Tanitoluwa “Tani” Adewumi has become the U.S. “national chess master” at just 10 years old.
Tani took part in the Fairfield County Chess Club Championship tournament in Connecticut on May 1. The young prodigy won all four of his matches. His chess rating is now an impressive 2223 and he is the 28th youngest person in history to become a chess master, according to U.S. Chess.
“I was very happy that I won and that I got the title,” he tells the publication, “I really love that I finally got it.”
The chess whizz was seven years old when he, his parents, and his older brother migrated to New York fled from Nigeria to escape Boko Haram. They lived in a homeless shelter when they first arrived in the country. However, a year later, Tani would go on to win the New York State K-3 Championship.
He describes his chess style as every man, “aggressive” or “calm” when needed. He says the key to a successful game is always thinking ahead.
“On a normal position, I can do up to 20 moves [in advance]”, he says, adding, “when you master, it just keeps coming back.”
When asked about his favorite match, he says it was one of the few he has lost.
“I guess Hikaru Nakamura is my favorite person I’ve ever played,” he says. “He’s a grandmaster, a very strong one. He’s on the top of the rankings.”
But Nakamura won that match.
“I say to myself that I never lose, that I only learn,” he explained. “Because when you lose, you have to make a mistake to lose that game. So you learn from that mistake, and so you learn [overall]. So losing is the way of winning for yourself.”
And how does he keep the wins coming?
He says he practices chess “every day” after school for “10, 11 hours.”
Tani already has his eyes on the next big prize.
“Win the national,” he said. “Then I want to be the youngest grandmaster in history.”
Sergey Karjakin currently holds the record after landing the title in 2014 at 12 years and seven months.
Congratulations to Tanitoluwa, America’s newest Chess Master!