The 6th Man

6th man

In basketball the 6th man is usually referred to as the team’s best substitute because only 5 players start a basketball game. In the open section of the DCCL we have 6 player teams so the 6th man is a starter and plays the whole match.

As a team captain, one thing I have always prided myself on since joining the league is to make sure we had 6 players to play every match. Sometimes though, and I’m sure other team captains can relate, it’s simply hard to find 6 players on your team who can play any particular round. I had that experience last round. It was not until hours to go before the start of the match Vs Sterling that I could find a 6th player. If the match was being played at Arlington it would not have been as big an issue because I could have asked someone playing in the ladder that night if they wanted to play a league match. Playing in Sterling I had no such luxury.

I very rarely don’t have a complete team a few hours before a match but what was great is when I told my Ashburn club members we needed a 6th player a lot of people pitched in to help find someone. I communicated with people I don’t talk to often and it was nice to see people coming together to help so we could field a full team. Chess is an individual game but when you play on a team, community plays a factor.

We did field a 6 player team but ironically our opponent fielded only a 5 player team due to a no-show. I have noticed over the last few years a difficulty of some teams in the open section in general getting 6th players. Going to 4 man teams year round in the open ( We do that in the summer league) has been suggested. It does work well in the summer.

I have mixed emotions about that because it basically could limit playing time for some of my team members if we go to 4 boards year round but at the same time it could make it easier for teams to always field a full roster and it could actually allow for more teams.

What do you think?

No big upsets occurred in round 7. In the open section the Argyles did draw Silver Knights so they have 1.5 in the loss column. Coral Reef beat the Fury to have 1 in the loss column while my team Ashburn Open got by Sterling to stand at .5 in the loss column.

On April 17th the Argyles will face the Ashburn Open team in an important match between two of the leaders with only 1 round to go after the match.

In the Amateur section things have gotten a little more interesting. The GM’s who were undefeated drew the Bishops last round and will face an Ashburn Amateur team in a make-up match on April 10th. If there is a winner in that match it may determine the Amateur league title.


I asked one of my teammates, Vinay Doma if he would be willing to post and edit his last round game and he graciously accepted.

He played Sterling’s Paul Yavari, one of the most aggressive tactical players in the area in my opinion. Paul is a former Md State Champion and he loves to play with the initiative. Often when I see his games he has creatively sacked a pawn early to grab the initiative.

His opponent Vinay is a great team member of mine and a great team player.  Vinay has a solid universal style and almost always plays for the win.  He is also basically the co-team captain with me for Ashburn Open and by recruiting others and playing in the tough matches has helped keep our team going through the last few years..

Expert Paul Yavari


Expert Vinay Doma


Below is the game with Vinay’s comments.
Yavari,Paul (2056) – Doma,Vinay (2073) [C31]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 The Kings Gambit! I played this myself a few years ago and the games were always exciting and short. 2…d5 I find the Falkbeer Counter gambit to be the safest, though most GMs consider 2….exf4 to be best move. 3.d4


Out of theory on move 3! There goes all my prep. The benefit of moves like this to the player is that the opponent needs to start thinking for himself. The drawback is that the move is dubious and could result in a worse game with correct play. 3…exf4 The most natural move since it comes with the threat of Qh4. GM Arthur Yusupov played exd4 here (only GM game in my database). Believe it or not, the computer considers 3…f5 to be equal (after a long think). So there’s still a lot of scope for originality in chess. [3…exd4 4.Qxd4 Nf6 5.e5 Ne4³;
3…f5 4.exf5 exd4 5.Qh5+ Kd7 6.Nf3 c5 7.Ne5+ Kc7 8.Qf7+ Ne7=] 4.Bxf4 dxe4 So White gambits his e pawn rather than the f pawn. 5.Nc3 Nf6 [5…Bb4 was another option. Since this was an open position and my opponent had a lead in development, I preferred to keep my bishops or exchange them off for his.] 6.Bc4 White has three pieces out to Black’s one. Time to start neutralizing some of that pressure. 6…Bd6 7.Nge2 [7.Bxd6 cxd6 8.d5 0-0µ] 7…Bxf4 I’d rather the knight be misplaced on f4, rather than White castling 0-0 and the rook coming into play. (-0.72). 8.Nxf4 Nc6 Best but 0-0 was a good low risk alternative. [8…0-0 9.0-0 Nbd7³ with the idea Nb6, a5, c6.] 9.d5

9…Bg4 8nc6

Develops the bishop with tempo and prevents Qe2.9… Ne5 and 9…Ne7 were interesting but it was difficult to evaluate the final position. I remember a Magnus Carlsen interview, where he said the problem is not with being able to calculate lines deep, but with being able to evaluate the final position as being better, equal or worse. [9…Ne5 10.Qd4 Nxc4 11.Qxc4 0-0 12.0-0-0;
9…Ne7 10.Qd2 0-0 11.0-0-0] 10.Qd2 Na5 (-0.54) [10…Ne5 11.Qd4 Nxc4 12.Qxc4 0-0 13.h3 Bd7 14.0-0-0 Re8 15.Rhe1 b5 16.Qd4 Qe7 17.d6 cxd6 18.Qxd6 Rac8=;
10…Ne7 11.h3 Bd7 12.g4=]

11.Be2 11be2

A clever move threatening b4. White also has the threat of Bxg4 Nxg4, Qe2 followed by Qb5 winning a piece. Anytime one has a hanging piece, one needs to look out for tactical threats. And this is where I miscalculated and thought .. .b6 was necessary. Not that it’s a blunder, but there were better moves available (0-0, Qd6, h5, Bxe2) and one clearly worse move (Qe7). Not analysing each subtree individually was my mistake. I mixed up the lines and the assessment. The difference between a master and an expert is that the master calculates and evaluates a position much better and is able to be calm under pressure and find the right moves. The following moves were all equal or better for Black.. 11…b6?! [11…Qd6 12.Bxg4 Nc4 13.Qe2 Qxf4 14.Qxc4 Nxg4 15.Qxe4+ Qxe4+ 16.Nxe4 Ne3³;
11…0-0 12.Bxg4 Nxg4 13.Qe2 Nf6 14.0-0-0 Qd6 15.g3 Rfe8³;
11…Bxe2 12.Qxe2 0-0 13.b4 Qd6 14.bxa5 Qxf4-+;
11…h5 12.0-0-0 0-0=] 12.0-0-0 [12.Bxg4 was probably better as Black knight is misplaced on g4. 12…Nxg4 13.Qe2 Nf6 14.0-0 0-0 15.Rae1=] 12…Bxe2 White is ahead in development, so Black’s goal is to exchange pieces to neutralize any attacking possibilities. 13.Qxe2 0-0 14.Nxe4? [14.g4 Re8 15.g5 Nd7 16.Rhg1= was better as White starts his attack though Black some good squares for his knights and the extra pawn. After the text move, Black gets easy play.] 14…Re8³ 15.Nxf6+ Qxf6 16.Qf1 All of a sudden, White’s position is difficult. Two freeing moves (Re8 and Qxf6) have given Black an excellent position. Black controls the a1h8 diagnol, the e-file and the knight’s threatening to go to c4. 16…Rad8 Bring the last piece into play, though Re4 was most accurate. [16…Re4 17.Nd3 Qg5+ 18.Kb1 Qxd5 was most accurate, but still needs to be played carefully. 19.Qf3 Rd8?? 20.Nb4!+- wins for White.] 17.Kb1 Re4


One of the problems with a position changing character is the player being able to adjust to it. Previously White was developing quickly, had threats and the initiative. Now with most minor pieces exchanged away and Black being more active, White needed to play conservative chess – play defense and hold. Nh3 or Nd3 was necessary. [18.Nd3 Qxf1 19.Rhxf1 Rxd5 Black has an extra pawn but needs to play a good endgame to convert.;
18.Nh3 Qe5 19.b3 Nb7 20.Nf2 Rd4³] 18…Qe5 19.Ng3?? Qd3 was a better move, making Black work harder for a win. [19.Qd3 Nc4 20.c3 Nxb2! 21.Kxb2 Re2+ 22.Ka1 Qxh5-+] 19…Rb4 The queen, rook and knight all work together to put the White king away. If White had the knight on d3, none of this would have been possible. 20.c3? [20.b3 Nc4 21.Qxc4 Rxc4 22.bxc4 Qc3-+ gets the Rook and Knight for Queen, though Black is still winning.] 20…Qxc3 21.Qf2 Nc4


White resigns. Find mate in 3 after 22. Ne4 or 22. Qd4. 0-1



About shoshall

Father, Chess player and teacher, Securities trader
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