This picture was the beginning of a journey for 8-year-old Tani Adewumi, who became a national sensation. He earned a 3rd International Master norm last Sunday. Photo by Christopher Lee (New York Times).
In November 2021, Tanitoluwa “Tani” Adewumi earned his FIDE Master (FM) title. At the NYC Fall GM/IM Invitational this past weekend at the Hilton Garden Inn (Midtown Park Avenue), he beat GM Mark Paragua in the last round to get an IM performance scoring 5.5/9. It is his third IM norm.
What is impressive about his result is his +2 score against the three Grandmasters he played. Despite this performance and 52-point haul, there is a question of whether he will need yet another IM norm to qualify. The chess community was excited at the initial announcement of Tani getting what would be his third and final norm. However, a new FIDE rule was instituted early this year stating that,
Any title application containing a norm not achieved before 30/06/2022 must include at least one norm from an individual Swiss tournament with every round containing at least forty participants whose average rating is at least 2000.~ FIDE Title Regulations (Section 1.5.6 under Requirements)
The Chess Drum had a chat with Chief Arbiter of the tournament Andre Harding about the norm.
The wording is confusing, but I have been told the Qualification Commission says a Swiss norm is now needed… But I only sign the norm certificate if a norm is earned, I don’t rule on these things
Harding further added,
If FIDE intends for any title applications submitted after June 2022 to contain a Swiss norm with 40+ players, they should make the language of 1.5.6 more clear. The way it’s currently worded is confusing. To me, it seems that any title applications containing a norm earned before June 2022 should be exempt from the Swiss requirement.
Tani’s first norm came at the 2022 Spring Invitational in April and the second at the 2022 Summer Invitational in July. The latest norm would be the 2022 Fall Invitational. Some may interpret the ruling as saying if a player has not achieved a norm before June 30th, 2022, only then will title applications require a norm from an individual Swiss tournament.
Nevertheless, he will also need to get the 2400 rating to have the IM title conferred. His live FIDE rating is now over 2300 with just less than 100 Elo points to gain. His USCF rating is now 2396 when last year (around this time) it was 2266.
Tanitoluwa Adewumi continues to climb.
Photo by Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation
Previously, Tani has mentioned breaking the age record for the Grandmaster title. That record is currently owned by Abhimanyu Mishra (12 years, four months, and 25 days). Tani will have only until January 28, 2023 to break the record. That aside, becoming a Grandmaster without any other labels attached would be magnificent. Tani stands a good chance to earn the title and his feat would be quite a lesson for the ages.
Tani has been very active in his pursuit of chess excellence. He has competed in a wide variety of events, but more importantly, has kept a steady flow of norm tournaments on his schedule. In January, he competed in chessdotcom’s “Puzzle Rush” world championship. Back in April, he successfully defended his Fairfield County Championship in Fairfield, Connecticut. More recently he won the annual “Chess in the Park” rapid championship.
Tani is becoming one of the most visible talents on the American chess scene and is also a fixture at ChessKid.com. His remarkable rise is a testament to what opportunity can do when matched with talent. His parents Kayode and Oluwayoyin Adewumi and brother Austin have supported him along the way. He also has many mentors and coaches helping him at various phases. Then… there are his chess supporters. The Chess Drum has covered his progress since the story broke and has reported on his important milestones. Let us hope that Tani’s journey will one day lead to the coveted GM title.