There are plenty of reasons why Tanitoluwa Adewumi captured the world’s attention in March 2019 after winning the New York State chess championship in his age group. Nine-year-old “Tani” was living in a Manhattan homeless shelter. And he was a refugee. Tani’s family had fled northern Nigeria and sought asylum in America in 2017 after being threatened by Boko Haram, a jihadist group. Oh, one more thing: when Tani took home the state championship trophy, he had been playing for only a year. It is little wonder his inspiring story is already the subject of three books (the first was published on April 14th) and a film.
But the story doesn’t end there. Tani is getting better. Chess players are ranked by the United States Chess Federation and the World Chess Federation using the Elo system. Named after Arpad Elo, a Hungarian-American physics professor and chess enthusiast, Elo ratings are based on a player’s performance in matches, and the skill level of their opponents, according to a mathematical formula. A beginner typically scores 800, an average player 1500 and a professional 2200. Grandmasters score above 2500. After his win a year ago, Tani was rated at 1587, or 20th among eight-year-olds in America. Today he is rated at 2059, number three among players his age, and on track to be number one.
Incredible story… fled Boko Haram and now at age 9 is on track to become one of the youngest chess grandmaster’s ever: https://t.co/5pmfemTQnY
— Heath J Antoine, MD (@drHeathA) June 9, 2020