Jennifer Yu Becomes the First Teen to Win U.S. Women’s Chess Championship in 19 Years

Rising chess star Jennifer Yu has just become the first teen to win the United States Women’s Chess Championships in nearly two decades.

The tournament, held in St. Louis from March 18 to April 1, featured 12 of the best female chess players in America.

After clinching the top spot with a round to spare, the 17-year-old student from Virginia took home the $25,000 prize money, according to the Washington Post.

Two-time U.S. women’s champion Jennifer Shahade praised the young chess champ, ranking her among the nation’s strongest chess players.

“She blew the competition out of the water,” Shahade was quoted as saying.“Her performance is one of the best I’ve ever seen in U.S. women’s championships.”

According to the writer/commentator, Yu won “so many games against professional adults, as well as girls, is just really incredible. Jennifer’s basically playing at the professional, grandmaster level at just 17 years old.”

The last teenager to win the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship was Elina Groberman in 2000.

Yu, who first made headlines in 2014 for becoming the first American girl in 27 years to win a title at the World Youth Chess Championship in the girls 12-and-under group, remains humble with her numerous accomplishments.

“It feels pretty good. I never expected it would happen,” Yu said of her recent victory. “It’s something you dream of but you never actually think you’ll do it.”

Yu reportedly learned to play chess at age seven and began winning tournaments and national competitions in 2011 at age nine.

 

Currently a junior at Stone Bridge High School, the rising chess star practices daily for at least an hour, in addition to juggling homework, physical exercise and playing the piano.

Prior to her recent win, Yu was ranked as No. 14 in the world by the World Chess Federation and 2nd in the U.S. top female players under the age of 18.

Yu is now set to represent the United States in the Women’s World Cup of chess next year.

Meanwhile, GM Hikaru Nakamura took home $50,000 after winning his fifth title at the 2019 U.S. Chess Championships.

Featured image via YouTube/Saint Louis Chess Club

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