US Chess President lashes out at victims and their allies
September 18, 2023 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Earlier this year we talked about the Me Too Movement hitting the world of Chess. Here is a depressing update.

Since then another prominent GM, Timur Gareyev has been suspended for alleged violations going back years. US Chess has also released a list of 27 players who are currently sanctioned by the organization; only two of which are accused of violating the "Safe Play Guidelines". Tournament Directors have been forced to take "Safe Play" training at their own expense. In August following more reports of harassment and issues at tournaments, (a major free chess website has ended its cooperation with US Chess. This was followed by Jen Shahade resigning her position as head of US Chess after attempting to push for change from within since her tweet back in Feb.

This week things got heated on line when the President of US Chess, Randy Bauer launched a tirade on Facebook in response to a comment by the head coach of the New Jersey based chess team -- The Garden State Passers. More details on the teams' blog on the their website.

An online petition has been started to pressure the head of US Chess to step down.
posted by interogative mood (16 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Burn it all down.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:58 PM on September 18 [6 favorites]

Randy served as Iowa's State Budget Director for nearly seven years, and serves as a director for pfm, in a role that seems to be tax evasion specialist.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:02 PM on September 18 [4 favorites]

Jennifer Shahade knew what she was up against when she started this, and it's good to see her righteous anger still pushing her forward.
posted by clawsoon at 4:18 PM on September 18 [5 favorites]

I didn't realize Shahade was involved! She wrote an excellent book in 2005 about being a top woman player in chess. It's full of interesting insights into how gender affects the career of top chess players but does not, IIRC, have any direct description of sexual assaults. It's a great book, definitely recommend it if you're interested in her career or women in chess. She's also written a different 2022 book I have not read.
posted by Nelson at 4:34 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]

Chess has become a big part of my life as I’ve become middle aged, weekly classical games at a local club and a couple of tournaments a year have become an anchor point for me in terms of community and socialization. I am really struggling with these revelations and the failure of the organization to do anything. I can’t play the kind of slow, classical chess I enjoy in the US without being a member of US Chess. Yet I can’t be a part of an organization that behaves this way.
posted by interogative mood at 4:43 PM on September 18 [10 favorites]

Bauer seems confused about which shut-down-the-allegations playbook he's trying to follow. Organizations that want to cover up abuse are often very successful at responding to victims in a way that clearly signals they're not going to do anything, which discourages the victims from filing a formal complaint. What's the point, if you already know the organization isn't going to do anything about it?

And then when someone brings it up later, the organization says, "They didn't file a formal complaint, obviously the victim didn't think it was serious enough to file a complaint/we can't start the process without a formal complaint/I assume you understand that if somebody had called US Chess and alleged you did something inappropriate, we wouldn't take action against you without an investigation and a written complaint."

But Shahade is, like, "What you're doing is badgering me about the timing of the SIXTH time I warned you about the situation," and Bauer's rolling out of the old anti-victim playbook is ridiculous.

But anyway, he has "equity and social justice" in his Twitter bio, so I'm sure he'll do a fine job handling all this. /s
posted by clawsoon at 4:51 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]

I felt very sad reading Jen's letter. Makes you wonder if fighting back is even worth it. :(
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:34 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]

Makes you wonder if fighting back is even worth it. :(

It sounds like she's going to keep fighting, she's just not going to try to keep fighting from inside the organization. And her work has already exposed two predators, and made the issue impossible to ignore for chess players and fans. A lot more people who organize chess clubs are going to be thinking seriously about how they make sure their clubs are safe. The USCF can stonewall and claim it has never done anything wrong for as long as it wants to, but that won't diminish what Shahade has already accomplished.
posted by clawsoon at 6:26 PM on September 18 [7 favorites]

The Go/Baduk/Weiqi world seems less misogynistic. Plus it's a better game. I'm not biased at all.
posted by neonamber at 10:00 PM on September 18

I can’t play the kind of slow, classical chess I enjoy in the US without being a member of US Chess.

More than happy to play as much correspondence chess as you feel moved to on Lichess. Same username over there.
posted by flabdablet at 11:33 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]

More than happy to play as much correspondence chess as you feel moved to on Lichess. Same username over there.

Yeah same. I suck tho. flabdablet can attest.
posted by Think_Long at 6:02 AM on September 19

Metafilter: Here is a depressing update.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:20 AM on September 19 [8 favorites]

Think_Long is a solid 1350 player who doesn't suck. I win most of our games because I'm a fairly solid 1650 but every now and then I do something boneheaded and get appropriately punished for it. If Think_Long actually did suck there wouldn't be any fun in it.
posted by flabdablet at 7:39 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]

Flabdablet- I absolutely love this answer. Whatever your rating, unless you are a world champion grand master or whatever, there are folks who play more and less accurately than you; to me it's more about creating interesting questions and answers (moves, replies) for each other during the game, regardless of rating. I used to love playing with a guy at chess club who I beat fairly consistently but he would do really interesting attacks as soon as he was down a piece. I learned a lot playing him. Likewise I used to very much enjoy playing a fellow who consistently clobbered me (except for the occasional lucky break!) because I learned a lot from his thoughtful strategic play.
posted by nzero at 11:21 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]

Remember an Elo rating is just a number designed to make it easy to find opponents who against whom you will be fairly matched. Anyone with a rating is already more skilled than most people. Once you cross 1000 or so you are into probably into the 90th percentile. So you don’t suck at chess. Also as someone who has put a lot of energy into increasing my rating I’ve found that actually you don’t win more often, you just just play more complicated and difficult games. That doesn’t necessarily make the game more enjoyable.

My unique problem is I like to play on a real board, in a room with other people in slow games that last hours and where I am able to be totally disconnected from the world. I enjoy online blitz and bullet but it isn’t the same and play a lot of it; but is isn’t a substitute for classical over the board club chess.
posted by interogative mood at 5:06 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]

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