Teenage Chess Champion Looks To Become First Black Female Chess Master


A Black teenage chess champion from Brooklyn, New York is looking to make history as first Black female chess master. Fifteen-year-old Jessica Hyatt is ranked among the top 10 Black female chess players in the US, and has already been awarded the Daniel Feinberg Success in Chess Award which includes a $40,000 college scholarship. 

“I play whenever I get the change, like in my free time, like during my classes, like sometimes during classes,” Jessica told CBS New York. Her chess playing time amounts to about five to seven hours a day and gets to play at her school which has a chess program. 

At 15, she has a rating of 1,950 and needs 2,200 to become a chess master. 

“There has never been a female Black player to break the master ranking and that’s what Jessica is going for,” David Mbonu, a National Master who’s worked with Jessica, said. 

“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,’” Mbonu said, recalling the first time he met a typically very quiet Jessica. 

Amid the pandemic, Jessica has been playing chess online but is determined to reach her goal. With the support of her mom, Loy Allen, Jessica hopes to get there soon. 

“If you kid’s passionate enough about it, have them go for it because the sky’s the limit, right?” Allen told the outlet. 

In addition to becoming a chess master, Jessica has hopes to attend MIT and plans on teaching chess to youth in her neighborhood. 

Photo: Getty Images