Jessica Hyatt, a fifteen-year-old sophomore from Brooklyn, NY is excelling at more than her studies. Her strategic genius is propelling her toward becoming the first black woman chess master. She’s knocked out her competition pawn by pawn and just received a $40,000 college scholarship by winning the Daniel Feinberg Success in Chess Award. “Black girl magic” just got a little more magical.
There’s no coincidence that Hyatt’s success shares light with the highly popular Netflix series, “Queen’s Gambit”, a multi-episode series about a young woman chess player breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings. The resemblance between the two stories is remarkable. Right now, Hyatt’s overall score sits at 1950, and each win inches her closer to the chess master score of 2200.
The up and coming chess master says that she practices her craft approximately five to seven hours on a daily basis, and amid the challenges of COVID-19, now conducts her matches online. “I play whenever I get the change, like in my free time and, sometimes, during my classes,” said Hyatt during an interview with CBS Global New York.
Her recent $40,000 scholarship prize, no doubt, is a direct result of the dedicated hours to the game and the support of other black National Chess Masters, like Tyrell Harriott and David Mbonu. “There has never been a female Black player to break the master ranking, and that’s what Jessica is going for,” said Mbonu in an interview with CBS Global New York. The Daniel Feinberg Success in Chess Award recognizes a scholar from elementary, middle, and high school who demonstrates significant progress in chess and reached ambitious rating benchmarks.
At the age of fifteen, Hyatt’s pathway to a National Chess Mastership as the first black woman is well within grasp before she earns her high school diploma.