One 8-year-old who lives in a homeless shelter has recently earned the title of New York State chess champion for his age bracket.
“I want to be the youngest grandmaster,” Tanitoluwa Adewumi shared with The New York Times.
Tanitoluwa won first place at the New York State Scholastic Championships tournament for kindergarten through third grade.
“It’s unheard of for any kid, let alone one in a homeless shelter,” Russell Makofsky shared with USA TODAY.
Russell oversees Manhattan’s P.S. 116 chess program.
Tanitoluwa and his family have not had a simple life.
After his family left northern Nigeria in 2017 in fear of the attacks on Christians, they moved to New York City over a year ago.
It was there Tanitoluwa learned to play chess at school.
Currently, he lives in a homeless shelter with his parents.
Recently, Tanitoluwa Adewumi earned the title of New York’s chess champion for kindergarten through third grade after learning the game just a year ago.
After observing Tanitoluwa’s potential at a game just a few weeks after learning it early last year, School chess coach Shawn Martinez reached out to Tanitoluwa’s family about him joining the school’s chess program.
Upon learning that they were unable to pay costs associated with membership — Makofsky decided to waive Tanitoluwa’s fees — which can exceed upwards of thousands of dollars with travel and chess camp admissions.
His mother takes him to a free three-hour practice session in Harlem while his father lets him use a laptop to play chess online.
The elementary school boy is now one of the top players for his age group in the country — with a total of seven trophies in his possession.
“He works very hard at his game,” Martinez shared.
He estimates Tanitoluwa could level up to master status “in the next year or two.”
Currently, the world’s youngest grandmaster qualified at the age of 12.
Tanitoluwa touched the heart of many, causing Makofsky to set up a GoFundMe.
Since posting, the family has received offers for a car, legal services, jobs, as well as housing, with folks commenting:
“I am an immigrant as well, celebrating 40 years in the USA this very weekend. All we are looking for as immigrants is opportunity. We congratulate and support Tani as he is obviously making the most of his opportunity and I am sure great things are in store for him and his adoptive home where all things are possible!”
“Tani, you’re amazing, and YAY for your mom for helping to bring chess into your life. I have no doubt you’ll become a grand master.”
“Tani and his family’s iridescent spirits are an inspiration; nothing can stop an individual’s personal progression except their own fears. Their courage illuminates the soul’s perseverance, and I hope that Tani and his family have a home as warm and inviting as their intrepid hearts.”
“Very inspiring! Please remember that a great education is the door to the best opportunities. Take this blessing that life has given you and become the best person you can be so you can give back to the world. Work hard, study hard, be humble and righteous.”
“My hope is that he’ll be in a home tonight,” Makofsky said.
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