After the news concerning Grandmaster Chess player Alejandro Ramirez
hit the fan this writer decided to not touch it with a pole of any length. My thinking was changed after reading something at Chess.com earlier today, a day spent reading any and everything found on the matter. Before writing readers must be informed of from where this writer is coming.
I have two sisters. It was instilled in me at a young age that they were to be protected at all costs. I was the oldest child, and as a male it was up to me to protect my sisters. One night the sister born after me came home crying because her boyfriend had run her new yellow Mustang, and her, off of the road. With Mother begging me to stay I was out of the door in a heartbeat, looking for a fight. Long story short, the culprit was located and word got around that there would be a fight at South Park. Boys and girls began piling into vehicles and heading to SP. They came from Mickey D’s and Shoney’s to park at the gravel parking lot, and on the street, as there were too many vehicles for the parking lot.
The boy my sister had been dating was a big, hulking dude, much larger than me, but he was not the first boy to approach. That would be the older brother of one of the players on my team at the Boy’s Club. He did not like the way I coached his younger brother, and did not like me. Some of my classmates said it was the best fight they had ever seen because we were about the same size, and both knew how to fight. He went down. I was completely exhausted. I had fought in the Golden Gloves and knew my way around a ring, but still, it took all I had to knock him out.
I was breathing heavily and kneeling on one knee on the gravel parking lot when the big galoot came at me. One of my friends later said he “feared for my life.” As the big fellow approached with an excrement eating grin on his ugly mug, I waited until he got up real close and personal before jumpin’ up with a handful of gravel that was thrust it into his face… Then I kicked him in the groin, and proceeded to, as one onlooker informed my Mother, “beat the shit outta him.” It ended when the police pulled me offa the bleeding jerk. One of the cops said, “You go on home now Michael because Mary is worried about you.”
Some of you reading this may find the above reprehensible and “beyond the pale,” and you may be right…but things were different ‘back in the day’. Today one boy would be dead from a gunshot wound and the other probably spend decades behind bars, so yeah, to my thinking, things were better ‘back in the day’, at least in that respect. Back then it was instilled in me that I was to protect my sisters, and my Mother, no matter what. Women were considered the “weaker” sex. I realize things have changed greatly over the decades and women now serve in the military alongside men, but still…
My favorite librarian, Heather, was kind enough to send me a copy of an article in the Washington Post concerning the allegations against GM Ramirez. The title of the article is: Chess Bodies Failed to Act After Misconduct Allegations — Numerous women have accused U.S. grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez of sexual assault.
His behavior was allegedly an open secret. The authors are Andrew Beaton and Joshua Robinson
The article begins: “When former U.S. women’s chess champion Jennifer Shahade
alleged on social media last month that she had been sexually assaulted by a grandmaster named Alejandro Ramirez, she had no idea it would set off a broad wave of additional allegations. Shahade says she was sexually assaulted twice by Ramirez, one of the most recognizable faces in U.S. chess over the past two decades. Her allegations and others in recent years were reported to top chess bodies, including the U.S. Chess Federation and the St. Louis Chess Club
which failed to act or effectively investigate when learning of them, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.”
Those words, “…the U.S. Chess Federation and the St. Louis Chess Club, which failed to act or effectively investigate when learning of them,” are a scathing indictment of any and everyone connected with both of those organizations. Every person having anything to do with either the StLCC and USCF should be ashamed.
Unfortunately, the article continues, and it gets even worse: “Then after her tweet, messages poured in. Ten other women from the chess community reached out to Shahade to say they had also been assaulted or harassed by him, according to texts and direct messages the Journal reviewed. The allegations represent a stunning turn for Ramirez, 34, who was once the second-youngest grandmaster in the world and the first from Central America to earn the title. Ramirez, born in Costa Rica, switched to representing the U.S. in 2011. He has also coached, mentored younger players and built a profile as a commentator. In interviews with the Journal, eight women accused Ramirez of wrongdoing, saying that he used his status in chess to put himself in positions of influence and make repeated unwanted sexual advances toward them since 2011. Ramirez, they said, became physically aggressive as he forcibly kissed and groped them without their consent. Three were under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged incidents, including one who said Ramirez supplied her with vodka before he coerced her into performing oral sex.“
The remainder of the Washington Post article follows with pertinent parts highlighted by this writer:
“On Monday, two days after being presented with a detailed list of the allegations against him by the Journal, Ramirez issued a press release through his attorney saying that he had resigned from his roles at the St. Louis Chess Club and as coach of the St. Louis University chess team because the investigations now being run by U.S. Chess and the club had become a “negative distraction.”
Albert Watkins, Ramirez’s attorney, didn’t comment on specific allegations, saying he had been directed to respect the confidentiality of the investigative undertakings. “In this era of introspection and sensitivity to all matters ‘Me Too’ related, Ramirez remains very supportive of those who seek to raise issues of concern about anyone,” Watkins wrote in an email.
Allegations about Ramirez’s conduct have been known to top chess bodies — including the U.S. Chess Federation the St. Louis Chess Club, the global hub for the game backed by billionaire Rex Sinquefield
— for several years. A lawyer for the St. Louis Chess Club wrote in a 2021 letter that it was aware of Shahade’s allegation in 2020. In 2021, the club and U.S. Chess were informed of allegations against Ramirez, according to interviews and documents reviewed by the Journal. Ramirez was nonetheless tapped to coach the U.S. women’s team at the World Chess Olympiad in 2022. Ramirez is now being investigated by the U.S. Chess Federation and the St. Louis Chess Club, where he was a resident grandmaster. He was removed from coaching St. Louis University’s chess team on Feb. 16, the school said, the day after Shahade’s tweet. Ramirez was also taken off the Athletes’ Commission of FIDE, chess’s world governing body, pending the U.S. Chess probe. “The University takes matters of sexual harassment and misconduct very seriously and has robust policies and procedures in place to respond to any report it receives,” St. Louis University said in a statement. The organizations that oversee the game continued to place Ramirez in roles that often involved working closely with women, even after first learning about allegations about him. “I was concerned that there was a clear and present danger that he could have interactions with girls and women,” Shahade said of her decision to go public. St. Louis Chess Club didn’t respond to specific questions about its knowledge of the allegations. After the Journal’s inquiries, the club said in a statement that it accepted Ramirez’s resignation on Monday and that it has no further comment on this employment matter. Ramirez was the club’s highest-paid employee in 2018 and 2019, according to its tax returns. The U.S. Chess Federation referred to a statement dated Feb. 15 in which it said it was “aware that one of its employees has made serious allegations about a member of the chess community” and had opened an investigation, without naming Ramirez. Shahade, a 42-year-old women’s grandmaster, said she was sexually assaulted by Ramirez twice. In the more recent of the two incidents, in 2014, she said they were at a small gathering in St. Louis when, at a moment when no one else was around, he “slammed” her against the wall and forcibly kissed her. Shahade said she confronted Ramirez in October 2020 when he was set to serve as a commentator with her on the U.S. junior girls championship. After telling the club, she said they told her to call him and deal with the matter. A message reviewed by the Journal shows she contacted him the day of the opening ceremony, when he was among the planned commentators. Shahade said that, during a phone call, Ramirez immediately agreed to step down from the commentary role that October. She also said he later called back and apologized for his behavior with her. Videos show he didn’t serve as a commentator at the tournament.
In 2020, Shahade said she also spoke with U.S. Chess officials about Ramirez’s alleged behavior. Shahade has served as the woman’s program director for U.S. Chess since 2018. In 2021, Greg Shahade, Shahade’s brother and a high-level player, contacted St. Louis Chess Club and U.S. Chess to inform them of Ramirez’s alleged behavior, according to emails reviewed by the Journal. Two months later, a letter came back from a lawyer representing the club, acknowledging that it had heard about the allegations in October 2020. The letter said they weren’t aware of any inappropriate conduct by Ramirez. It further said that the club was not the proper party to review and investigate the matters he raised.”
The Chess world has a BIG PROBLEM. How is it possible this serial lecher was able to get away with this reprehensible behavior for over a DECADE? How did he manage to keep his position at the St. Louis Chess Club during all that time? Did the allegations fall on deaf ears, or were the MEN involved unconcerned, or uncaring about what was happening? What did Rex Sinquefield know and when did he know it?
Chess has reached a point where multitudes of female players, mostly young girls, have taken up the Royal Game, which is great for Chess because their parents spend unbelievable amounts of money joining organizations, such as the United States Chess Federation, and state organizations. Chess tournaments are filled with female players these daze, most of whom drop out around puberty, only to be replaced by other girls, who pay and play until puberty hits and they, too, drop out of the world of Chess. Those who derive their income from the game must be in a state of fearful shock about now, knowing that something like this could put a stop to the golden goose. Those in charge of Chess should have gotten “in front of this” but instead decided to stay behind it, hoping it would just “go away.” If the Chess world cannot protect the women it is time for a Chess reckoning.