"Fat and Useless" - Just another reminder about civility and respect

Words and actions can have a negative impact in many young girls’ lives

"Fat and Useless!"

Earlier today, a former executive of a major national chess federation called me fat and useless, as well as other words I cannot re-publish publicly. This was a part of an email he sent to a bunch of his male buddies, some of whom also held high positions in chess.

One of them decided to show me that email because he thought the email is despicable. The most disappointing thing for me is a bunch of the people he sent this email to responded with encouragement and support for his position. They thought it is funny. I have not spoken or seen any of the people in this email chain in years. I did nothing, and for sure said nothing, to provoke this insult and attack.

OK, these are just words and I am used to this kind of abuse and harassment in the past 45 years in chess. But during my days as an active chess professional, there were multiple situations where I was very fearful for my life and personal safety, just because I said NO to their sexual advances. This is why I wrote this article to explain:

Last night I simply posted a photo of me having dinner with former Women's World Champions Nona Gaprindashvili and Zhu Chen. All I said was we traded stories about the struggles we all faced as women in a male dominated field. End of story. For that, I was insulted by a male chess player. He completely went off the deep end in a long post and he had no idea what we said or discussed. But he stated that I lost him with that "gender card" as a part of any narrative.

I usually let things go. But sometimes I just have to remind my friends and colleagues in chess that there is a real problem in chess when it comes to this issue, and I am not the only one. I choose not to mention names. I do not want to ruin anyone’s life. I just hope that one day they can just “grow up” (even though they are adults right now) and realize that their words and actions can have a negative impact in many young girls’ lives.

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