Tani, who turned 11 in September, is taking the same approach with his chess career. After becoming the national master earlier this year – the 28th youngest person to achieve the title – he now wants to become the sport’s youngest grandmaster.
“That’s what really inspired us to be where we are today, and me and my chess too,” says Tani.
In June 2017, nearly two years before winning the state championship title, Tani and his family fled northern Nigeria worried about attacks by the extremist group Boko Haram.
They lived in a homeless shelter in Manhattan after moving to the United States, and shortly after Tani joined the chess club at their school PS 116 in New York, on the agreement that the registration fee could be waived.
When talk of Tani’s state championship title spread, financial aid flooded in for her family.
“A lot of people really helped us, a lot of people gave us financial (assistance) and money… they donated money to us to get out of the shelter.”
“We need to give back to the needy, because we know what it takes – we have tasted everything,” says Mr. Adevumi.
“While we were at the shelter, some people are still there. We need to help the needy, especially the chess community and those who need help. So we put money into the foundation to help people “
The family feels indebted to the game of chess – so much so that, through the foundation, they have contributed money to a chess organization in Africa to encourage more people to take up the game.
“Chess is everything to me, it’s my life,” Tani says. “That’s how we got to where we are today.”
But his early competitive experiences were not easy; When he played his first chess tournament, Tani lost all his games.
“It definitely took me time,” he says. “I believe it all takes time.”
According to Carlsen, there are some secrets to how he became the best player in the world.
“It’s about putting in the time,” he tells Granthshala Sport. “As for me, I don’t think I could have ever gotten ahead in chess without a great love of the game, that’s what’s been driving me all these years.
“What I remember from childhood is that I used to go to school; after school I used to play football with my friends, and when I got home, I would sit at my little board, where my chessboard and chess There were books.
“I usually ate there. If I didn’t have to, I’d prefer not to eat with my family because then I couldn’t study chess … It would have been a lot of hours, but it was always because I Loved it.”
In order to follow in Carlsen’s footsteps and reach the position of Grandmaster – the highest title in chess – Tani must achieve three Grandmaster criteria – an award given for a high level of performance in a chess tournament – as well as earning a FIDE ( Fédération Internationale des Echeux) rating of 2,500.
Wherever her chess career takes her, Tani can be sure that her family’s support will never go away. His mother accompanies him to his tournaments, and recently, his father has been able to attend when he can fit it into his work schedule.
As he watches his son exit his game, Mr. Adwumi waits for a signal: thumbs up for a win, a horizontal thumb for a draw, and a down for a loss. But whatever the outcome, his father’s reaction is always the same.
“When I watch him play, it’s like your chest wants to burst until it’s empty,” says Mr. Adumei. “When he comes out … we hold him and celebrate with him … When he loses the game, I hug him, I encourage him.
“He has a philosophy that when you lose, you try to rework what you lost and encourage yourself to get better.”
That philosophy has yielded rewards so far, and it may yet help Tani Edumi achieve chess grandmaster status.
Granthshala’s Alvin Whitney contributed to this report.
Credit : www.cnn.com