Timur Gareyev's Allegations

Timur Gareyev's Allegations

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In June of 2022, Grandmaster Timur Gareyev had his US Chess membership suspended. Not many seemed to take notice, besides small discussions here and there wondering about the reasoning behind his suspension. Maybe he had cheated perhaps? Maybe he made some offensive comments? No one knew besides US Chess and Timur himself. Now, however, the reasoning for being suspended has come to light along with multiple allegations against his name.

The Rise of Timur Gareyev

Timur Gareyev was born on March 3rd, 1988 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan to two parents of Tatar ethnicity. Born in the rich chess country of Uzbekistan, it was inevitable that he would come into contact with chess. At the age of 6, his grandfather taught him how to play chess, and from there, his father encouraged him to hold a habit of playing chess. To him, those were his first chess coaches. Gareyev soon had early success, winning Asian Champion U-14 at 12 years old, and 4 years later at age 16, he became a grandmaster. He decided to not go all in on chess yet, soon enrolling and attending the University of Texas Brownsville. Through Gareyev's time in college, he was able to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business marketing while still staying relatively competitive in chess, competing in events such as the Liberty Open and some National Collegiate events. After college, he continued playing competitive chess, participating in tournaments around the world and even the US Championships in 2013 where he tied for third. Here's a game annotated from a article detailing one of his better games during the 2019 US Championships.

The Blindfold King

Besides being a strong grandmaster, peaking at 2682 FIDE, he is most known to be one of the best blindfold players in the world, even referring to himself as the blindfold king on his website. Gareyeev began doing many blindfold exhibitions, playing against many players at the same time while being unable to view the board. In 2013, he played against 33 players blindfolded at the same time, winning 29 and drawing 4. Later in 2016, he played blindfolded against 35 players, only losing one game, and on December 4th, 2017, Gareyev broke the Guinness world record, playing 48 games blindfolded at the same time. He got so good at blindfold chess that he was taken in by UCLA's Memory Lab to study his brain and he even made the front page of Chess Life in 2017 and 2018.

Aside from his successful on-the-board activities, he began allegedly showing concerning off-the-board behaviors.

The Allegations

June of 2022 was when his US Chess membership had been suspended for an unnamed reason. Around 1 year after Gareyev's suspension, US Chess would release a list of sanctioned players, with Timur's name on the list for "Violations of US Chess Safe Play Guidelines", coincidentally the same explanation for the banning of Alejandro Ramirez. We would only find out the full reasoning on August 10th, 2023 as published an article on their website detailing why they would stop working with US Chess and Saint Louis Chess Club anymore.

The article leaked many allegations against Timur Gareyev and the reasoning for his suspension. The first two allegations came in 2019 when a woman claimed that she was apparently sexually assaulted by Timur Gareyev on her way from the venue back to her car while the other one said Timur assaulted them at the tournament venue.  The woman who claimed to be sexually assaulted on her way back to the car had this to say about her experience.

"Timur spins around quickly, pins my arms to my sides, and tries to kiss me, aggressively. His fingers were digging into my arms. I can not get free. I was turning my head side to side, saying, "No Timur. Stop. I don't want this." I can still feel his beard on both of my cheeks as I am struggling. He said, "But, I just want to …” He was holding my arms with both hands. When he changed his grip, I managed to force him off-balance for a moment and finally pulled away. I guess that I should have raised my knee to kick him, or maybe thrown my head forward to get him to let go. I had no idea that he was that strong. I was not expecting Timur to grab me like that. [...] Everything happened so quickly, but I was powerless to stop it."

The other woman (the one who claimed to have been assaulted at the venue) claimed to have been randomly grabbed and kissed by Timur, shocking her and almost making her fall, while Timur apparently thought it was funny. One of the accusers filed a report to US Chess around that time, most likely the former, as US Chess decided they couldn't take action since it didn't happen at the tournament hotel.  Then, in 2021 another report was filed by another woman, alleging the woman was inappropriately touched by him. He was finally suspended in June 2022, as stated previously.

This was only a US Chess suspension, however, so he could still play FIDE tournaments, attend events in local US Clubs, teach others in clubs, give simuls, etc. Lichess argued that it should have been more severe or public, as US Chess decided to keep his suspension private for some time. This was one of the reasons for their eventual decision to stop cooperating with US Chess.

Gareyev giving a simul to a correctional facility in June 2023 Credit: ChessBase

Final Thoughts

Please remember that these are allegations and as of now, none of them have been confirmed yet. All in all, this situation has many layers and has a similar nature to the Alejandro Ramirez case. It will be interesting to see how US Chess and Saint Louis Chess Club respond to this situation if they even respond. Anyways, thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

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