At the tender age of just 4, Jehron Bryant, now a 15-year-old Valley Stream Central High School sophomore, began learning chess.
Under the direction of his father, Derrick, he was armed with the precision and skills that not many youngsters have the patience to master. In addition, Jehron developed a passion for the game — a key ingredient in his formula for success, and perhaps a huge motivator for his latest achievement, the rank of National Chess Master.
It is one of the highest titles in chess that someone can reach, and less than 1 percent of chess players even come close to earning this honor. “To do it at only age 15 is more than an accomplishment,” Jehron said.
The road to getting this top honor was not easy. Jehron’s strategy was to follow a daily study schedule — a task that he was determined to stick with until achieving this top rank. When other teenagers would play outside with friends, he was studying and working hard. And while he still found some time to play sports and hang out with friends, most of his energy went to studying chess strategies and play.
His studying made a difference, he added. “The phrase ‘hard work pays off,’ has been justified with my title,” he said.
He first got a lesson in patience, endurance and hard work from his dad, who would teach the names and values of the different chess pieces. His father also found innovative ways to teach Jehron and his brother, Nigel, everyday when they were younger. “I make every time fun,” Derrick Bryant said. “I taught them that if you’re good at anything, you have to put effort into it.”
Jehron recalled a unique way that he first got acquainted with chess. “My dad had this cool-looking ninja set,” he said. “My brother and I loved those pieces when were younger and every chance we got would try to play with them.”
By the age of 8, he really began to understand the game’s strategy. Since then, he has conquered much of the chess world. He also has come a long way from his days of first being intrigued by people playing chess at the park. He has earned the titles of New Jersey Elementary Champion in 2007, and New York Cities co-champion and Chess in the Parks champion in 2010, among other notable honors.
Despite all his success, he remains humble and truly grateful. Playing chess has brought patience, humility, wisdom, “irreplaceable” friendships, and taken him to many places that he never thought were possible to go, he said. “I love chess so much because it has taught me many essentials I need in life,” Jehron said.
And because he loves chess, the honor of chess master meant more than words could even express. To put it simply, it means everything to him, he said. What also means a lot is the love and support from his family and friends.
Derrick Bryant is very proud of his son, who achieved this title at such a young age. “It takes hard work, lots of time, effort and studying,” he said, adding that Jehron is very determined and always keeps his grade point average above 90.
Jehron said he now has his sight set on the highest chess title there is — grandmaster. He plans to get there soon, but is proud of his achievements so far. “Sometimes, I overlook my accomplishments and it feels like I haven’t done anything that special,” he said, “but when I get a phone call or a text message saying, ‘Congratulations, I’m so proud of you,’ it just makes everything all worth it.”