Yip Becomes Youngest American Female IM Ever
IM-elect Carissa Yip is playing as well as any American junior. Photo: Susan Polgar Foundation.

Yip Becomes Youngest American Female IM Ever

MikeKlein
FM MikeKlein
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46 | Chess Players

With her 5.0/9 score at the 2019 SPICE Cup, which included two draws and a win against grandmasters, Carissa Yip has unofficially become the youngest female international master in U.S. history (pending certification from FIDE).

Her third and final norm came this past weekend at the annual St. Louis event. She had previously crossed 2400 in late summer. At 16 years, one month, and 18 days old, Yip beat the record of now-GM Irina Krush by more than one year.

Carissa Yip
Yip concentrates at the board. (Her entertaining game with GM Illya Nyzhnyk, background left, is featured below.) Photo: Susan Polgar Foundation.

Yip is now running through titles like she's running through tournament wins. The high schooler from Massachusetts began the summer as an FM, and in July made WGM. The ink on the certificate is barely dry, and now the teenager will become an IM.

Just take a look at her last few months. Yip is the chess version of Newton's first law; once she got going no one has been able to slow her down:

  • June 2019: Wins 2019 North American Junior Girls' Championship
  • July 2019: Wins 2019 U.S. Junior Girls' Championship, becomes youngest American WGM
  • August 2019: Earns second IM norm at U.S. Masters Championship
  • September 2019: Becomes highest-rated American female (2425) after picking up 125 points in previous month
  • October 2019: Earns third and final IM norm, becoming youngest American female IM
Carissa Yip
The new IM-elect Yip. "I don't know" must reference when she'll make GM! Photo: Percy Yip.

She seems to have a particular affinity for the state of North Carolina. Her first IM norm came last summer at a norm tournament in Charlotte. Her second came in Greensboro this year at the U.S. Masters, and her North American Junior Girls' Championship was also in Charlotte.

At the SPICE Cup, she made her run in rounds 4-6, scoring two draws and a win against a trio of GMs. Here in round five she spoiled a better position. But later Yip found a study-like win when her opponent, the youngest-ever player to reach 2600, went awry (but with a fantastic idea!).

One round later, Yip played a short but very entertaining draw with the tournament's defending co-champion and this year's top seed, GM Illya Nyzhnyk.

Nyzhnyk would end up needing that half-point. He finished on 6.0/9 in a large tie for second, just behind the tournament's winner, GM Akshat Chandra.

Here are the final standings.

Carissa Yip John Michael Burke
Yip tricked GM John Burke with barely any army left. Photo: Susan Polgar Foundation.

Yip is now the youngest-ever American female to make expert, master, WGM and IM. Since only two American women have made GM, that's the only other record left for her.

One of those two is this tournament's host, GM Susan Polgar, who made the title before transferring to the U.S. The other is Krush, who became a grandmaster at the age of 29, thus giving Yip more than a dozen years to go after that mark.

To follow more of Yip's journey from ChessKid star to the U.S. number-one female, check out her library of videos on ChessKid and also her articles, many of which include self-annotated games.

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