Tani Adewumi Earns Second IM Norm, Strives For Youngest GM Record

FM Tanitoluwa Adewumi, age 11, has earned his second IM norm, of the three required to earn the coveted international master title, at the NY Summer Invitational IM C closed round-robin tournament which concluded on July 11, 2022. He won the tournament in clear first with 7/9 points, the only undefeated player in the field and ahead of three international masters.

The tournament started off with a bang as the prodigy won his first three games to take an early lead. His second-round win over IM Levy Rozman (@GothamChess) with the black pieces demonstrated the strategy of meeting a flank attack with a strike in the center. As Rozman launched an attack on the kingside, the popular streamer and content creator was suddenly met with the thematic Sicilian ….d5 pawn break, and an unfortunate reaction allowed the younger master to prevail with a blazing attack and a satisfying final flurry of tactics.

His quickest win came in round five, where Adewumi showcased the ability to play on both sides of the board. After pushing his h-pawn to h5, he then sent his b-pawn forward to gain space on the queenside. The pressure mounted until it culminated in a 24-move miniature. The climactic 23.Nxc4! tactic was peanuts for the young player who has scored as high as 51 in 3-minute Puzzle Rush.

The young Adewumi’s talents were noticed early on by the chess community, but how far a prodigy will go remains a question until they prove themselves, often against the backdrop of the many startling accomplishments of others. The Nigerian-American refugee caught national attention when the New York Times covered his inspiring win at his section of the New York State Scholastic Primary Championship. He had only learned the rules less than a year prior—and lived at a homeless shelter in Manhattan with his family at the time.

Their page on gofundme.com has raised over $250,000, blowing the initial $50,000 goal out of the water, and in 2020, he and his family published a book celebrating the young talent’s achievements in such a short time period despite extreme obstacles: My Name Is Tani . . . and I Believe in Miracles.

Tani’s book. Image: Amazon.com.

He went on to earn his national master title at the age of 10, reclaiming national attention once again. In the Chess Club of Fairfield County Championship 2021, he defeated IM Justin Sarkar in the very first round and, needing only a draw in the final round to clinch the title, declined his opponent’s timid peace offer. He stood up, walked to check the board next to him, and returned to win the game in style. His opponent in that final round was the author of these very words. 

The young star went on to earn his FIDE Master title by winning the under-12 division of the North American Youth Chess Championship, with 7/9 and a point above the field. He broke the 2300-rating mark in May 2022, at the same tournament where he earned his first IM norm. 

He earned his first IM norm after tying with GM Mark Paragua in first with 7/9 at the 2022 New York Spring Invitational IM D closed round-robin tournament. He gained 127 rating points (!) and performed at a 2458 rating. Chesskid gives all the details and digestible analysis of his games here—or you can read his very own blog here.

Dr. Daaim Shabazz wrote in thechessdrum.net

“Earning his first IM norm at age 11 is magnificent for any player, but for a player of African descent, it does show that when resources are available, there is more of an opportunity to succeed. Determination, passion, and discipline are other attributes. It appears that Tani has all of the qualities needed to make progress in his quest to become a grandmaster.”

It appears that Tani has all of the qualities needed to make progress in his quest to become a grandmaster.
— Dr. Daaim Shabazz

Adewumi has garnered national attention virtually since he’s started playing. Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Several other players, including grandmasters, walked from their boards to congratulate the young champion after he secured his second IM norm with a quick final-round draw, according to his father. With a 2448 performance, he has shown the capacity to play at the IM level on a consistent basis.

The tournament’s final standings. Image: chess-results.com.

Adewumi has shared in multiple interviews his dream to become the youngest grandmaster ever. The current record was set by GM Abhimanyu Mishra at 12 years, four months, and 25 days. He has until January 28, 2023, to meet this record if he wants to break it. 

Do you believe he can become the youngest GM ever? How far do you think the young star will go? Leave your comments below, and thanks for reading!



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