Ten-year-old Tanitoluwa Adewumi became the newest chess master in the US after winning all four of his matches at the Fairfield County Chess Club Championship on May 1. After his wins, the youngster’s chess rating was bumped to 2223, surpassing the 2200 threshold to become a chess master.
“I was very happy that I won and that I got the title,” Tanitoluwa told NPR. “I really love that I finally got it.” According to the outlet, the ten-year-old started playing the game only three years ago and started to learn when he and his family were living in a homeless shelter after fleeing religious persecution in their home country of Nigeria.
When he was eight years old, he won New York's State Chess Championship. To keep his skills sharp, Tanitoluwa told the outlet he practices chess “every day” after school for “10, 11,” hours.
He competed against chess grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, though the young master lost that match. Nakamura, Adewumi said, “is my favorite person I’ve ever played. He’s a grandmaster, a very strong one. He’s on the top of the rankings.”
Though he lost, Adewumi says each loss provides an opportunity. “I say to myself that I never lose, that I only learn,” he said. “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,” he added.
Adewumi wrote a book about his life entitled, My Name is Tani….and I Believe in Miracles, and his family moved out of the shelter. He has ambitions to be the world’s youngest grandmaster and at 10 years and eight months old has about two years to beat the current youngest grandmaster, Sergey Karjakin, who earned the title at 12 years and seven months old.
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