Can Jennifer Yu Handle Pressure?

WIM Alexy Root has written an apologia for Chessbase for the pitiful performance of Jenifer Yu at the US Junior.

Jennifer Yu’s US Junior Championship: Can research explain her result?
by Alexey Root

“The 2019 U.S. Women’s Chess Champion Jennifer Yu was the wildcard invite for the U.S. Junior Championship which concluded on Saturday, July 20th. She finished last in the 10-player round robin with ½ out of 9. In her post-tournament interview, Jennifer Yu mentioned, “Maybe there is a little more pressure or something.” In this article, WIM ALEXEY ROOT looks at two research-based reasons for the pressure Yu perceived and its possible effects on her result.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/jennifer-yu-s-us-junior-championship-can-research-explain-her-result)

Pressure from “Chess Fans”

“In the words of one ChessBase reader, Yu is “a role model for young women with [her] current title” and her U.S. Junior Championship result “will find its way in future articles/books/essays regarding the relative strength of female vs male players and be fodder for that debate.” Even before the event, some questioned why Yu got the wildcard invite rather than higher-rated boys. One “Chess fan” wrote, “What a terrible pick for wildcard. I want to see the best junior players in the US Junior, male or female. It’s a shame the wildcard wasn’t used to reward another 2500+ Junior.”
Despite her chess qualifications, then, Yu perhaps felt pressure on her from some chess fans.”

The paragraph that caused me to write this post:

“According to “Checkmate? The role of gender stereotypes in the ultimate intellectual sport,” women perform 50% worse than expected when they know they are playing against men and are reminded of the stereotype that men are considered better and more gifted at chess. In the experiment on which the article is based, similarly-rated men and women played two-game matches online, at first without knowing the other player’s gender. In the match where gender was unknown, the women scored 1 out of 2 (the expected score). However, when the men and women were told the gender of their opponent (i.e. the men knew that they were playing women and the women knew that they were playing men), and the women were reminded of the stereotype that men are better at chess than women, the women scored ½ of 2.”

A reader make left this comment:

Ajeeb007

Inadequate sample size, pure speculation and utter nonsense. No need to make it more complex than it is in an effort to assuage the female ego. Yu finished last because she was weaker than most of the other participants and she didn’t catch a break..”
https://en.chessbase.com/post/jennifer-yu-s-us-junior-championship-can-research-explain-her-result#discuss

Ajeeb007 hits the nail on the head. I could not have put it better myself. Chessbase should be ashamed for printing something based upon such a limited sample size.

The best comment was posted “by UncleBent

“Jennifer Yu’s poor result is due to her playing opponents who were much stronger and more experienced vs top competition. If you look at Jennifer’s “career,” she has had little success against the few opponents she has played rated 2450 ELO or higher. Her designation as “wild-card” made her a target, but only because she was one of the lower-rated and, in a RR event, the others knew they had to get a full point from her if they were to have a good tournament result. What is true, is that most, if not all, of her “boy” opponents have spent considerably more time to playing and studying chess. Jennifer mentioned that she has not had a coach for a while, in spite of her weaknesses in opening repertoire and endgame technique. That was evident in her play. This is no longer the era of Capablanca — you can’t succeed against players who are more experienced, higher rated and who have done more preparation. Why Jennifer Yu decided not to hire a coach (with some of her US Women’s Ch prize money) is not my concern. At 17, she has so many wonderful avenues available to her, that I’m not going to criticize he for not studying chess.

Dr. Root’s article is an embarrassing, knee-jerk response. 20 years ago, Irina Krush placed 2nd in the US Junior. The number one reason for her success is that she was also the 2nd highest-rated participant. Playing against “the boys” did not seem to hurt her performance. (In fact one her Irina’s losses was to Jen Shahade.) While there may be merit to under-performance (when females play males), I just don’t think it is at the same level among higher-rated players, who have real achievements and thus more confidence.”
https://en.chessbase.com/post/jennifer-yu-s-us-junior-championship-can-research-explain-her-result#discuss

One thought on “Can Jennifer Yu Handle Pressure?

  1. Michael A Mulford says:

    Would the subject article have even been written if it was a male of the same rating? Probably not. Every tournament has over-achievers and under-achievers, sometimes fairly significantly variant from what their rating would project. If indeed she felt added pressure because of her gender, that’s something she’ll have to learn to deal with. But I agree that simply faced stronger opposition and didn’t catch a break. If they started the tournament again and she prepared for it more thoroughly, I’d expect her to score 3 points plus or minus a point for getting or not getting breaks. For that matter, if she faced the US Women’s Championship field a few times her results would probably average considerably lower than what she did this time around (same thing could have been said for Sam Shankland last year). If you’re in form, catch breaks and are fairly close to the top you have a chance to win a tournament. But you need all three. In this event, Jennifer was near the bottom, caught no breaks and was not in her top form.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.