From her mother, Waverly inherits her “invisible strength”—her ability to conceal her thoughts and strategize. Although she applies these to chess as a child, she later turns them on her mother, Lindo, as well, imagining her struggles with her mother as a tournament.

Waverly’s focus on invisible strength also contributes to a sense of competitiveness: she feels a rivalry with Jing-mei and humiliates her in front of the others at Suyuan’s New Year’s dinner. Yet Waverly is not entirely self-centered: she loves her daughter, Shoshana, unconditionally. Nor is she without insecurities: she fears her mother’s criticism of her fiancé, Rich. In fact, it seems that Waverly tends to project her fears and dislikes onto her mother. As she sits through dinner with her parents and Rich, she becomes distraught as she imagines her mother’s growing hatred of her fiancé. Yet, later on, she realizes that her mother in fact likes Rich—Waverly was the one with the misgivings, perhaps a sort of cultural guilt: Rich is white, and Waverly does not like to think that she has lost her ties to her Chinese heritage.