DCCL Summer 2015 Round 2 and Award Ceremony Pictures

The DC Chess league 2014-2015 Winter season awards ceremony took place on July 22nd as well as the second round of the DCCL. As usual Bill Simmons took great pictures of the event.

We also had some interesting results. The Sterling Skewers beat the very dangerous Ashburn Junior team 2.5-1.5 while Cold Fury beat last year’s summer league winners Arlington Argyles 3.5-.5. Both of these teams stand at 1.5-.5 in the overall standing and will square off on August 14th at Arlington.  Meanwhile: Forever Young beat up on the Kings 4-0 and Coral Reef won against the Mome Raths 3.5-.5. Both “The Reef” and Forever Young are 2-0 and are paired as the only undefeated teams for round 3.

Finally in the Amateur section George Mason beat Ashburn to be the only team undefeated in the Amateur section this summer. Can anyone stop these guys?

Below are some of the pictures from the night.

_DSC0274-S[1]Winter Amateur team champions : The happy George Mason crew: L to R: Stephen Jablon, Ako Heidari, Jonathan Bode, Scott Daniels (Ako and Jonathan won top board prize)

_DSC0277-S[1]Winter Open League champions: The serious Ashburn Open squad (Actually we are pretty laid back): L to R: NM Mahbub Alam, Scott Webster, NM Shawn Hoshall and FM Paolo del Mundo (Paolo won top board prize)


George Mason vs Ashburn Amateur. George Mason (On Right- L-R): Jonathan Bode, Ako Heidari. Ashburn: Pranav Karthik


NM William Marcelino checking out the results of his team Forever Young vs The Kings. He was pleased.


Cold Fury vs Arlington Argyles: Cold Fury pulled off the big upset and won the match. L-R Cold Fury (On right L-R) Steve Miller (In orange shirt), Jonathan Mathews, Arthur Tang, NM Daniel Lowinger. Argyles (L-R): NM Geoff McKenna, NM Andrew Samuelson


NM Jeevan Karamsetty of the Arlington Kings


Savage Fury vs Morphy’s Mojo: Savage Fury (On right L-R): Josh Hiban, Paul Swaney, Tim Hamilton. Morphys Mojo: James Guill. The match ended in a draw.


Silver Knights Squad (L-R): Oliver Gainer, Ali Thompson, David Bennett and NM Jeremy Kane. Silver Knights barely lost to Ashburn Open (AKA: “Can You Smell What the Rook is Cookin?” is Ashburn’s fancy new name this summer)

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Suprising Start to DCCL Summer League in Open, 3 of 4 Top Seeds Draw


The DC Chess league summer session kicked off on June 19th. We have 13 teams in the Open section and 5 teams in the Amateur. Teams were seeded by projected rating of their top 4 boards. George Mason and Ashburn Amateur started off strong in the Amateur section with wins. The Open section had a much more surprising start with 3 of the top 4 seeds drawing their first round. Big individual upsets in the first round included Sean Senft of the Cold Fury over Fide master Paolo Del Mundo of Ashburn Open (Paolo went undefeated on board 1 and won top board prize last winter season). Mark Scott of the Sterling Skewers also beat expert Chris Sherwin who had an over 400 point rating advantage. Finally the summer league saw the welcome return of the Kings. A staple in the DC chess league for many decades. The Kings won their first round vs Savage Fury.

Finally congratulations for all those who played in the grueling 9 round World Open this year that was locally held in Arlington.  Big Congrats to Dc Chess league Junior player Andy Huang who tied for first in the under 2200 section.

DCCL Summer 1st Round Big Upset

The game below was played between Mark Scott of the Sterling Skewers and Chris Sherwin of the Argyles. It enabled the Sterling Skewers to draw the favored Arlington Argyles and it was also one of the bigger individual board upsets in some time. I wasn’t all that surprised though because I have seen Mark beat 2200 rated players in over the board play. The game was well played by both players. Black may have pressed to hard to win at the end.

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Mark Scott, Team Captain of the Sterling Skewers

Scott,M 1613 Sherwin,C 2044

1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 d5 4.exd5 exd5 Exchange French 5.Bb5



5…Bd6 is considered the main move. It’s a more aggressive bishop placement than the game continuation and black can play Ne7 next and castle.   Played over 500 times in my database and whites results vs Bd6 are not very good.  40% positive for white.

[ 5…Bd6 6.0-0 Nge7] 6.0-0 Be7 7.Ne5 Bd7 8.Nxd7?! 8.nxd7 is not a novelty but just developing with 8.Re1 is probably best. French GM Oliver Renet played 8. Bxc6 in this position in 1995 vs his IM opponent from Sweden, B. Tiller and won. Game below [ 8.Bxc6 Bxc6 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Bg5 0-0 11.Nd2 c5 12.dxc5 Bxc5 13.Nb3 Bb6 14.Qf3 Qd6 15.Bxf6 Qxf6 16.Qxf6 gxf6 17.Rad1 Rad8 18.Rfe1 Rfe8 19.Rxe8+ Rxe8 20.Kf1 Re5 21.Nd4 Re4 22.c3 Kf8 23.Nf3 Ra4 24.a3 c6 25.Nd4 c5 26.Nc2 Rh4 27.Rxd5 Rxh2 28.Ne3 Rh1+ 29.Ke2 h5 30.Nc4 Ke7 31.a4 Ra1 32.a5 Bxa5 33.Rxc5 Bd8 34.Rxh5 Ke6 35.Rc5 f5 36.Re5+ Kf6 37.Rd5 Bc7 38.Rc5 Bf4 39.Ne3 Ke6 40.Nxf5 Ra2 41.Kf3 Bd2 42.b4 Bxc3 43.Rxc3 Kxf5 44.Rc5+ Kf6 45.Ra5 Rb2 46.Ra6+ Kg7 47.Ra4 Kg6 48.Ke3 f5 49.g3 Kg5 50.Kf3 Rb3+ 51.Kg2 Rb2 52.Kf3 Rb3+ 53.Ke2 Kg4 54.b5+ Kg5 55.Ra5 Kg4 56.Ra4+ Kg5 57.Ra5 Kg4 58.Kd2 Rb2+ 59.Kc3 Rxf2 60.Rxa7 Kxg3 61.b6 Rf3+ 62.Kd4 Rf4+ 63.Ke5 Rf1
64.Ra3+ Kg2 65.Rb3 Re1+ 66.Kd4 1-0 (66) Renet,O (2530)-Tiller,B (2395) Paris 1995]

8…Qxd7 9.Re1 0-0 10.Nc3 Rfe8 11.Bg5 Qf5 12.Bxc6 bxc6 13.Re5 Qg6 14.Qe2?! A slight inaccuracy by white placing the queen on e file. [ 14.Ne2 h6 15.Nf4 Qh7 16.Bxf6 Bxf6 17.Rxe8+ Rxe8 18.c3] 14…Bd6 15.Rxe8+ 15.  White had an interesting exchange sac with 15.Bxf6 [ 15.Bxf6 Bxe5 16.Bxe5 f6 17.f4] 15…Rxe8 16.Qd2 Ne4 17.Nxe4 Qxe4 18.Qe3 f6 19.Qxe4 Rxe4 20.Be3 f5 21.c3 Kf7 22.Re1 f4 23.Bd2 Kf6 24.f3 Rxe1+ 25.Bxe1



25… c5 for black ridding himself of the doubled pawn in this position as opposed to 25… g5 the move played is better.

26.b4 Keeping the black c pawns stacked.  26. Bf2 was also possible.

26…Kf5 27.h3 h5 28.Kf1 White offered a draw that was refused. It is difficult for either side to make progress.  White stands slightly better do to no way for blacks king to penetrate the kingside and black has a stacked pawns weakness. Be7 29.Ke2 g4 30.Kd3 Bf6 31.Bf2 gxh3 32.gxh3 Ke6 Now this really looks drawn.  No way for the white or black kings to penetrate besides down the a file.  Lots of maneuvering ensues. 33.Kc2 Kd7 34.Kb3 Kc8 35.Ka4 Kb7 36.Ka5 Bd8 37.a3 Bf6 38.Be1 Bd8 39.Bd2 Bh4 40.Ka4 40. Bxf4 is actually winning for white but it is very complex and unclear over the board. [ 40.Bxf4 Be1 41.Be5 Bxc3 42.f4 Bb2 43.f5 Kc8 ( 43…Bxa3 44.f6 Bc1 45.f7 Bh6 46.Bf4 Bf8 47.Bd2 a6 48.b5 cxb5 49.Bb4 Bh6 50.f8Q Bxf8 51.Bxf8) 44.f6 Kd7 45.a4 Bc3 46.Ka6 Bxb4 47.f7 Ke7 48.Bxc7 Bc3 49.Bd6+ Kxf7 50.Bc5] 40…Bg3 41.Ka5 Bf2 42.Ka4 Be3 43.Be1 Kb6 44.Kb3


44…a5? a5 was not best as noted by Mark.  It allows white to get an outside passed pawn.  If white can distract the black king with the outside pawn and munch blacks c and d pawns with his own King he should be winning.  Easier said then done however and black still has good drawing chances with the bishops on the board.

45.Bh4 Better is simply taking the pawn with bxa+ [ 45.bxa5+ Kxa5 46.c4+ Ka6 47.Bc3] 45…Kb5 Black needs to play 45…axb here and white has a choice of two less good moves.  Take back with a pawn and lose the passed pawn or take back with the white king and allow black to untangle his stacked pawns. [ 45…axb4 46.axb4] 46.a4+ Kb6



47. bxa5 or 47. Be7 is better.  Keep those black pawns stacked.

47… axb4 48.Kxb4 c5+ 49.dxc5+ Bxc5+ 50.Kb3 Bd6 51.Bf6 c5 52.Bd8+



52…Bc7 loses.  White will be able to march in with his king on b5 and sac the a pawn that the black king will have to chase after.  It’s difficult for white to make any progress after black plays 52…Ka6 or 52…Kb7.

53.a5+! The most forcing continuation Kc6 54.Bxc7 Kxc7 55.Ka4 d4 56.cxd4 cxd4 57.Kb3 Kc6 58.Kc4 1-0

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New DCCL Executive Director, Summer League Stuff, New Uniforms and First Win Vs Master

The recent DCCL executive and team meeting has just completed and a big change in the executive team has taken place.  After almost a decade of leadership and service long time Executive Director Kyle Askine has stepped down from the position.  From my position as a team captain, Kyle was extremely fair, responsive and just plain very good at the job of Executive Director.  When controversies came about through the last few seasons Kyle handled them flawlessly.   Kyle is not leaving the area or necessarily the league but is stepping down do to other obligations.  He plans to continue participating in the league as a player when possible.


Outgoing Executive Director Kyle Askine

Although Kyle will be missed  the league was lucky to get a new Executive Director who has excellent qualifications:  Andy Rea.  Andy who is a former President of the VA Chess Association,  published chess author, seasoned TD, National Master titled player and Argyle team captain is a great addition to the executive board.


Incoming Executive Director Andy Rea

Thank you Kyle and Congratulations Andy!

The DCCL summer season first round will start on June 19th.  Summer is a 4 round Swiss with 4 player boards in all divisions.  The other rounds are scheduled for, July 24th, August 14th and September 11th.  The new ED Andy would like all teams to be entered by June 10th so we can all know the pairings by then.  Cost of a 4 player team for the season is $24.00.

The only issue agreed upon at the recent DCCL executive meeting was team uniforms.  May sound absurd at first but a chess uniform is something that FIDE has actually discussed for some time.   Almost every other sport or game has this requirement .

Chess is unique as well in that lately the games very integrity has been under fire.  In the last 10 years with the advent of super strong chess computers, portable electronics , and million dollar prize funds the accessibility and motivation by some unscrupulous players to get outside assistance has never been greater.  It has also created an environment at times as well when honorable players are accused of foul play simply when they do well.   A strategy that FIDE has to counter this is uniforms with no pockets, or  location for concealed electronics while being  sporty at the same time.

The DCCL wanted to be ahead of the curve on this initiative so were rolling out the REQUIRED uniform look.

Basically, it’s much like the Luge uniforms at the Olympics.  A full bodied unitard will be required for each match.  Team name on the outfit is optional.


Expert Dino O. of the Sterling Skewers dressed in the new REQUIRED DCCL match uniform gear.

Dino of the Skewers  has already started wearing the new look at local tournaments.  I asked him about it and he said:  ” It’s an honor to be one of the first players to wear the FIDE approved chess uniforms.   I think it’s a good step to bring integrity back to tournament and team chess.   They are also extremely cool and awesome looking!”

So the general consensus is this look is the future of chess  and the league will not be left behind.

Ok so hope to see lots of new teams on June 19th in the summer league!

…and yes of course it’s a joke about the required uniforms ( No that’s not Dino), No major issues besides the election of the new Executive Director was determined at the last DCCL meeting.  Seriously, full bodied unitards?


Finally since we had no round this month I included a recent game by DCCL player Jian Xing.


USCF Expert Jian Xing

Jian is a frequent player  in the league.  Jian played for both Coral Reef and Black Knights this past season.  The game below was a ladder game played at the Arlington Chess Club on May 29th and he indicated it was his first time beating a master.  The ACC ladder is on every Friday at 8:00pm and it uses the same exact time control as the DCCL.  I was watching this game intently because well I was actually participating and the player getting  Zinged by Xing.

In a nutshell the game opened up quite quickly and became very sharp and unbalanced.  In positions like these tempo’s and simply active moves are usually an absolute necessity. After solid opening play white made a few not so aggressive moves that allowed black to get back  in the game while black played a little more reckless at times and missed 29…b3 a strong solution just before time control.

Xing,J 2079  Hoshall,S 2253      29.05.2015

1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.0-0 d6 Classical Dutch 7.Nc3 a5 8.b3 About as main line book vs Classical Dutch as you can get.

8…Ne4 9.Nxe4 Much more normal is 9.Bb2, but whites 9.Nxe4 is good as well.  It also creates a game that will open up quickly that is not typical of the more standard closed Classical Dutch systems. fxe4 10.Ne1 d5 11.f3 dxc4 [ 11…c5] 12.bxc4 c5?! Much more principled is moving the stacked and backward black e pawn to 12…e5 13.d5 exd5 14.cxd5 c4



may seem a little coffee house by Black. I say that because the position has opened up. Black does not have the luxury now to let his queen side minor pieces sit forever which often happens in the more closed variations of the Dutch.  Still on the surface it looks like black has a tactical solution to 15. fxe4 and that is 15…Qb6+ followed by …Bf6 trapping and winning the a1 rook.  Even that though seems to fail to a deeper combo by white ( See 15.fxe4 sub variation)

15.Be3 15. Be3 is a solid move and good solution simply developing [ 15.fxe4 Qb6+ 16.e3 Bf6 17.e5 Bxe5 18.Rxf8+ Kxf8 19.Rb1 Qxb1 20.Ba3+] 15…exf3 16.Nxf3 Ra6 17.Qd2 [ 17.Qc2 b5 18.a4] 17…b5 18.Nd4 Bd7 19.Rxf8+ Bxf8 20.Bf2?!

20.Bf2 is too, slow, White wants to get his center pawns rolling but better is a more active move like 20.Rf1 or 20.Be4. Rf6 21.e4 Qc7 [ 21…Rxf2 22.Qxf2 Bc5 23.Kh1 Qf6 24.Qxf6 gxf6] 22.Be3 White was understandably worried about black sacrificing the exchange on F2 but that exchange sac doesn’t quite work for black and this move doesn’t give white a lot of bang for the buck.  It also gives black another tempo to get his pawns closer to queening on the queenside. b4 23.Kh1?! The g1-h7 diagonal is scary for the white king to be on but white doesn’t have time to play this move. a4 [ 23…Bc5 24.Bf4 Rxf4 25.gxf4 c3 26.Qd3 Qxf4] 24.Bf4 Bd6 25.Bxd6 Qxd6 26.Re1 c3 27.Qe3 Qe5 28.Nf3



Exchange sac. The black pawns should be faster than whites center pawns and be very strong. 29.Qxf3 Be8?? 29..Be8 Black simply has no time to make this move ( idea was to bring knight to d7 after 30. Rf1).  29…b3 is probably just winning for black. The connected black c and b pawns on the 3rd rank are difficult to stop and even if white does stop them his pieces will be passively placed.  My original plan was to play 29…b3 but i was worried about the black knight hanging after 29. …b3, 30. Rf1,h6 31. Qf8+ but I overlooked the black queen on e5 protects the black knight on g8. [ 29…b3 30.axb3 axb3 31.Rf1 ( 31.Bf1 b2 32.Bd3 Ba4 33.Qf2 Nd7) 31…h6 32.Qf8+ Kh7 33.Qb4 b2 34.Qb3 Bb5]



A strong move I missed.  Now black never has enough time to play the desired …b3 push. Qf6 31.Qe3 Bf7 32.Qc5 Qe5 33.Qxb4 Bxd5 34.Qxa4



Could be dangerous taking the knight here and white wisely doesn’t complicate and take the bait. 35.Bg2 [ 35.Qxa6 Bxe4+ 36.Rxe4 Qxe4+ 37.Bg2 Qe1+ 38.Bf1 c2 And the game would be a draw] 35…Nc5 36.Qa5 Bc6 37.Qd8+ Kf7 38.Rf1+ Kg6



I saw this position a few moves ago and noticed after 39… c2 then  30.RxQ for white is not possible because of c1 =Q+.  The problem for black is however after 39…c2, 40. Qg5 check mate is even better than taking the black queen. Ne6 [ 39…c2 40.Rxe5] 40.Qh4 1-0

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2014-2015 Winter Season Complete! And the Champions are….


The 2014-2015 Winter season of the DC Chess league has completed and the results are IN!   In the Reserve section the Silver Knights won the title with Ali Thompson of the Silver Knights winning top board prize with 4 points.

In the DCCL Amateur section the GM’s repeated with an impressive overall match record of 7.5-.05 and a historic board winning record of 24.5-7.5.  A 76% winning clip that is the best in the last decade and probably a lot longer for that section.  Jonathan Bode and Ako Heidari both finished with  an impressive 6.5 points.

The Open section was not resolved until the final 9th round.  Ashburn Open was 1/2 point ahead of Coral Reef going into the round and a point ahead of the Argyles.  While the Argyles and Coral Reef were playing,  Ashburn faced the Mojo’s.  On paper it may have looked favorable for Ashburn Open.  Ashburn has the personnel on the roster to field 6 players with either the FIDE Master or National Master title while the Mojo’s many times don’t have a player rated over 2000.  Ashburn Open hadn’t lost a match all season while the Mojo’s had a board record of 9.5-29.5 after 8 rounds.   But the Mojo’s have played big spoilers before most recently in the Winter 2012-2013 season when they drew the league leading  Past Pawns just prior to the last round to knock them out of clear first.  Could they do it again?

When the smoke cleared at the end of the night in a very intense match the Mojo’s indeed drew the Ashburn Open (Great job Mojos! and as a player on the Ashburn team I can tell you we were losing most of the night) while the Argyles in an equally intense battle beat Coral Reef.

So Ashburn Open takes the coveted and historic Gold DCCL trophy for winning the Winter Open section passed down since 1954 and along with the other division champions, the Silver Knights Reserve and GM’s will be featured in the annual  4th of July parade on the “Champions of Chess float” in DC.

If you are participating on the float this year make sure to get your costume early and specify what piece you prefer to be ( Pawn, Rook, Queen, Knight etc)  but keep in mind you may be assigned a pawn costume anyway .  Please note we prefer to have more pawns than other pieces.

Actually I’m just kidding about the gold trophy and the float and parade and costume stuff but congrats to all.

Wanted to add as well my heart goes out to the Coral Reef team.  The last 3 seasons they have been in the position to either win or at least tie for the regular season top score going into the final match in the Open Section and have not won the title.  Wishing them the best of luck this summer and the 2015-16 Winter season.

Some pictures from the final 9th round will follow, along with a game by the top board prize winner for The Open section this 2014-2015 season  Fide Master Paolo Del Mundo from Ashburn Open who scored 6.5 out of 7 rounds played.

Paolo is Ashburn’s top board and I asked him to share the game below because I thought it was his best of the season.  At the time it was also a battle of undefeated players.



Mojo’s on the left Vs Ashburn Open:  Mojo’s pulled off the huge upset, the match was a tense hard fought draw.  Mojo players on right  from left to right: James Guill, Andrew Schechter,Adam Chrisney, Karl Peterson, David Siamon and Peter Snow. The lone Ashburn player in the picture is Scott Webster.


Victor Guzman of Ashburn Open  in the Green facing David Siamon of the Mojo’s.  David won the game.


Coral Reef facing the Argyles.  The Argyles won the match 4-2.  Coral Reef players on right  from Left to Right:  NM Leif Karell, NM Stan Fink, NM Greg Acholonu, FM John Meyer, NM Sal Rosario, IM Eugene Meyer. The lone Argyle is NM Alan Savage.


Argyle Captain and NM Andy Rea and Expert Tamara Balkhamishvili


Black Knights Vs The Fury:  Blacks Knights won the match 3.5-2.5.  The Fury finished their very first season a respectable 3-5 overall.  Fury players on right from left to right:  Experts Arthur Tang, Sean Senft and Chris Erikson.  Black Knights player shown is NM Dan Maxwell.


As previously mentioned below is top board prize winner in the Open,  FM Paolo Del Mundo’s game vs NM Andy Samuelson in a key 8th round match of the Argyles Vs Ashburn Open.  Annotation by FM Paolo Del Mundo.  I personally really liked this game and was impressed with how good blacks position got when the center opened up for his 2 bishops.


Fide Master Paolo Del Mundo

Samuelson,Andy  2337 del Mundo,Paolo 2378 DCCL 201518.04.2015 [Paolo]

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3



The only move that provided any chance of any action. I considered 3. … c6, but all the games from Chessbase looked pretty tame. 4.Nc3 Na5 5.Nge2 c6 6.a4 Nxc4 7.dxc4 Be7 [ 7…Bb4 Probably a better option. 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qd3 d6 10.Rd1 Be6 11.b3=] 8.0-0 d6 9.Qd3 0-0 10.b3 [ 10.h3 Be6 11.f4] 10…Qc7 11.Bb2 [ 11.h3 Rd8 12.Rd1 Be6 13.f4 d5 14.cxd5 cxd5] 11…Rd8 12.h3 Be6



The moment I’ve been waiting for! I had seen one of Andy’s games; he had a similar position against Larry Kaufman and opened on the kingside. So I knew he was gunning to play this. This seemed to be super dubious to me. Black has the two bishops and white just opened up his King. The next move was an easy one to make. d5! 14.cxd5 cxd5 15.exd5 Nxd5 16.Qg3 [ 16.Nxd5 Rxd5 17.Bxe5 Rxd3 18.Bxc7 Rd2I had seen up to this point, and I thought Black was doing great. However, white could try this: 19.f5 Bd7 20.Rad1 Rxd1 21.Rxd1 Bxf5 22.Nd4 Still probably better for Black. Bc5] [ 16.fxe5 Nxc3 17.Qxc3 Qb6+ 18.Kh1 Rac8]



17.Rf3 Nf5! [ 17…Nxc2]  18.Qe1 e4 19.Rf1 [ 19.Nxe4] 19…Ne3 20.Qg3 Nxf1 21.Rxf1 Now I just need to not lose. Bf6 22.Kh1 Kh8 23.Qe3 Qd7 24.Bc1 [ 24.Rd1 Qc6] 24…Bd4 25.Qxe4 Bf5 26.Qf3 Bxc2 27.Ba3 Bf6 28.Nb5 Qd3 29.Qg4 Bxb3 30.Bc5 Bxa4 31.Nxa7 Bd1 32.Rf2 Re8 33.Nc1


  1. Qd5 0-1
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DCCL’s Iron-Man: Andy Samuelson


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*.

Capture*Most games played in league since June 2012.  table does not include current winter season and part of prior summer season.

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?

Andy Samuelson

Andy Samuelson

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

[Andrew Samuelson]

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.]

13.g6 samuelson13.g6? This is not a good move, but it was my main idea behind Qg2.

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.]

21.e5 samuelson21.e5! Ignoring the threat! 21…b4 22.exd6 [22.Qa4 This is even stronger than exd6. Black can’t save everything. 22…Bd7 23.exf6 Rxf6 24.Nd5 Bxa4 25.Nxc7 Rxf3 26.Nd5 White is winning.;

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.Bd325.Bd3! This is a strong in-between move which threatens Bg6+, winning a rook.

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+ samuelson32.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

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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


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The GM’s are playing like GM’s in the DCCL Amateur section


The GM’s on the right vs the Arlington Bishops getting to work this past summer in the DCCL.

  The Amateur section has been surprisingly competitive the last 10 years or so ( Why do we call it the Amateur section? No one is a professional chess player in any of the other sections. But I digress…). Of the teams playing in the section: GM’s, Sterling, Ashburn, Arlington Bishops and Black Knights, all have won the division at least twice. That’s what I call balance.

This year however something unique is going on. The GM’s are simply rolling over everyone to a 5-0 match record and 17-3 individual game record. That’s an 85% game winning percentage. If you look at their matches as well, although they typically have a rating edge this season, it does not predict an 85% winning clip. Take a look at the last 8 winter league Amateur division champions winning percentage in the graph below.

A DCCL Table

Typically a division winner scores between 60 and 70% in their games. The GM’s are on pace to obliterate that with their 85% winning clip. Yes you may say there will be some regression to the mean with 3 matches left. That’s true but assuming a 66% winning percentage their last 3 matches (8-4 record)that would still finish them with a 78% winning percentage for the season which would give them the best winning percentage over the last decade at the very least. Congrats on a great season so far GM’s! Hope I didn’t jinx you guys.

Meanwhile the action is beginning to heat up in the Open section but no clear favorite has emerged. Six rounds have been complete but there are still 3 rounds to go so plenty of chess left. Three of the teams have however created some separation: Coral Reef and the Argyles only have 1 loss while my team Ashburn Open has only been nicked by a 1/2 point so far this season. The two preseason favorites in my humble opinion that I would have given the best odds to win: Silver Knights and Ashburn Junior find themselves both playing .500 ball at this point.

In the Reserve the Silver Knights Reserve team is taking control at 5-1. The Reserve section was unfortunately plagued by forfeits for awhile but seems to be turning around.

Plan to have another blog out in the next few weeks. Email me at shoshall@icloud.com with any games, ideas etc.

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