Skip to main content

Once Canada’s top-ranked female player, Yuanling Yuan says chess will continue to provide her many life-long benefits.

“You grow up being comfortable competing in a male-dominated environment,” says 27-year-old Yuan, a vice-president at California-based venture capital firm SignalFire.

Born in Shanghai, she came to Canada at five and learned chess at seven. She spent 35 hours a week studying the game during her elementary school years, and by 14 she was the youngest Canadian ever to earn the international women’s master title.

After high school, she took economics at Yale University and now works in the high-pressure world of venture capital in San Francisco. SignalFire counts companies like Uber and Grammarly among its partners, and Yuan uses skills she learned at the chessboard to analyze investment opportunities.

Pattern recognition is as useful in the investment field as it is in chess, as is the ability to think several steps ahead. But Yuan, who was often the only female in a room filled with male chess players, says the confidence she built up over the years gives her an edge in her chosen field.

Though competitive chess now takes a back seat to her job, she still spends several hours a week coaching young girls in the game.

Yuanling Yuan v Regina Kalaydina, Kitchener, 2009

Handout

What does 15-year-old Yuanling play here as White?

22.Nxf7 and after Kxf7 23.Ng5+ Kf8 24.Qc4 Ne5 25.Nxh7+ White soon won.