What is Sandbagging in Chess?

Chess Basics
Boy thinking and playing chess against opponent

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Sandbagging in chess refers to deliberately hiding your true skill level to gain a competitive advantage.

Sandbaggers play below their actual strength to lull their opponent into a false sense of confidence.

Why do they do this? This strategy is majorly aimed at winning more prizes at tournaments. If they play in a lower rating section, they have a better chance of coming in first.

However, sandbagging is considered illegal in chess. It’s one of the dark sides of chess.

If it’s discovered that a player deliberately sandbags in official chess tournaments and competitions, such player may be penalized heavily.

How To Spot a Sandbagger

Watch out for players who:

  • Seem overly confident or arrogant. Real lower-rated players are still learning and humble.
  • Play complicated openings or use advanced strategies. Their skill level seems beyond their rating.
  • Make few mistakes. They find the best moves easily and capitalize on your errors.
  • Have a history of big rating jumps. Check their rating chart to see if they’ve sandbagged in the past.

If you ever suspect that your opponent might be a sandbagger, don’t confront them directly.

Instead share your thoughts with the tournament director or arbiter who’ll take a look at the case and judge it fairly.

Have any more questions? Let us know in the comments section.

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