DAA Daily

11 year old chess prodigy flees from Boko Haram

By: Paul Seefeld, Sports Editor, The Pawprint 

Tani Adewumi who turned 11 years old in September is a rigorous chess player. Earlier this year, he became a US national master and the 28th youngest person to ever achieve this title. His goal, to become the game’s youngest ever grand master. That record is currently held by 12 year old Abhimanyu Mishra, who also holds the record for the youngest national master which he reached at 9 years old. However, Tani is putting in all the hours he possibly can. 

He currently attends school in New York, and won the New York State chess championship in 2019. That was the moment where everything changed for him and his family, only two years before that they had to flee Nigeria due to attacks by the extremist group “Boko Haram”. 

When they arrived in the United States they lived in a homeless shelter for a whole year, quickly after being in school he decided to join the chess club. Which is what started it all. Thanks to chess the family has been gifted: about a year’s rent, a brand new Honda and the St Louis Chess Club has offered them to pay a visit.

The financial situation has completely changed with chess, the father who works in Real Estate said “”A lot of people really helped us, a lot of people gave us financial (support) and money … they donated money for us to get out from the shelter.” Now that the family is financially stable, they have decided to give out some of their money to various foundations, one that helps the people in their previous homeless shelter, and the other being a chess foundation in Africa motivating people to get into the game at a young age.

Tani now has closets full of trophies and hopes to get even more of them. When asked about his playing style he describes it as the following; “I’m aggressive, I like to attack, it’s just the way I think in general: I want to checkmate my opponent as fast as I can.” Most players have been with his gift and to have such a mature and developed mind at such an incredibly young age.”He has a philosophy that when you lose, you try again to work out what made you lose and encourage yourself to get better.” That philosophy has reaped rewards so far, and that’s what could potentially get him to be the youngest grandmaster in the history of chess.

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