There is always a rush of exhilarating excitement among sports enthusiasts whenever there is an emergence of a bright young talent making a breakthrough.

For lovers of chess, Deborah Quickpen is the rave of the moment, an exciting young player who has been dubbed the new chess Queen.

Though her love for chess started when she was just three, Deborah began her professional career at five, when she participated in the NBA Chess Tournament in Lagos.

Fondly known as DebbyQuick among the chess community, the 11-year-old told our correspondent why she chose chess over other sports.

“Chess is different from other sports because it makes me smart, intelligent and standout in everything that I do and that is why I picked it over others,” she said.

The youngster, who won’t turn 12 until June, has won everything in the junior categories while also daring to rub shoulders with some of the elite players despite her young age.

A testament to her talent is her stunning victory over Chess Olympiad gold medal winner IM Odion Aikhoje at the recently concluded National Friends of Chess Blitz tournament in Lagos.

Fresh from her outstanding performance at the African Individual Chess Championship 2024 in Accra, Ghana, where she halted South Africa’s WIM Jesse Nikki‘s winning streak and also had a draw against Egyptian WGM Shahenda Wafa, Quickpen displayed her abilities and skills at the tournament, which held at the Chevron Recreation Centre in Gbagada, Lagos.

“I feel so glad to have been able to compete with some of the best players in the country and finish third. It is a great honour and I hope to keep working hard to achieve my dreams,” she told PUNCH Sports Extra.

Just like a well-scripted movie, Quickpen’s success at a very young age was not accidental as the JSS3 student of Potter’s Touch High School, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, had the support of her parents to play chess, hone skills and develop to become one of the best chess players of her generation, right from when she showed interest in the sport.

In 2018, just a year after she began her career as a chess player, Quickpen, then 6, represented Bayelsa at the National Sports Festival held in Abuja, making her the youngest athlete in the history of the event in Nigeria.

The same year, the youngster again represented Bayelsa at the National Youth Games in Ilorin, Kwara State, where she won a bronze medal.

The Bayelsa-born star’s rise seems to know no bounds after she became the champion of the U-10 Africa Chess Championship at the age of nine.

“The journey has been awesome but the target is to become a Grand Master and I will continue to develop myself to achieve that,” she said.

There is no telling what Quickpen is capable of as she continues to shatter records in front of her.

Last October, at just 11, she made history by becoming the youngest Nigerian national chess champion ever after emerging winner at the 2023 Nigeria Chess Championship. She broke the long-standing record of Oluwatobi Olatunji (now Oloruntola), who won at age 13, on her way to gloryland.

The kid sensation picked her mother and Hungarian-American Susan Polgar as her role models.

“My mum has always been there for me and she has sacrificed a lot to ensure I am what I am today. I can’t imagine any of my success without her because we are almost there together. In chess, Polgar is someone I look forward to because she remains one of the greatest chess players ever,” Quickpen told PUNCH Sports Extra.

Truly, Vera Quickpen, the whizz-kid’s mother, has played a major role in helping the youngster focus on her studies and achieve her chess dreams.

“She does chess during holidays while taking her academics seriously during school hours,” she said.

“Her biggest dream is to become a Grandmaster and medical doctor and own her own chess foundation where children and young ones will learn and become better persons to themselves and to the entire society.”

As she continues to hone her skills and soar higher, DebbyQuick remains a force to reckon with, captivating chess enthusiasts with her strategic brilliance and unwavering passion for the game.

Having shown the stuff she’s made of in Africa in such a quick time, it’s perhaps a matter of time before she wows the entire chess world in the near future