Yu was born in Ithaca, New York and started playing chess in first grade, attending an after-school chess class. After the school finished its chess sessions, Yu wanted to continue her interest and asked her parents to find a coach. This simple request launched Yu’s chess career. They took her to group chess lessons and tournaments for kids, but didn’t realize how talented she was until that coach informed them.
Today, the 17-year-old lives in Ashburn, Virginia and is a pretty typical tenth-grader, aside from her immense chess talent. Her well-rounded interests include playing the flute and piano, listening to music, drawing, and playing sports. She becomes a better player through competition in tournaments where she can think through difficult challenges as she encounters them. Yu holds a FIDE rating of 2273 and has participated in three World Youth Chess Championships. In 2014, Yu took home a gold medal at the World Youth Championship in the Girls U12 section. She was the first American to do so in 27 years. She has also won the National Girls Tournament of Champions, three times, and competed on the U.S. Women’s Olympiad team for the first time in 2018.