Saturday, July 18, 2009

World Open : Wisconsin's Alex Gianos-Steinberg wins $14,000
Alex Responds (see comments)

Alex won clear first with 8.0/9.0 ! in the U2000 section.

He is also Wisconsin's newest expert!

Who is Alex Gianos-Steinberg?

All I know about Alex is his MSA record at uscf. After his first tournament at the WCC in 2001, he has only played in the Chicago Open until now, with very good results.

2002 U1400 Tie for 26th
2003 U1400 Tie for 4th
2004 U1600 Tie for 22nd
2005 U1600 Clear 1st $5000
2006 U1800 Tie for 8th
2008 U1900 Clear 1st $5000


  1. He finished with a clear 1st 8/9! Amazing. Any idea if he polays a lot on line?

  2. He plays in one tournament a year, always a big money event and usually wins big cash. Hmmm. A clever sandbagger or just a coincidence ??

  3. coincidence? he has to be twice as great as kasparov, to play in 6 tourneys in 4-5 years, and still have the nerves/experience to win 3 major titles (and world open is no joke with 8/9). and b.t.w. online chess is no, absolutely no match for actual tournament experience.

    what i know for a fact for another player (who has exactly the same case)-he came to US few years back, and somehow managed to play in U1300, though his game was already expert level. he won 3 major events, till he started playing in U2000 and since then he didnt win any money. Gianos-Steinberg seems to be like already of expert/master level-the two chicago opens he stood at 4/6, it seems he ran into bigger sandbaggers.

    the sad part about sandbagging is that honest players lose rating points for nothing-and rating points cost money one way or the another. so i think its as bad as a ponzy scheme.

  4. Does anyone know Alex? Maybe he's just a young player, rapidly improving, who only plays in big events once a year to see if he can make some cash. That means he's an online-chess guy, perhaps.

  5. That would be my take on it. He just plays on-line a lot instead of over-the-board.

  6. I know him, but not as a chess player. He is REALLY introverted and does his own thing. He was high school champ and undefeated at school. Really a nice guy. Maybe 24 years old.

  7. He should come out and join the Southwest Chess Club. We would welcome him to the Club. We can never have enough chess players!

  8. i stand corrected abt the sandbagging comment - alex seems like a talented player who for some reasons, decided not to pursue chess as a career (and go on to become a 2300+ player). i see one of his scholastic tournaments in 2003, where he defeated a 1900+ player.

  9. Alex beat me(1900+), Erik(1800-1900), and Joe(1800-1900). At a WI State Scholastic one year, his rating was only like 1400-1500. He took me into a line of the Grand Prix(I was white) I knew very well and outplayed me. To this day he is the only person I have lost to in that line(I am like 9-1-1/2(vs. an IM). It is not really sandbagging not to play for a year and then play a big money tournament. It is sandbagging when every year your rating magically drops down so you can play in a Under section.

    Ashish Vaja

  10. This guy is a sandbagger.

  11. Ashish,
    there is no doubt that this guy is atleast 2200-2300 (your comments only reinforce that he was and is a very good player). as far as sandbagging is concerned, some might describe sandbagging as playing in a lower category (ref-wiki-The term has multiple uses, such as a driver who competes in an event in a series below their level of expertise in order to finish high). to me, it seems that alex precisely does that.

  12. haha what? since when does beating two 1800-1900 players several years ago make someone a master?

  13. you are absolutely right. getting past 2200 only makes one a master (yes, forget about beating 1800-1900, even beating IMs wont make you a master technically). however, i find it little difficult to digest that a player playing at that strength in 2003, BELIEVED that he is a class C player and subsequently chooses to play in U1600. and again, there is nothing illegal in that-he just exploited the loopholes (scholastic not being USCF rated that year for example).

  14. Jonathan Gianos-SteinbergJuly 13, 2009 at 1:50:00 PM CDT

    I'm Alex's brother, and he won't share any of that $14,000 with me. That sandbagging S.O.B.

  15. I'm one of Alex's best friends. He'd better take that cheese and come vist me far, far away rather than blow it at his favorite nightspot :-)

    And all you guys talking about sandbagging, just suck it. Anyone who knows Alex, knows that he's been practicing and playing seriously for the past ten years - hence his nickname "chessmaster" back in high school.

  16. What exactly has he been doing to get so good.

    Chess fish

  17. Well, not wasting time blogging about chess or commenting on other people's blogs.

  18. Alex Gianos-SteinbergJuly 15, 2009 at 6:19:00 PM CDT

    Hello everyone, this blog came to my attention. I am 24 and play mostly online at ICC. I have played since I was 15 and have never had the desire to pursue a career in it. I mostly enjoy blitz. I would not like spending every other weekend playing 5, 6, 7 games etc. Just does not appeal to me, so I usually go to 1 tourney a year. Any other questions, just ask.

  19. How many hours a week do you devote to study and play. What kind do you study?

    What time limits do you play on ICC? Do you go over the games afterwards?

    When will you play again?

    How important is opening study?

    When do you think you will be a master?

    What do you think your lifetime peak rating will be?

    Some one mentioned that you were introverted, do you agree?

  20. Tell us about your only loss in round 8, and how you mentally prepared for round 9

  21. I hardly ever study in the traditional sense. I have read a couple of books on openings, one when I was in high school which helped a lot. The most recent one was a year ago which also helped quite a bit. I play on ICC mostly pure 5 minute game pool and I do go over those with the program they provide. This has helped as the competition is very good there of course and going over the games with the program is always helpful and interesting. I have played on Yahoo and other sites in the past and it was much harder to improve.

    Naturally you can tell I find opening study to be very important. The only other form of chess literature I have read is tactics and after a certain level I see that more as for fun and sharpening tactical skills I already have.

    I'm not sure when I'll play again, possibly next year Chicago or World Open. Almost a year away so who knows what will happen. I can't say I really care if/when I become a master. I do well for myself when I play online or over the board tourneys. Introverted is a big word :) but I suppose it is an accurate description

  22. The loss in round 8 was poor to say the least. It simplified to an endgame where I had a bishop, rook and 4 pawns to his knight, rook and 4 pawns. At first it seemed like a draw with a slight edge to white (me). He then overextended his pawns and created quite a weak pawn.

    My king was better placed and his pieces were tied down to defense. I certainly had a superior position but messed up badly with my bishop. It was a position where he checked with his rook and I could take the pawn but I would lose the bishop. This ended up pushing my king away and allowed him time to centralize his knight to a strong post.

    Just like that the initiative went squarely to him and I ended up giving my bishop up to grab the pawn which created a passer for me and also kept my king in good position. I defended pretty well and time was a factor for him, he eventually gave the knight for the passed pawn. We were then even on pawns but the fact he had overextended ended up helping and his king was better placed. He played well from there and I resigned when he had 2 minutes on his clock to my hour.

    Naturally I was pissed, and I don't deal with losses well. So I vented for a good hour and a half and then eventually got ready for the last game. A win meant at least 10.5 grand so I had to get it together. There have been times in the past where a loss turns into 2 or 3 losses in a row. Thankfully this wasn't the case this time. I played very well the last round and sat back as the guy I lost to managed to draw an incredible endgame vs. the other player who was tied with me going into the last round.

    So to sum up I should have been able to draw that game in my sleep if not win it. However, I did get fortunate in other games so it evened out I'd say. One opponent trying to reach time control turned what should have been an easy draw into a mate in one. I could very well have lost the first game I played too. So it ended well at least.

  23. I don't devote any time to studying and the amount of time I spend playing varies a lot. I have probably played about 10 blitz games since I got home from the tournament. I usually don't play much in the summer as there is a lot going on.

  24. I've seen Alex in action and I can tell you that he is more of a motorboater than a sandbagger in my opinion. Ask the girls at Silk.

  25. I don't know about sandbagging, but he definitely likes to teabag.

  26. Hi,

    I think it is interesting to note that a lot of people including myself suspect sandbagging when one has exceptional results. It was great to have Alex respond to find out the truth.

  27. It's been an interesting discussion. I decided to look at the MSA of the guy Alex lost to in round 8. This guy seems to believe in long term planning for his sandbagging.

    In November of 2005 he went 0-4 in a tournament at the Losa Angeles CC where in the first two rounds he lost to an expert and master, but then in round 3 he lost to 1319 P25 and in round 4 to 1016 P21. His rating dropped from 2063 to 2019.

    He didn't play again until January of 2006 where he came back to the Los Angeles CC where he beat a 1338 in round 1, lost to a 1707 in round 2, and lost to a 982/p22 in round three and then dropped out. His rating went from 2019 to 1987.

    Then he played in the 2006 US Open where he scored 6-3. It's unclear if 6 was enough to win the under 2000 prize, but there were a lot of under 1900s with 6 points.

    One has to wonder if the big dump in January was to score big in the World Open or Chicago Open that year, but the rating cut offs might have been on the odd number Under 2100, under 1900.

    Then he didn't play again until this year's World Open where he scored 7.5. After beating Alexander in round 8 he only managed a draw in round 9, so he ended out in a 4 way tie for 2nd- 5th. I'm not sure how much money those guys won. Though it seems to be enough that they all have 2000 floors now.

    #3's history was sort of fishy. Lots of quads with marginal results tahtdropped his rating below 2000. #4 and 5 seem to be high school kids who made nice gains through out the year.

    The World Open under 1800 winner stopped playing in 1999 as junior high school kid. Started back up again in 2007, won the North American Open Under 1200 with 6.5 out of 7.

    Didn't play again until 2008 North American Open where he he won that section scoring 6.5 out of 7.

    Didn't play again until this year's World Open where he scored 8 out 9 to win the section again. He only has an 1800 floor. Do you want to take bets on whether he wins the under 1900 section at this year's North American Open, or whether Goichberg will assign him a CCA rating of 2000 and make him play in the Under 2100.

    Some people don't sandbag by losing in small tournaments. They sandbag by hiding their true strength by not playing in rated tournaments. Instead they hide out on ICC, or do training matches with Rybka.

  28. Hi,

    Are we getting too paranoid about sandbagging?
    I don't think you can always assume that a big upset is due to sandbagging, because the lower rated player could have played a great game.

    In the U2200 section, the winners were my son, Scott Low, and William Stewart from GA.

    Scott recently turned 17 and was briefly at 2210 after tying for first at the 2008 Denker, but then had a subpar US Open (he wasn't sandbagging) to fall back under 2200. My son always tries to win; he almost never takes a 1/2 point bye and never drops out of tournaments.

    He took advantage of the 3 day schedule by winning all of his short games on Day 1.
    After 3 straight draws (he missed a win in round 8), he went into last round tied for first with a number of others. His opponent, Luan Elezi, defeated him last year in round 7 of the same section last year. It was an exciting battle as each was trying to win, and Scott prevailed in the end.

    William Stewart, I believe, is in his early 20's and lost to Scott in round 5 in a fairly equal game that ended in a time scramble.
    After that, he finished out with 3 wins and a draw. I don't believe William is a sandbagger although I haven't studied his rating history.

    Both are now over 2200 USCF and Continental Chess should give them 2200 floors.

    Another talented Junior, Abby Marshall, scored 7/9 and just fell short of 2200 at 2199.
    She could make Master in a couple of weeks by becoming the first female to win the Denker.

    Tim Low

  29. I agree with Polly's point of view on this. My rating recently went from 1500's to 1700's during one Saturday tournament at my local club, up approx 200 points.

    On that same day, there was also a tournament for decent prize money where I could have played in the U1600 category. Having been unemployed for nearly a year and playing a lot on FICS, I surely felt that had I played I would probably have simply been sandbagging.

    Not only was I not interested in sand-bagging, besides being more interested in getting rating points, but I also figured on the obvious which is that sandbaggers probably have to consider the fact that at big money tournaments they may run into other sandbaggers. chuckles. Polly's research here seems to support this possibility.

  30. Typo. That should read approx. 200 points over 2 tournaments, but up 300 points over 4 month period.

    I was playing lots of games on FICS, but once I had my opening repertoire fleshed out, I've switched over more to studying my OTB games with "Rybka", no actually just Crafty and occasionally Shredder. Also, studying "some" tactics of course, as people are quick to mention these days. My calculation skills were alright, so I study tactics a little bit more for the "combinative vision" aspect as Dvoretsky might say.

  31. Anonymous wrote: "[Abby Marshall] could make master in a couple of weeks by becoming the first female to win the Denker." How prescient, since she did exactly that!