SLU Chess Coach Resigns Amid Sexual Abuse Investigations


Sinquefield Chess Commons located in Morrissey Hall at Saint Louis University. (Ulaa Kuziez/The University News)

Saint Louis University chess coach Alejandro Ramirez resigned on Monday, March 6 after eight women accused him of sexual misconduct, including three who said they were underage at the time.

Ramirez, 34, had led the SLU chess club since 2016. He denies the allegations.

Two-time U.S. women’s chess champion Jennifer Shahade, 42, accused Ramirez of two instances of sexual assault in a tweet on Feb. 15, 2023. SLU placed Ramirez on leave the next day. Since Shahade’s tweet, seven other accusers have come forward with incidents of alleged abuse, some as young as 15 at the time. The most recent accusations, detailed in a March 7 report in The Wall Street Journal, stem from 2014.

“A lot of that work to make chess more inclusive is futile if we cannot make crystal clear the safety of women, girls, children is of the highest priority,” Shahade wrote in her initial tweet. “And that’s why I’m speaking out now.”

In a statement, Ramirez said the investigations were “a negative distraction” and his continued employment was “not presently in the best interests of the Club.”

 The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Chess Federation and Saint Louis Chess Club had known about accusations for several years. Both organizations have now opened investigations into Ramirez. In addition to leaving the SLU chess team, Ramirez also announced he was leaving the Saint Louis Chess Club.

“Mr. Ramirez resigned his affiliation with the Saint Louis Chess Club in all respects on Mar. 6, 2023,” the Saint Louis Chess Club said in a statement to “The Saint Louis Chess Club accepted his resignation on March 6, 2023. This action effectively ends his role as coach of the Chess Team at Saint Louis University. The Saint Louis Chess Club has no further comment regarding this employment matter.”

 Ramirez has retained attorney Al Watkins, known for high-profile cases, including Jacob Chansley, the Jan. 6 rioter dressed in fur and face paint, and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis lawyer photographed outside his home with a rifle in front of Black Lives Matter protesters. In a statement to, Watkins said he was worried about the role of social media, specifying the #MeToo movement as a concern.

“At some point we are all compelled to take pause and reflect on the reality that unsubstantiated, temporally aged, and concurrent use of social media to incite a ‘Me Too’ call-to-arms runs afoul of every constitutional safeguard we have always held so dear,” Watkins said. “Superimposing today’s mores on erroneous recitals of acts of yesteryear is a recipe for disaster for both the accused and the accuser.”

A grandmaster since age 15, Ramirez was brought to SLU and the Saint Louis Chess Club as part of an effort to make St. Louis an internationally recognized chess hub. His resignation comes as the St. Louis chess world finds itself in another scandal—World No. 1 grandmaster Magnus Carlsen accusing the young player Hans Niemann of cheating during a match at the Sinquefield Cup in September, where Niemann won in a major upset. Ramirez oversaw the cup and was frequently interviewed in the media about the ensuing controversy.

In early April, SLU’s chess team will compete in the President’s Cup, the highest level of collegiate chess competition at Webster University. After winning last year’s cup with Ramirez, SLU will look to defend their title under an interim coach, the University announced.