. His father, Kayode Adewumi, explains that they had to leave their home country because he was afraid they would be targeted by Boko Haram terrorists.
While living in a homeless shelter with his family in New York in USA and waiting on their asylum request to be accepted, the eight-year-old started attending the local elementary school, P.S. 116. There, he met a part-time chess teacher, Shawn Martinez, who taught his class how to play. Adewumi enjoyed the game and was granted permission by his mother, Oluwatoyin Adewumi to join the chess club. His mother emailed the club to tell them about her son, adding that they could not afford to pay the fees. Russell Makofsky, the head of the P.S. 116 chess program, decided to waive the fees.
Since joining the club, he attends a free, three-hour practice session in Harlem every Saturday and uses his father’s laptop to practice at night.
During his first tournament, he had the lowest rating of any participant, 105. One year later, his rating has gone up to 1,587. This is a huge feat considering the fact that the world’s best player, Magnus Carlsen, stands at 2,845.
Makofsy, who runs his chess club, says he is very impressed by Tanitoluwa’s progress.
According to Makofsy:
“One year to get to this level, to climb a mountain and be the best of the best, without family resources. I’ve never seen it.”
“He is so driven. He does 10 times more chess puzzles than the average kid. He just wants to be better.”