NEW YORK (PIX11) — Tani Adewumi will beat you blindfolded. The 13-year-old chess prodigy is on his way to becoming one of the youngest grandmasters in history. And he wants to get there before ninth grade.

“Cause when I go to high school, a lot of homework, a lot of work. It’s gonna be quite taxing,” Adewumi said.

Adewumi’s love for chess developed while living in a New York City homeless shelter. That’s where his family landed after fleeing religious persecution from suspected members of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Adewumi joined the chess club at school and became the New York State chess champion in less than a year at just 8 years old.

“It feels good. It feels comfortable to play chess. It’s creative. There’s a lot of ideas that’s still to be figured out,” Adewumi said.

Matthew Ingber, a partner at Mayer Brown, heard Adewumi’s story. His firm worked pro bono to keep the family in the country and allow Adewumi to play in chess tournaments abroad.

“I heard about this young boy who wanted to be a grandmaster and couldn’t travel, and that’s in part why getting asylum, or getting a grant of asylum, was so important,” said Ingber.

The firm invited Adewumi and his dad, Kayode, to their Manhattan offices to play against staff members, whom Tani all beat easily.

When PIX11 News asked, “How many games of chess do you think you’ve played?”

“Mmm.. maybe like 50,000. 50,000? Yeah,” Adewumi answered.

Adewumi has become a chess celebrity, meeting Former President Bill Clinton and receiving a signed letter from President Joe Biden. 

He plays every day, and he has a strategy with his more challenging opponents.

“I look at my opponents’ games, see what they’re playing and then prepare for that,” said Adewumi. “Maybe like 30 minutes before the game, not much, like maybe push-ups or something.”