This New York Teen Won A $40K Scholarship After Being Crowned Chess Champion

This New York Teen Won A $40K Scholarship After Being Crowned Chess Champion

Jessica Hyatt
Image via @jessicahyattt/Instagram

Chess is a complicated game to master but that hasn’t stopped one New York teenager from her goal of becoming one of the greatest chess masters in the world. Last week, 15-year-old Brooklyn teen Jessica Hyatt got that much closer to her dream after becoming one of the top Black female chess players in the country.

Hyatt was awarded the Daniel Feinberg Success in Chess Award that came with a $40,000 college scholarship. The high school sophomore, who attends the Success Academy known for its chess program, says she plays chess whenever she can and has a genuine love for the game.

“I play whenever I get the chance, like in my free time, like during my classes, like sometimes during classes,” Hyatt told CBS New York and went on to say that she on average spends five to seven hours every day practicing. According to, for a woman to become a grandmaster they need a rating of 2,300. Right now, Hyatt rates at 1,950. 

Tyrell Harriott and David Mbonu, both also national chess masters and the coaches responsible for training Hyatt, say that Hyatt had a natural talent from the beginning when she achieved such a high rating at an early age. “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 to CBS New York. “There has never been a Black woman player to break the master ranking and that’s what Jessica is going for.”