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Tanitoluwa  “Tani” Adewumi

A 10-Year-Old Nigerian Refugee to USA!

by John Bain

Tani is the USA’s newest and for now youngest living* USA National Master, at the age of 10!

Tani, a 5th grader at PS 116 in New York City, earned the title on Saturday May 1, 2021 by winning the Chess Club of Fairfield County (CT) Championship with a perfect 4-0 score, beating two Experts, one National Master, and one International Master.

Tani’s family moved to the USA in 2017 to flee religious persecution in their native Nigeria, initially living in a homeless shelter.

While living in a homeless shelter with his mom, dad and brother, seven-year-old “Tani” won the 2019 New York K-3 Chess Championship.

Tani learned to play chess at 7 years old. His play improved month by month!

When Tani and his family arrived in New York City from Nigeria, a Christian pastor helped place them in a homeless shelter. Tani attended the local elementary school, P.S. 116, which had a part-time chess teacher who taught Tani’s class how to play.

*Only a handful of other USA  children–Abhi Mishra, Andy Woodward, Rachael Li, Ryo Chen, etc–have earned the National Master title by 10 years old, but today Tani is the newest, youngest living National Master for the time being.

Tani at 10 Years Old

America's Youngest Chess Master ABC News 2021

According to the United States Chess Federation, the National Master title is awarded to a player who reaches a rating of 2200. Less than one percent of rated players hold the title. An Original Life Master is a National Master who has played 300 games while maintaining a rating over 2200 points.

The average age of a US National Chess Master has decreased over the decades. For those born after 1990, the average US National Chess Master is around 19 years old. Tani was born in 2010.

Tani Never Loses!

Tani in blue sports coat 2021 National Master

“I say to myself that I never lose, that I only learn,” he says. “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.”

Where Tani Get His Grit?

Tani’s Family

Tani, brother and parents 2020

Tani’s Family

Tani gets his grit and tenacity from his parents.

Tani’s family fled northern Nigeria in 2017, fearing attacks by Boko Haram terrorists on Christians such as themselves.

Boko Haram are Nigerian terrorist jihadists whose tactics include ambushes, armed attacks, bombings, suicide attacks and kidnappings. A militant Islamist group, Boko Haram is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.

When Tani’s father Kayode–who once owned his own printing firm in Nigeria–first arrived in the USA, he worked as a night cleaner in the Bronx for $6 an hour.

He now has two jobs in New York. He rents a car to drive for Uber and he is a licensed real estate salesman!

Tani’s mom completed a course to become a certified home health aide.

Tani Today

Tani is 10 years old now. After Tani won the championship, the family eventually moved from the homeless shelter into a flat in the Lower East Side offered to them rent-free for a year.

mom Oluwatoyin, brother Austion, Tani and father Kayode August 2020

(From left) mother Oluwatoyin, brother Austin, Tani and father Kayode Adewumi

Also after he won the NYC K-3 Chess Championship, national television networks interviewed Tani and he made headlines in news outlets around the world.

Tani’s family published a 256-page memoir telling his family’s story. My Name Is Tani… and I Believe in Miracles was released in July 2020.

In addition, production companies competed for the rights to make a feel-good film about Tani. Paramount has announced plans to shoot the film.

What is Tani doing now?

Tani practices chess “seven to eight hours a day,” a lot more than usual because schools are shutdown in NYC due to the coronavirus pandemic.

During the pandemic school shutdown, Tani played a lot of online chess, but like many players, he is anxious to return to over-the-board play. “I still want to get a lot better at chess and I want to become a Grandmaster at a young age. Over-the-board play is just better because you can see your opponent,” he says.

Tani’s father, despite all the challenges, says, “The USA is a dream country. Thank God I live in the greatest city in the world, which is New York, New York!”

Learn to play chess like Tani plays chess! >

Tani at 10 Statue of Liberty in background

Beginner’s BookChess Rules For Students

Chess Rules For Students workbook

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

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 BookChess Tactics For Students

Chess Tactics For Students workbook

Chess Tactics For Students is a workbook containing 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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