Tani Adewumi has made history in his own right. His story resembles that of a made-for-television movie. So, let’s get reacquainted with the ten-year-old Nigerian refugee who is now a national chess master!

We first covered Tani’s story in 2020 when he won the NY State chess championship while living in a homeless shelter, proving that hard work and dedication pays off.


“Most chess players hit a halt in their rankings when they get to that point, and they have to train more intensely to get over that peak,” Shawn Martinez said in a previous interview with ESPN about his student prodigy. “But Tani kept progressing steadily from the beginning. Tani used chess as a teddy bear when he first started, you know? He found it, and he held on tight.”

Tani and his family fled northern Nigeria in 2017, fearing the attacks of the Boko Haram on Christians, ending up in a New York City homeless shelter. “It’s an inspiring example of how life’s challenges do not define a person,” Jane Hsu, principal of P.S. 116 told the New York Times in a previous interview. She attributes the boys success to his extremely supportive parents who make sure that he makes his three-hour free practice sessions in Harlem every Sunday in addition to making sure that he makes it to all of his tournaments.

Now, Tanitoluwa Adewumi has taken his love for chess to the next level and has officially become a U.S. National Chess Master.

His father commented to CTVNews on his son’s win. “When he came in first, my heart burst out of my chest. I was extremely happy.”

Remember when we said that Tani’s story resembles that of a made-for-television movie? Well, it has actually gone beyond that. Last year, a biography called My Name is Tani, based on the story of his life was published. It is now on track to become a Paramount Pictures film!

Congratulations, Tani! We cannot wait to see the next chapter in your story.

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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