Jessica Hyatt, 15-year-old on tract to become first Black woman chess master

Chess Champ Jessica Hyatt
Jessica Hyatt, 15, is on track to become the first Black woman chess master in the world. – Photos courtesy of


Brooklyn, N.Y. – At the age of 15, Jessica Hyatt has already been awarded a $40,000 college scholarship. Moreover, she is on track to become the first Black woman chess master in the world.

Jessica, who is one of the top 10 Black female chess players in the United States, recently received the prestigious Daniel Feinberg Succes in Chess Award that comes with a $40,000 college scholarship.

“I play whenever I get the chance, like in my free time, like during my classes, like sometimes during classes,” Jessica told CBS News, noting that she plays at least 5 to 7 hours a day.

Jessica is currently a sophomore at Success Academy, a school known for its exceptional chess program. Five years ago, she met her coaches Tyrell Harriott and David Mbonu, who are both national masters, the highest level in the U.S.

To become a chess master, a 2,200 ranking must be achieved. Jessica is already 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 Harriot.

With that, she is hoping to become the first Black female chess master.

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

After achieving her current goal, Jessica dreams of attending college at MIT and plans to teach chess to other children as well.

Due to the pandemic, Jessica has had to continue honing her skills by playing chess online. Her mother, Loy Allen, has been very supportive of her and hopes other young children of color get inspired by her story.

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


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