An eight-year-old boy who fled Nigeria with his family and is now living in a homeless shelter in New York City while his asylum application pends has been crowned the state’s chess champion for his age group.
Tanitoluwa Adewumi won the state tournament for his group, from kindergarten through third grade, last weekend.
The boy and his family fled their home in Nigeria in 2017 in fear for their lives and have been living in a homeless shelter ever since while their application for asylum pends.
Tani, as he is known to family and friends, plays chess at the elementary school he attends and practices every night in the shelter.
His father Kayode drives for Uber and is also a real estate broker.
The family moved to the US to escape Boko Haram, a terrorist group responsible for atrocious attacks against Africans.
Because they are devout Christians, they feared they would be targeted.
Tani and his siblings became enrolled in local elementary schools not long after they arrived and he discovered the chess club.
His mother Oluwatoyin emailed them to say that while they could not afford to pay the fees attached, he was eager to participate.
The club waived the fees to encourage him.
Not only does Tani play with them, but he also attends a free, three-hour practice session in Harlem every Saturday to master his game. At night, he uses his father’s laptop to practice.
Now, he wants to be the youngest grandmaster ‘ever’, he told The New York Times.
Russ Makofsy, who runs the chess club in which Tani plays, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help the boy’s family.
He said it was astonishing how much Tani had improved in just a year.
‘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 told The Times.