At 12, Ashburn’s Jennifer Yu wins world chess title, first U.S. girl to do so in 27 years
By Tom Jackman
Although Jennifer Yu started playing chess in first grade in California, her parents didn’t pay much attention to her progress. “My husband and I did not take her chess learning seriously at all,” said her mother, Yan Zhang, “and did not support her much other than taking her to a weekly group lesson and occasional tournaments for kids.”
But shortly before her family moved to Northern Virginia in 2011, Jennifer’s coach took her parents aside. “Jennifer is really talented and has huge potential,” he told them. “You have to find her a coach over there” in Virginia.
They did. And Jennifer’s talent blossomed. Then last month in Durban, South Africa, the 12-year-old Ashburn resident became the first American girl in 27 years to win a title at the World Youth Chess Championship, going undefeated in 11 matches. She is rated a “national master” by the U.S. Chess Federation and, according to chess expert and grandmaster Susan Polgar, Jennifer is probably one of the top 500 chess women in the world. At 12.
…Interesting as in starting to win tournaments beginning in 2011, then in 2012 sharing the national championship for girls 10 and younger. Her first win was at a tournament in Phoenix run by Polgar, who has been pushing for more girls and women to succeed in chess.
“Chess is still largely male-dominated,” said Polgar, who runs the Susan Polgar Chess Institute of Excellence at Webster University and was the first woman to earn a men’s grandmaster title. She has coached four straight men’s collegiate national champion teams. In the case of Yu’s victory, she said, the United States sent “a delegation of over 70 kids [to the world championships] and she was the only one to win the gold, so that’s really remarkable.”
Records show, and Polgar confirmed, that Jennifer was the first American girl to win a youth world title since 1987. “So we’re getting there, slowly but surely,” she said.
Full article here.