Andy Samuelson , a 2 time VA state champion, is the DCCL Open division Iron-Man being the most active player in the last 3+ years and playing 30+ games in our league over that time period*.
He was also part of the winning team at the US Amateur Team East Championship this year. Over 1000 players participated in this event. This is a big deal as any team chess player knows. Nothing comes close to this tournament for team play experience in the US.
Who then could possibly be better to ask questions about team play, the DCCL, and chess in general than Andy?
I’ve watched Andy play for many years in the DCCL and I have noticed win or lose he always keeps a positive attitude and very even keel. For such a strong player (his current rating is 2340), he is also a very approachable, friendly and modest person. In the game he sent me he noted at the time he was in a long 7 game draw/losing streak. What he didn’t say was that prior to the most recent last round he had a recent 9 game winning streak in the league primarily on Board 1 for the Argyles.
Below are some questions and answers with one of our top and most active rated players in the league Andy Samuelson:
- How long have you been playing chess and who is your favorite chess player in history?
I’ve been playing chess for 25 years. I have a hard time naming a favorite player. Garry Kasparov was World Champion when I started playing, so he was definitely one of my favorites. Historically, I also like Emanuel Lasker, who was a mathematician in addition to being a great player. From recent times, Vugar Gashimov was one of my favorite players, mainly because his opening repertoire was similar to mine.
2. You are very active in DCCL league play and local tournaments. What is your biggest motivation to keep playing?
Obviously, I like to play, or I wouldn’t play so much! I think it keeps my mind sharp and is entertaining at the same time. Playing frequently also helps keep me motivated to continue studying and trying to improve. Additionally, many of my friends play chess, so there is a social aspect to it for me as well.
- What’s the difference for you if any from playing on a team and just playing in a regular tournament?
There is an extra dimension to team play that I like. Good teams win and lose together and good teammates support each other. The flip side of that is that teammates who don’t support each other tend not to do as well. I think the importance of team chemistry is under-appreciated by many players.
- Being on the winning Amateur Team East team is the gold standard of Amateur team play in the United States and perhaps the World. How many USATE events have you played? What was the difference for your team this year?
I played six times in 2002, 2003 (as an alternate), 2005, 2011, 2013, and 2015. This year, I think we played very well together and helped each other a lot. That was also true in 2011, when we tied for 2nd and came in 3rd on tiebreaks with 5.5/6.
- What was the most satisfying team match win you have ever participated? Can be either DCCL or USATE.
That’s hard to say. My teams never seem to win the last match with everything on the line. Sometimes we tie and win the title that way, like what happened this year at USATE and twice in the DC summer league. Our last match in the 2011 USATE was a great win, though. We won 2.5-1.5 in a match that went the distance and with a top finish at stake. My teammate Daniel Miller (we played together again this year) held a tough bishop vs. knight ending to clinch it for us at the end. I also played in three Pan-Am Intercollegiate championships for the UMBC C team and six VA collegiate championships for GMU. GMU’s team win in the 2009 VA Collegiate, while not in match format, was quite memorable. Our team won all six games in the last round to pass UVA and Virginia Tech in the standings and take the team title.
- What is the worst team loss you have ever had ( Either DCCL or USATE) and who is the DCCL player who has given you the most trouble over the years?
I remember losing a DCCL match 5-0 to the Arlington Kings several years ago. Multiple losses in playoff matches for the DCCL title and in the 5th round to the eventual winners of the 2005 USATE were bad too. I think I lost my games in all of those matches! My team lost 3.5-0.5 in the final match of the USAT playoff this year (I drew my game).
I’m not sure which player has given me the most trouble in the DCCL. I have a terrible overall score against Larry Kaufman, but most of the games were in tournaments. I was 0-7 against Dov Gorman until I finally beat him in a playoff match for the DCCL winter league title. We ended up tying that match with Ashburn and losing the title on tiebreaks. My record against Paolo Del Mundo isn’t too good either.
- When someone comes up to you and asks what can I do to get better at chess what is your typical recommendation ( Let’s say an average 1500 rated player)?
My usual reaction is that the answer to the question really depends on the individual. Everyone’s different and it’s hard to come up with a panacea! I find it quite difficult to give a blanket answer without knowing more about the player.
- How can we make the DCCL better? Any changes you would like to see?
I wonder about making it Fide-rated, although that would require a change to the time control. It would be good to see some more teams, especially in the lower sections. I’m not sure how to attract them, though. It seems like the Reserve section in particular has really suffered lately, with a large number of forfeits and unplayed matches.
Samuelson,Andrew (2315) – Collier,Philip (2200) [B80]
DC Chess League, 2013
This was my seventh DCCL game against Phil Collier. It took place in the first round of the 2013 DCCL summer season. My team, the Arlington Argyles, had won the 2012 summer league title. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.f3 Be7 8.Qd2 Qc7 9.g4 Nc6 10.0-0-0 b5 11.g5 Nd7 12.Qg2!? I played this with the ambitious idea played in the game, but it was probably better to push the h-pawn. [12.h4 Bb7 13.h5 White probably has a slight edge here since his attack is farther along.] 12…Bb7 [Black probably should have taken on d4 instead. 12…Nxd4 13.Rxd4 Bb7 with an unclear position.]
Objectively, the sacrifice is not good for White, but in practice it was hard for Black to defend. 13…hxg6 14.Nxe6 fxe6 15.Qxg6+ Kd8? This is definitely the wrong direction! Now I get reasonable compensation for the material. Kf8 leaves the king on an optically more dangerous square, but was a much better move for concrete reasons. [For example 15…Kf8! 16.Qxe6 Nf6 17.Ne2 Ne5 18.Nd4 Bc8 19.Qb3 Nc4 and Black is clearly better with a knight for two pawns.] 16.Qxe6 Nf6 [16…Nce5 This was a more active option for Black, counterattacking the f3 pawn.] 17.Rg1 Bc8 18.Qb3 Rf8? This is probably the decisive mistake. Black should be okay if he guards g7, although he can’t claim an advantage anymore. [18…Bf8! For example 19.Bg5 Qa7 20.Rg2 Ke8 21.Bxf6 Qe3+ 22.Kb1 gxf6 23.Rd3 Qe1+ 24.Rd1 Qe3=] 19.Rxg7 After taking a third pawn while continuing to attack, White has a big advantage. 19…Na5?! This helps White by moving a key defender away and chasing my queen to a better square. 20.Qa3 [20.Qb4 Nc6 21.Qb3 just repeats moves.] 20…Rb8 This was played to threaten a fork with b4. [20…Nc6 21.Bxb5 Be6 22.Bxc6 Qxc6 23.e5 This doesn’t help Black’s cause.]
22.exf6 is not quite as good. 22…bxa3 23.fxe7+ Qxe7 24.Bg5 Qxg5+ 25.Rxg5 axb2+ 26.Kb1 Rxf3 27.Ne4 This probably wins for White too, but it’s harder than the game.] 22…Bxd6 23.Rxd6+ Qxd6 24.Qxa5+ Ke8
25…Be6 26.Ne2 [It was even stronger to play 26.Bc5 Qf4+ 27.Kb1 Rf7 28.Ne2 Qe5 29.f4 Qd5 30.Rg5 Qh1+ 31.Rg1 Qd5 32.Nd4 Re7 33.Qa4+ and so on.] 26…Nd7 [26…Rf7 This was a little more tenacious. 27.Rg5 Rc8 28.Bc5 Rxc5 29.Qxc5 Qxc5 30.Rxc5 White is three pawns up.] 27.Nd4 Bf7 28.Nf5 I liked this maneuver to bring the knight into the attack. 28…Qxh2 29.Qxa6 Qe5 30.f4 Qd5 31.Be4 Black’s queen is nearly trapped in the middle of the board! 31…Qb5 [31…Qe6 32.Qxe6+ (32.Qa5 This is objectively the strongest move. 32…Rh8 33.Rxf7 Kxf7 34.Bd5 Rh1+ 35.Kd2 and White wins the queen after escaping the checks.) 32…Bxe6 33.Re7+ Kd8 34.Rxe6 I planned on meeting Qe6 this way, with a straightforward win.;31…Qxa2 32.Nd6+ This would be followed by taking on f7 with check.]
32.Nd6+ Incredibly, this was the last DCCL game I won in 2013. I managed two draws and five losses in my next seven games, my worst DCCL streak ever. That included blundering a two-move mate in a playoff match for the DCCL summer season title. 1-0