Grandmaster Yu Wins National Title

One Step Closer to International Master

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Grandmaster Yu Wins National Title

Sravani Sunkara, Editor-in-chief

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Seventeen-year-old Jennifer Yu won the US Women’s Chess Championship with an impressive 10/11 record last weekend in St. Louis. Not only did she become the first teenager to clinch the first-place title since 2000, but she also did so with near perfection and with one round to spare, which makes her victory all the more noteworthy.

Her path to the coveted title was nearly flawless. She conceded only two draws and was able to secure her victory in the penultimate round. That round’s win put her a staggering 2.5 points above the runner-up, giving her room to play the last round as a victory lap.

“It was a lot of pressure because I was playing one of the strongest people in the tournament and she was playing super well,” Yu explained. “But after some complications, she missed a few tactics and had to make concessions, so I won.”

Italian-American chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana commented on her victory. At 14, Caruana became the youngest grandmaster in the history of both Italy and the United States. As a player with his level of experience, he knows a thing or two about clutch wins.

“Today she showed she’s really a champion. To win at the most critical moment is a skill that few people have!” Caruana exclaimed.

Yu’s chess career started out just as many others have — in an elementary school chess club. She started playing bigger tournaments after she moved to Virginia in 2011. Her first world youth chess championship was in 2012  in Slovenia.

She’s had her fair share of experience in big tournaments like that one, having participated in the World Youth Chess Championship and US Women’s Chess Championship multiple times.

“I’ve had a couple good world tournaments,” Yu said. “I won the world championships for girls 12 and under in South Africa in 2014, got bronze at world juniors in 2017, and got an individual bronze medal at the Olympiad in 2018.”

Her victory in South Africa was laudable, as she was the only U.S. gold medal in the event and became the first American girl of her age group to win a world title since 1987.

Despite this commendable record, Yu was not expecting much coming into the tournament.

“I haven’t done too well in US Champs before because I always go in super rusty, so I bomb the first half and come back in the second,” Yu said. “I actually played high school nationals right before it and did badly.”

However, her luck turned around, and she was able to perform extremely well this tournament.

The title did not come alone — the first-place prize was $25,000. Yu hasn’t yet decided what she will do with the money, but she is leaning towards saving it for college tuition.

Her chess

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