10-year-old Nigerian refugee turned national chess master – fr

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10-year-old Nigerian refugee turned national chess master – fr


TORONTO – From liberation from persecution to the start of a new life in the United States, young Tani Adewumi’s immigrant journey has been mired in adversity, mirroring the refugee experiences of so many who disembark in North America.

But picking up the failures just four years ago has turned into a transformative movement that has helped change everything for her family. And now, at just 10 years old, Tani has just become an American national chess master.

The Nigerian refugee’s remarkable rise comes two years after he gained worldwide attention for winning the New York State Chess Championship while he and his family lived in a homeless shelter. shelter.

His father, Kayode Adewumi, said he was beaming from ear to ear when his fifth-year son won the chess master’s title after winning his final championship in Fairfield, CT on Saturday. He now has a massive chess rating of 2223 – a 2200 is needed to earn the title of chess master.

“When he first arrived, my heart burst out of my chest,” Adewumi told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview Monday. “I was extremely happy.”

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who wrote two articles about the youngster and mentioned him in his 2020 book, “Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope,” with enthusiasm tweeted the news on Sunday.

Although Adewumi calls Tani “just a normal kid” who enjoys watching basketball, he said, “By the grace of God, he wants to be the youngest grandmaster in the world. “

The 10-year-old has a few more years to achieve, the honor currently belonging to Ukrainian Sergey Karjakin, who was 12 when he became Grandmaster in 2003.

But Tani is off to a good start.

In recent years, the young teenager has competed regularly across the United States and is even coached by Georgian chess grandmaster Giorgi Kacheishvili.

He visited the game shortly after his family arrived in the United States in 2017. Tani’s family had fled to North America from Nigeria due to fears about Boko Haram, which was terrorizing Christians in the region, Adewumi told The Times in 2019.

Tani joined her school’s chess program in Manhattan and quickly fell in love with the strategy and the deep thinking involved, her father told CTVNews.ca.

But although the boy won accolades and beat dozens of other young chess players across New York City, his family could not afford stable housing and were temporarily living in a homeless shelter.

But after Kristof’s New York Times article, people flooded the family’s GoFundMe fundraiser with U $ S254,000, which partially moved them to better accommodation before moving to Port Jefferson, New Brunswick. York, where they currently reside.

In a recent Facebook post, Kristof noted that Tani was a prime example of how “talent is universal, but opportunity is not.” He said Tani was extremely lucky that the shelter is in a school district where there was even a chess program.

In 2019, with surplus funds from GoFundme, the family has since established a trust called the Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation, to help other children in similar circumstances. Last year the ‘My Name Is Tani’ biography based on their life was released and Tani’s story might even hit the big screen a day after Paramount Pictures secured the rights to her life.

Tani’s father and the rest of his family are excited to see how far they’ve come, and he hopes his son’s example will inspire other refugee families around the world.

Kayode Adewumi, who is now a real estate agent in Farmingville, NY, had three words for other newcomer families: “Keep hope alive.”

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