A 8-year-old Nigerian boy, Tanitoluwa Adewunmi has become a child-chess star in the United States.
Adewunmi, whose family is homeless in Manhattan, has seven trophies after winning his category at the New York State chess championship, according to the New York Times.
The prodigy also went undefeated at the state tournament recently, outwitting children from elite private schools with private chess tutors.
Adewunmi’s rating is now 1587 and rising fast and he is being compared with the world’s best player, Magnus Carlsen, stands at 2845.
His family reportedly fled the Boko Haram insurgency and sought asylum in 2018. They arrived New York City and have, since, been living in a shelter.
Adewunmi began attending the local elementary school, P.S. 116, which has a part-time chess teacher who taught his class how to play.
Having enjoyed the game, the boy prodded his mother, Oluwatoyin Adewumi, to ask if he could join the chess club.
She reportedly sent an email to the chess club, explaining the boy’s interest in the programme and her inability to pay the fees for the programme because the family was living in a shelter.
Russell Makofsky, who oversees the P.S. 116 chess programme, reportedly waived the fees, and a year ago the boy took part in his first tournament with the lowest rating of any participant, 105.
Describing his rise, Makofsky said, “One year to get to this level, to climb a mountain and be the best of the best, without family resources, I have never seen it.”
Although his mother cannot play chess, she takes him every Saturday to a three-hour free practice session in Harlem, and she attends his tournaments.
“He is so driven. He does 10 times more chess puzzles than the average kid. He just wants to be better,” his school chess teacher, Shawn Martinez said.