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A Series of Moves Shaped this Nigerian Child’s Chess Game

Tani Adewumi is no ordinary chess player. And his journey isn’t ordinary, either. Two years ago his family settled into a New York City homeless shelter after fleeing Boko Haram in Nigeria; his father refused to print a poster waging war and the group was out to get him. Thirteen months earlier, he couldn’t tell a rook from a pawn. In March 2019, after drawing in the final, he was crowned a state champion. They didn’t know it then, but Tani’s 8-year-old brain and its ability to think 20 moves ahead on an 8-by-8 chessboard were about to change the Adewumis’ lives forever. The story was read by millions of people, and a GoFundMe page was established with the hope to raise money — $10,000 — to move the Adewumis out of the homeless shelter. Seemingly every time they refreshed the page, they’d received another $1,000. Within the first few days, they’d made $100,000. And then NBC wanted them on the “Today” show and the total soared to nearly $260,000. Then two anonymous donors came forward — one who offered to pay a year’s worth of rent (which has now ended) for their new house, and one who wanted to buy them a car.