Jessica Hyatt — a Brooklyn chess champion — was just awarded a $40,000 college scholarship with aims to become the first Black woman chess master in the world, according to CBS New York.
Hyatt is currently in the group of top 10 Black women chess players in the nation and dedicates five to seven hours a day playing the game. The 15-year-old is already close to making history as she joins other young Black chess champions, Cabree Myrick and Tanitoluwa “Tani” Adewumi.
“I play whenever I get the chance, like my free time, like during my classes, like sometimes during classes,” said Jessica.
A current sophomore at Success Academy, known for its elite chess program, Jessica’s coaches, David Mbonu and Tyrell Harriott, took a liking to her immediately when they met just five years ago.
“The first thing she did right around when class was over is she walked up to me, and she was like, ‘Can I play you?’ and I remember, I was like, ‘oh,’ said Mbonu. “There has never been a Black woman player to break the master ranking and that’s what Jessica is going for.”
In order to become a chess master, Jessica will have to earn a ranking of at least 2,200. She currently already sits at 1,950.
“I learned the game when I was 15, so for Jessica to be at 1,950, that’s a huge edge,” said Harriott.
Due to the pandemic, Hyatt has been spending most of her time playing the game of chess online and her mother, Loy Allen, hopes Jessica’s story will inspire other young children of color.
“If your kid’s passionate enough about it, have them go for it because the sky’s the limit, right?” said Allen.
Although her first goal of becoming a chess master is on the top of her list, she also plans to apply to college at MIT with the hopes of teaching chess to the kids in her community.