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Tanitoluwa Adewumi: 6 Interesting Facts About the Nigerian Chess Prodigy


Chess isn’t a popular sport in Africa, but the continent has produced great players over the years. One of the most exciting prospects is Nigerian-American rookie Tanitoluwa Adewumi. His story is one of resilience, passion and a desire to be great. Adewumi’s fortunes have changed for the better since he took up the sport in his birth country Nigeria. Here’s what you need to know about him.

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He Moved to the United States With His Family

In 2022, Tanitoluwa Adewumi and his family were granted religious asylum in the United States. They fled Nigeria after they were threatened by the Islamist group Boko Haram in 2017 after they refused to print a poster with anti-Christians and anti-Western messages.    

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Learnt to Play Chess in School

When Tanitoluwa Adewumi moved to the United States, they lived in a homeless shelter in Manhattan. While he was there, he learnt how to play chess in school through his head coach NM Shawn Martinez. He later joined the school chess team, where he got more opportunities to advance his career.

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Has an Autobiography

Tanitoluwa might only be 13 years old but already has an autobiography. My Name Is Tani, and I believe Miracles is the book’s title. It was published in 2022 and is designed for readers between 8 and 12. Tani tells his story of how he rose from being a refugee to a chess champion.

Won Notable Championships

In his first year of competition, Tanitoluwa won seven trophies. In 2019, he won the 52nd Annual New York State Scholastic Championships (kindergarten-3rd grade division). 

After that, in 2021, he surpassed the 2200 Elo rating and became a National Master. This made him the 28th youngest chess player to achieve this feat. In the same year, he became a FIDE (International Chess Federation) Master after surpassing the FIDE rating of 2300. 

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So far, he’s won three International Masters norms and is short of one to be granted the International Masters (IM) title.

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Opened a Foundation

In 2019, the Tanitoluwa family started the Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation to help underprivileged children. This is a way of giving back after the assistance they received when they left Nigeria. Apart from that, they contribute money to a chess foundation in Africa to nurture talents and encourage more people to join. 

Practises for More Than Eight Hours

Tani has set his sights on becoming the youngest Grand Master in chess. To achieve that, he practises for seven to ten hours a day. One of the things he does is study some of the best chess players like Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura.

Tani is an inspiration to many. He’s proven that dedication and desire can drive you to reach your goals, regardless of your background. If Tani’s story has got you interested in chess, Amazon has a list of chess equipment and books you can buy to start your journey in the game. 

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