Tani Adewumi is a familiar face on “CBS This Morning,” a few other TV Shows, and to millions in the chess world. In the spring of last year, the morning show known for its newsmakers introduced the nine-year-old with telepathic insight to the world at a pivotal moment. The young Adewumi had just hoisted the trophy as the New York State chess champion, vanquishing 73 opponents of considerably more years. He was sailing toward his mark of being the youngest grandmaster in the game, and through hard work and giving hearts, things were good for his family.

Vladimir Duthiers of “CBS This Morning” met up with Tani Adewumi for a follow-up visit on July 14.

Like the rest of the world, life is very different for the chess champion under pandemic conditions. The correspondent and his subject demonstrated perfect social-distancing and mask attire. The youthful champion also demonstrated how fervent he is to not waste a minute of his precious time dawdling through empty days.

In everything he does, Tani Adewumi is teaching about life as he learns more about chess. Just like in a high-stakes match, the clock is ticking.

Every minute matters for Tani Adewumi, the aspiring grandmaster

It might have looked like a casual day at the park to viewers, but Tani Adewumi is constantly mindful of time. COVID-19 proved to be a foe that no one could have foreseen, and every moment that Tani cannot be in competition, or honing his skills against living, breathing, thinking opponents, he has one less day to become a grandmaster.

“The world record is 12 years and seven months,” Tani asserts from memory. He likely dreams about that chronological milestone, as well as his own balance of years to attain his dream.

Taking after his family, Tani Adewumi is much more of a doer than a dreamer. In April, Tani and his family published their inspiring story in a book, “My Name Is Tani…And I Believe in Miracles,” from Thomas Nelson publishers.

Paying every goodness forward is a mission for this family who lived in a homeless shelter when their son started playing chess at PS 116.

As proud as the parents were of their son’s aptitude, they saw no way to afford the travel and expense involved in taking him to matches. Russell Makofsky, the overseer of the PS 116 program, and the chess coach, Shawn Martinez, waived the costs to allow Tani to participate, and more community involvement was at the core of another family blessing.

Making a home possible was the start of helping others for Tani Adewumi and his family

As the new community of supporters surrounding Tani Adewumi and his family started to realize their full situation, they found ways to put plans into action. Both parents were working, but never envisioned a home of their own until a GoFundMe page, “Just Tani” gained worldwide interest.

“It's a purely {a} miracle,” Mr. Adewumi declares. He fills with emotion as he describes how, within two weeks, the family has a home with rent paid for a year. “I truly thank God that I have a place to live,” reiterates Tani’s mother, “because it's not easy.”

Tani Adewumi and his family know what it is to sacrifice for a higher purpose.

In 2017, they fled from northern Nigeria, under constant threat to their lives from Boko Haram. They have launched their own foundation to help immigrant families facing homelessness. The broad smile of their chess hero flashed in many of the shared photos with families in need.

God does wonders, affirms Tani Adewumi, and good friends help, too

The time crunch that Tani Adewumi feels in achieving his goal as the youngest chess grandmaster does concern him, but not enough to distract him from the achievement. CBS This Morning” has featured the pursuits of many children through the current pandemic, across genders and ages. Some have shared gifts like music, as in the case of Taran and Calliope Tien, but they all have shared what they could from their hearts.

In his heart, Tani Adewumi has real faith and believes in miracles. When Duthiers questions why, the faith-filled school-ager replies without hesitation. “God is always on my side and he always does miracles,” testifies Tani. “God did wonders in me and my family’s life.”

Divine providence can also bring the right people into a boy’s life at just the perfect time. “The Daily Show” host, Trevor Noah, was so inspired by the story of the chess phenom and his family that he has plans for a movie production based on his life. The project is on pause until pandemic safety and health can be assured.

There's no worry about the project’s inspiration becoming big-headed. “It's very exciting,” admits Tani, “but it's not about ‘OK, fine, I'm popular,’” says the wise fourth-grader.

“You get spoiled” as the result of believing the hype, warns Adewumi. He counters that any good fortune should be “used to help you grow.”

A little sparring on the chessboard with his brother was fine with Tani Adewumi, however, adding a boisterous “BAM!” for championship flourish.

When matches don't go well, this champion's philosophy is that “You don't actually lose—you learn.” Determining the reason for a loss can lead to decisive victories later.

Tani Adewumi thinks that his story will encourage anyone struggling to “never give up and always try your best.” When it comes to chess, he has a move to victory against Vladimir Duthiers already. Pawn to E 4 is the movie newsman's mind, even before he thinks of it, predicts the prodigy.

This chess player has a secure future in family, faith, and tender humility that will sustain him through any turns and surprising moves through life.

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