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HomeLife InsuranceWall Streeters Beaten in 'Smartest' Chess Tournament

Wall Streeters Beaten in ‘Smartest’ Chess Tournament


Each player’s move was projected on a large screen mounted above the stage.

To prepare, William Graif, an associate engineer at Deutsche Bank, studied his opponents’ past games. He played his first rated tournament when he was about 5 years old and from then on, he said, chess has always been a “part of my life.”

“When I was little and mostly throughout my childhood, I wanted to compete,” Graif said. “I wanted to be the best.”

Chess competitions have taken him to Turkey, Vietnam, Hungary and Portugal. While he still has a competitive spirit for chess, he now focuses more on “enriching other people’s lives through the game of chess” and has taught at summer chess camps for kids.

Over the 10 rounds played across the weekend, teams typically won or lost all four of their matches. In the two rounds Susquehanna faced off against Goldman, the investment bank lost each time except when Len Ioffe, a managing director, played to a draw against Nan Zhao, a quantitative researcher at Susquehanna.

The winning team from Chessify included two grandmasters, Zaven Andriasian and Gevorg Harutjunyan, along with Tigran R. Sargsyan and Ani Harutyunyan.

The tournament experience helped draw players in the companies closer. Igor Shneider, vice president of the Financial Institutions Group at Deutsche Bank, said his team had “really good camaraderie.”

He started playing chess around age 9 and was ranked as high as 80th in the US in his youth. Shneider has played in Spain, Greece and China, and earned a chess scholarship to the University of Texas, Dallas.

Shneider was locked in a “time scramble” in a match against a ChessMood team member.

“I was attacking throughout the game; my opponent conducted a counterattack” that ultimately left them with less than 30 seconds on the clock each. The time pressure, Shneider said, meant he “missed some good chances to win the game.”

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