A 10-year-old who once lived in a New York City homeless shelter has achieved a remarkable title for someone his age: chess master.
Tanitoluwa “Tani” Adewumi became America’s newest chess master on May 1 at the age of 10 years, seven months and 28 days, making him the 28th youngest person to achieve the status, according to the U.S. Chess Federation.
“I was very happy that I won and that I got the title,” Tani, a Nigerian refugee, told NPR. “I really love that I finally got it.”
On his road to master status, Tani had to defeat two experts, a master and an international master, the Chess Federation said.
He told NPR he practiced chess for 10 or 11 hours every day after school to get to that level.
Tani made national headlines in 2019 when he was living in a homeless shelter and won the New York state chess championship for his age group.
Tani’s family left northern Nigeria in 2017 as refugees and moved to New York City, the New York Times reported. While his family lived in a homeless shelter, Tani learned to play chess at school.
When his family was unable to pay membership costs for the school’s chess program, chess teacher Russell Makofsky waived the fees. Tani went on to win the state championship for kindergarten through third grade in 2019.
“It’s unheard of for any kid, let alone one in a homeless shelter,” Makofsky told USA TODAY at the time.