The 8-year-old Nigerian homeless refugee child who was recently crowned a New York Chess Champion, moved to the US with his family to escape Boko Haram, a terrorist group responsible for atrocious attacks.
He enrolled in a local elementary school with his siblings not long after they arrived, and he discovered the chess club. However after his mother is mother Oluwatoyin emailed them to say that while they could not afford to pay the fees attached, the club waived the fees because he was quite eager to participate.
Tani does not only play with them, but he also attends a free three-hour practice session in Harlem every Saturday to master his game. At night, he uses his father’s laptop to practice. A year ago the boy took part in his first tournament with the lowest rating of any participant, 105.
His rating is now 1587 and rising fast. (By comparison, the world’s best player, Magnus Carlsen, stands at 2845.) Tani has an aggressive style of play, and in the state tournament the coaches, watching from the sidelines, were shocked when he sacrificed a bishop for a lowly pawn. Alarmed, they fed the move into a computer and it agreed with Tani, recognizing that the gambit would improve his position several moves later.
It is sometimes tough for Tani, as his parents disclosed that he once came home from school crying after classmates teased him for being homeless. And at an immigration hearing last fall, he burst into tears when he misunderstood the judge to say that the family would be deported.