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Ferdinand Maumo!


John Bain

Ferdinand Maumo was born to play chess!

Regarding intelligence (IQ), however, people with cerebral palsy (CP) fall within the normal distribution on a bell-shaped curve with approximately 2.5% falling in the superior/genius range.

Cerebral palsy (CP) affects a person’s mobility, coordination, agility, balance and posture.

10-year-old Ferdinand was was born in the slums of Makoko, Nigeria–the “Venice of Africa.” Makoko is an 85,000 person city built above water.  Much of Makoko is built on structures constructed on stilts above the Lagos Lagoon, making for challenging living conditions.

Makoko a city on stilts above water

Makoko is a city on stilts over the water!

Children grow up in Makoko surrounded by polluted water and are often forced to become fishermen as adults. Most children in Makoko learn to swim, row and fish at a very young age.

Ferdinand’s father is a fisherman. However, Ferdinand’s condition does not allow him follow in his father’s footsteps. Instead, Ferdinand works with his mother at home and at the market selling the catch of the day.

10 year old Ferdinand Maumo sitting at chessboard behind the black pieces

Ferdinand finds a chess club!

One day when walking, Ferdinand looked into a chess club in the slums of Makoko. He walked inside and his peers started making fun of him because of his awkward CP conditions.

However, coach Babatunde Onakoya, who is part of the Chess in Slums Africa program, welcomed Ferdinand.

“I gave him a chance to learn with the other kids and got the shock of a lifetime. In fewer than twenty minutes he could move the pieces and was able to solve complex geometrical puzzles on the board,” the coach said.

“It didn’t take me long to realize that Ferdinand was a savant. He solved a complex Knight move puzzle just a few minutes after teaching him the basic Knight moves,” Coach Babatunde said.

“This in itself is an extraordinary feat, even for a genius.”

Ferdinand Maumo was born to play chess!

10 year old Ferdinand Maumo holding trophy arrives home on a boat to his stilt house

Ferdinand bringing home the trophy!

Ferdinand did turn out to be a chess savant. Less than one month after learning the game, Ferdinand won the junior section of a local tournament.

His peers have learned to respect him on the board and to value him as a friend. They carried the trophy on a boat to his stilt house–and to his parents’ utter excitement, amazement, disbelief, pride and joy.

10 year old Ferdinand Maumo holding trophy sitting with mother

Ferdinand and his mother!

His mother said, “Ferdinand is more grounded at home and he’s even teaching chess to his little brother. The other mothers of Makoko come to congratulate him. Now I can hope that he will become something in life.”

Contribute to Ferdinand’s GoFundMe

10 year old Ferdinand Maumo with medal around neck raising trophy

Ferdinand hoisting the trophy!

The slums of Makoko are one of the most difficult places in the world to live.

However, Sunde Onakoya, the founder of Chess in Slums Africa, says, “A slum is just a place. It does not define the people who live there.”

Ensuring Ferdinand’s Future

GoFundMe Photo of Ferdinand

Learn To Play Chess

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Get the best materials for your chess club!

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Scholastic Chess Workbooks!

Beginner’s Book – Chess Rules For Students

Chess Rules For Students workbook

“Knights Battle”

Chess Rules For Students is a workbook for students learning the game of chess and for beginning students returning to the game. No previous knowledge of chess is necessary. Parents unfamiliar with chess will find this booklet a valuable guide to their child’s new interest.

Chess Rules For Students is designed with students, coaches, and parents in mind. Reading level is appropriate for grade-school use. All major rules of chess are covered, and algebraic notation worksheets are included. Each page is in easy-to-use worksheet format.

A student-friendly Answer Key makes self-correction fun!

Beginners & Intermediate Book – Checkmate! Ideas For Students

Checkmate! Ideas For Students

“Knight Checkmates King!”

Checkmate! Ideas For Students is a workbook for beginning and intermediate students. Checkmate! covers the tactics used in checkmate attacks with clear explanations, diagrams and arrows to pinpoint the key features.

Unlike many other basic checkmate books, Checkmate! categorizes the checkmates by the tactics used to force the checkmate–like Pins, Sacrifices, Removing the Guard, Attraction, Clearance and Attacking Flight Squares–rather than only the checkmate pattern itself.

The worksheets and Answer Key are clear and simple for the student to use, and easy for the parent, teacher and coach to correct! Fun!

Intermediate & Advanced Book – Chess Tactics For Students

Chess Tactics For Students workbook

“Profiles Face-Off in King’s Shadow”

Chess Tactics For Students contains 434 carefully selected problems in worksheet format.

Chess Tactics has been extensively field tested with elementary, middle-school, and high-school students over a four-year period. This book is ideal for independent seat work as well as for homework and classroom instruction.

The worksheet format and Answer Key enable self-correction with minimal dependence or direct help from a chess teacher, coach, or parent.

Chess for Students Shop Now


Solve a chess puzzle, enter the weekly drawing as often as you like, and win awesome prizes! Winners’ prizes are listed below. If you don’t win this week, try again next week! New puzzles are posted daily!


Below are the weekly prizes we send out! If you don’t win, try again the following week for your chance to win! Click on the prize to learn more about it.

Checkmate In One Prize
Chess Rules For Students Workbook
An instructional workbook designed for students learning the game of chess. Click here to learn more!
Checkmate In Two Prize
Checkmate! Ideas For Students
An instructional workbook containing tactics in worksheet format used to checkmate--like Pins, Sacrifices, Removing the Guard, Attraction, Clearance, and Attacking Flight Squares!
Checkmate In Three Prize
Chess Tactics For Students
An instructional workbook containing 434 carefully selected problems presented in worksheet format.

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