US Chess Executive Board Statement about American Chess Magazine Article "Due Process, Part II"

Update, 02.20.2024: The below has been updated with a link to the referenced American Chess Magazine article

The US Chess Executive Board has issued the following statement regarding Peter Tamburros article “Due Process, Part II” in the February 2024 issue of American Chess Magazine:

“The previously undisclosed details that Pete Tamburros new American Chess Magazine piece presents are accurate; we affirm that the facts relative to US Chess are supported by the record of written evidence. Mr. Tamburro does not question the truthfulness of any victim of harassment. Neither has US Chess.

“For more than a decade, US Chess has made inclusivity, culture change, and player safety top priorities. Among US Chess initiatives reflecting that commitment are its establishment of Women’s and At-Risk Youth Programs, the 2019 adoption of Safe Play guidelines, the extension to a nationwide Safe Play Policy this year, and the partnership with the U.S. Center for SafeSport. US Chess leadership moved forward on Safe Play long before complaints about GM Alejandro Ramirez were lodged. In its implementation of Safe Play, the federation strives both to protect players and to assure that anyone accused is afforded due process. It has disciplined, and in some cases expelled, those who engaged in inappropriate conduct.

“US Chess leadership believes victims of abuse have the right to decide when, if ever, they share their stories, and US Chess has never questioned any victim’s reasons for delay. But the federation can neither impose discipline based on rumor nor investigate facts that have not been reported. From late 2020, when Jennifer Shahade first mentioned to colleagues at US Chess that shed heard rumors of possible past misconduct by Ramirez, she was consistently urged to report or ask any victims to report facts that could be investigated. In summer 2022, Shahade said in an email that besides the rumors about Ramirez possibly having harassed other women, he even assaulted me once.”  An immediate response expressed sympathy for Ms. Shahades victimization and urged her to come forward with facts about her experience so that US Chess could investigate and take action. 

Ms. Shahade submitted a complaint with concrete factual allegations three months later, on September 14, 2022; two weeks after that, at Shahade’s urging, another woman filed a report. US Chess is grateful for Shahade’s willingness to provide factual testimony and evidence in the investigation that was launched immediately when the complaints were received. The confidential investigation included multiple interviews and the review of evidence by an independent investigator, and it was nearly complete when Shahade’s February 2023 tweet publicly disclosed that an inquiry was underway.

“Mr. Tamburro presents facts and leaves it to each reader to connect the dots and draw their own conclusion. The facts presented counter the narrative that US Chess failed to act or covered up misconduct. We appreciate Mr. Tamburro’s work in doing the deep research and fact-checking responsible journalism requires, and we affirmed the accuracy of the facts when he presented us with what he’d learned through his research. Our focus is, and always has been, on the safety of all in our community. 

“Our goal is not to point fingers but to clear the air so that the whole chess community can continue working together toward culture change and a safer environment. We have zero tolerance for perpetrators of any kind of misconduct. We urge everyone: if you see something, say something, in a factual, investigable report. We are grateful to Mr. Tamburro for having asked the hard questions, learned the facts, and set the record straight. We join him in urging the chess community to avoid the temptation to buy into unsubstantiated rumors that would shift the blame for the serious harm caused by perpetrators either to their victims or to the people working to root out and prevent misconduct.”