10-Year-Old Christian Refugee From Nigeria Is Now America’s Newest Chess Master

Tanitoluwa Adewumi,10, from New York City, is America's newest national chess master. | Facebook/Kayode Adewumi
Tanitoluwa Adewumi,10, from New York City, is America’s newest national chess master. | Facebook/Kayode Adewumi

Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a 10-year-old in New York, just became the country’s newest national chess master.

At the Fairfield County Chess Club Championship tournament in Connecticut on May 1, Adewumi won all four of his matches, bumping his chess rating up to 2223 and making him the 28th youngest person to become a chess master, according to US Chess.

“I was very happy that I won and that I got the title,” he says, “I really love that I finally got it.”

“Finally” is after about three years — the amount of time that Adewumi has been playing chess. When he started, Adewumi and his family were living in a homeless shelter in Manhattan after fleeing religious persecution by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in their home country of Nigeria.

Now, Adewumi practices chess “every day” after school for “10, 11 hours” — and still manages to get some sleep.

His hours of practice have paid off. As a chess player, he describes himself as a bit of an every man, “aggressive” or “calm” when he needs to be, and always thinking ahead.

“On a normal position, I can do up to 20 moves [in advance]”, he says. Keeping all of the pieces straight in his head might seem like a challenge but Adewumi says it’s a skill that “when you master, it just keeps coming back.”

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Source: NPR