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He's a Homeless Refugee —and Best at What He Does

Tanitoluwa Adewumi just owned the New York State chess championship
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2019 1:47 PM CDT
   (YouTube)

(Newser) – After the college admissions scandal, this is refreshing: A homeless 8-year-old immigrant just smoked his category at the New York State chess championship, the Hill reports. Tanitoluwa Adewumi, who lives with his family in a Manhattan shelter, went undefeated last weekend among kindergartners to third graders. "I want to be the youngest grandmaster," he tells Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times while displaying a big trophy. It's an incredible leap for the third grader who arrived from Nigeria in 2017 and only began learning chess about a year ago. His elementary school waived fees for him to join the chess program, and he competed in the tournament last year with the lowest rating of any player, 105.

His rating this year was a scorching 1587 (to compare, world-best Magnus Carlsen has 2845). Tani also stunned coaches with an aggressive play style that included giving up a bishop for a mere pawn, which helped a few moves later. "He is so driven," says his school chess teacher. "He does 10 times more chess puzzles than the average kid. He just wants to be better." Support from his parents plays no small role: His mother, Oluwatoyin Adewumi, broke the ice with the school chess club, and his father earns money by driving an Uber and working as a licensed real estate salesman. For now, Tani can't stop smiling. "I feel American," he says. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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