WFM Jennifer Yu is well on her way to chess stardom after her recent gold medal at the 2014 World Youth Chess Championship in South Africa -- the only U.S. gold in the event and the first world title for an American girl since 1987.
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 13-year-old lives in Ashburn, Virginia and is a pretty typical eighth-grader, aside from her immense chess talent. Her well-rounded interests include playing the flute and piano, listening to music, drawing, and playing sports. Though she practices chess at least one hour per day and Skypes with Grandmaster Larry Christiansen for lessons, she ultimately 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 2166 and has participated in three World Youth Chess Championships, including last year’s gold medal event. At 10, she came in 11th place at the 2012 World Youth Championship in Slovenia, and in 2013 she placed fourth in the United Arab Emirates.