10-year-old Nigerian US Refugee Tani Adewunmi becomes National chess master
10-year-old Nigerian refugee in the United States of America, Tani Adewumi has become a national chess master with 2223 ratings.
Adewunmi first came into the limelight in 2019 when he won the New York State chess championship at the age of 8 while living with his refugee family in a homeless shelter.
Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for New York Times who wrote about Adewunmi two years ago confirmed the latest feat on Sunday.
According to Kristof, the 5th grader won the national chess master title after his latest championship at the Chess Club of Fairfield County (CCFC).
“Tani is a reminder: Talent is universal, but opportunity is not. He was lucky that his homeless shelter was near a school with a chess program. It waived the chess club fees for him. He’s also a reminder that refugees enrich our country (I say that as the son of a refugee).” Kristof said.
The US chess federation said the national chess master is any player who reaches a “2200 rating”.
The US body overseeing chess competitions adds: “Less than one percent of rated players hold the title. An Original Life Master is a National Master who played 300 games with a rating [of] over 2200” points amassed from games.
Recall that, Adewunmi and his family fled Nigeria for the US over the Boko Haram crisis in 2017. The family obtained asylum and lived in a homeless shelter in Manhattan. During that time, the boy learned how to play chess at school.
The school chess coach saw the child’s potential and approached his family about joining the chess programme. Fees were waived for Tani to join the club.
A GoFundMe page was set up to move the family out of the homeless shelter. Since its launch, the site has raised US$250,000 (NZ$349,000). The family now has a home and has settled in New York City.