What Is the Origin of Sandbagging?

Chipping onto the green

According to wikipedia, the term sandbagging generally refers to a cheat who conceals his real talents to fool his opponent. In cards, a sandbagger is a poker player who pretends his hand is lousy when he has a good hand to get other players to put greater stakes on the table. On the golf course, a sandbag golfer pretends he has a lower level of ability than he really does. In pool, think Paul Newman in "The Hustler": a pool shark acting like an amateur to raise the bets against him. Though the origin of the word sandbagging didn't mean quite the same thing, it did have a negative definition that has carried on through the years.

What is the origin of sandbagging?

The word ''sandbag'' has been around as far as the 1580s, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, and referred merely to a bag filled with sand in those old days. These bags of sand were often used as a weapon or for fortification and the term used had nothing to do with cards or pool. The noun evolved into a verb around the late 19th century meaning to attack someone with a sandbag, making a sandbagger a rotten individual who ambushed his victims with that sandbag. In the mid 20th century, sandbagging meant to hold back from betting at first in hopes of making a greater bet later. In the 1970s, people began to use sandbag in its modern etymology.

Sandbagging in Chess

While sandbagging can often mean missed putts or bad horse racing bets, it’s actually become a huge issue in the chess world. Often, chess players will tank chess games to get a low rating. This allows them to become a qualifier for amateur tournaments where they can clean house. Luckily, many Chess organizations are trying to curb this like the Marshall Chess Club in New York.