A prodigy refers to anything extraordinary and in this case, we look at prodigies in Nigerian chess. These kids have been dubbed “child wonders” because of their extraordinary abilities on the chessboard. Without a doubt, they inspire their peers and parents to their peers to join the chess community and grow the chess culture in Nigeria. Our list of prodigies is based on players that are 18 years of age and below. The following are 10 Nigerian talents to watch;
He is a 10-year old rising star and a member of the Brain Chess Academy. This young talent is certainly one to look out for in the coming years. Lichess ID: Kevin1500
The fascinating fact about this player is his highly precocious cognitive abilities. He has a few tournament appearances; along with quite some impressive performances. One that quickly catches the eye, this potential master is one to look out for in the coming years. A member of the Brain Chess Academy, he’s also impressively rated 1400+ on Lichess which calls for applause for a child his age. Lichess ID: Jiajayi2012
He is another promising young talent that has gradually been rising through the ranks. He has a lot of training experience with good coaches and can certainly expect more from this young superstar who is currently also a member of the Brain Chess Academy. Lichess ID: Goldranger4
This outstanding Benue-based talent has a notably fierce desire for chess. His hunger to win and improve requires maximum support. He has been exposed to tournament experiences both offline and online with Rapid and Classical time controls. He’s also surrounded by great coaches. This 8-year old is rated 1500+ on both rapid and classical on Lichess.org. So it’s safe to say this young champ is certainly one to keep on the radar. Lichess ID: Prodigyfarouq
This 18-year old talent loves to play the Grunfeld Defense because of the idea of undermining the centre squares. He aims to achieve a FIDE title someday and also get some experience in the Chess Olympiads. He dreams big, and we would love to see him achieve his goals. Lichess ID: Matanadebayo
Ebalu Oko-Odion Jed
Despite being so young, this young talent has graced many chess tournaments and with a stellar performance on most occasions. This talent has earned his right to be called a child wonder. Also a member of the Brain Chess Academy, Jed is certainly a 10-year old prospect that is ready to take the future by storm. Lichess ID: Jedjunior
Ebalu Oko-Odion Deron
A 13-year old rising star with a burning passion for chess. Having good performances in various tournaments, this starlet is enrolled in the Brain Chess Academy along with other highly-gifted prodigies like himself. Currently rated a mind-boggling 1900+ on Lichess, this player is fluffing his wings and getting ready to soar remarkably high in the world of chess. Lichess ID: Deronking
Boss Baby, as he is popularly known, is a player that has dedicated so much to chess and at such a young age, the sky is the limit. At just 11 years of age, Goodness has dominated almost all national Under category tournaments he has participated in. Consecutive national U10 tournament victories and one needn’t a soothsayer to reveal that this is a superstar in the making. He is currently the most decorated U14 player in Nigeria because he wins practically every tournament he appears in and with 19 medals (17 Gold and 2 Silver) to back up his sheer dominance.
Adding to his already sparkling resume, he represented Ogun state along with his brother, Perez and Ebalu Deron to claim Gold as a team while also claiming an individual Silver on his board. A plausible rating of 2000+ on Lichess and we can’t afford to take our eyes off this one. Lichess ID: Goodness007
Older brother to the exceptional Goodness, it’s glaringly obvious that this player would possess similar exemplary dominance in the Nigerian junior chess category. At just 15 years of age, he has (uncertain) claimed 9 medals (7 gold, 2 silver) which goes without saying that this prodigy is well on course to taking Nigerian chess to greater heights. With lots of tournament experiences already, one being the National youth festival where he won a Gold with his team and a Silver on his board, Ekunke Perez has earned the eye of the chess community in the nearest future. Lichess IDs: Perez007, perezyekunke
Of course, this is quite a popular name for many already in terms of Nigerian Juniors. At just 18 years of age, Isaac has reached very impressive heights, a notable one being his performance at the African Juniors Championships where he sealed a very impressive third-place finish even though, it was his very first appearance in the tournament. He’d take encouragement from this great performance and come again stronger.
Competing with those at the very top of Nigerian chess in both online and offline tournaments, this superstar has already caught the eye of many. Rated 2135 among the country’s active players, Isaac Okeke ranks 23rd in the nation as of July 2021 and just like you suspected, number 1 among the Nigerian Juniors. Isaac aims to be the number 1 player in the country and of course, achieve a Grandmaster title with a rating that breaks into the top 500 in the world. Big goals that we have no doubt he’d achieve. He also aims to play a crucial role in the development of Nigerian chess. Lichess ID: Nextlevel4naija, Naijakid
Other notable mentions of promising talents in Nigeria are the Osadebes, Alagao Kere amongst others. All these players participated in the CPAN chess league with many of them being a part of the Brain Chess Academy. With many of the above testifying to the benefits of chess such as improvement in cognitive skills that breeds improvement in academics such as mathematics, it is advisable to the general Nigerian community to build and invest more into the chess community due to its numerous perks.
Supplied with an adequate level of resources and guidance, these young talents are capable of elevating Nigerian chess to the competitive level it’s meant to be because talent cannot bloom without hard work.
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Oji Matthew (Em_Oji)
Abidogun Peter (Peterovski)
Okeke Isaac (Nextlevel4Naija)
Adebayo Matan (Matanadebayo)