Larry Larkins: 2010 US Armed Forces Champion Print E-mail
By Lt Col Douglas Taffinder   
October 25, 2010
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Lt Col Douglas Taffinder presenting the 1st place trophy to Mr Larry Larkins.
Larry Larkins won the 51st U.S. Armed Forces Open Chess Championship (USAFOCC) at Joint Base Andrews MD, 9-11 October 2010.  This marks his third championship in four years.  Franco Jose and John Farrell finished a half point back (5-1) to tie for 2nd-3rd.  The U.S. Air Force Academy also won the Commander in Chief’s Trophy, narrowly outscoring the U.S. Military Academy.  Samuel Perez won the Armed Forces Open Blitz Championship while Kiel Russell and Franco Jose tied for 2nd-3rd.
 
Larkins annotated his key victory for CLO:

Going into the 6th round, Leroy and I were tied for first with 4.5 points. There were 4 others with 4.0 points being paired. I saw that I had a nice tiebreak advantage over Leroy but two of the players at 4.0 were very close to me. I decided that a draw might cost me a chance at the championship. Therefore, I needed to imbalance the position when the opportunity arise and create some chaos on the board. Of course, this can lead to losing too. Rather have a shot at winning than no chance at all. Unfortunately for me the chaos started a little too early as I was due white but ended up playing black.

 



1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4 8.cxd4 f6
Not afraid of 9. Nf4 as this allows the type of imbalanced game I am seeking.
9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Nf3 Bd6 11.0-0 Qc7 12.Bg5 0-0 13.Bh4 Nh5 14.Bg3
14. Qc2 is played more frequently
14...Nxg3
According to the database Black and White have equal chances of winning here.
15.hxg3 a6
Technically out of book, but I find that a6 is very useful. 15)...Qb6 is interesting alternative here. 15)...g6 is book.
16.Rc1 g6 17.Qd2 Qg7 18.Qe3 Bd7 19.Rfe1 Rae8 20.Nc3 Re7
Need to guard the white bishop with the rook to discourage any Na4 move.
21.Re2
21.Na4 Nxd4 22.Nxd4 Bxa4 Rybka 4 gives Black .74 advantage
21...Ref7 22.Rd2
Decision time, h6 or Bb8 are definitely playable or
22...Rxf3
This opportunity to imbalance the position might not come around again. This complicates the position and creates tactical possibilities available for both sides. Exactly what I wanted.
23.gxf3 Nxd4
23....g5 is considered stronger by Rybka4 but it is still pretty even.
24.Be2
24.f4 should be considered.
24...Bc5 25.Qd3
Not entering the complicated Nxd5 line. Maybe assuming that the two rooks will eventually tell later in the game.
25...Bb6
Rybka 4 likes Ba7 a little more, I like the Bishop here as it has more diagonals but it is more exposed
26.Kg2 Bc6 27.Re1 e5 28.Bd1
An almost ideal position for Black, the knight is dominating the White position. The question is how to proceed.
28...g5
This move while not best does pressures the white king and the f3 square.
29.Qe3?
If 29. Na4 simply Ba7 keeps the pressure on. 29. Rh1 seems best but h6 and the white rook looks misplaced. Unfortunately for White 29. Qe3 is a mistaken calculation.
29...Nxf3 30.Qxb6
Here White is expecting ...Nxe1+ with a relatively even game, but
30...Nxd2!
This move gives Black the material advantage and threatens to win material and mate threats.
31.Bb3 Qf7
Two threats exist, Nxb3 if Qxb3 then f2 is unguarded, if ab3 then d4+ and f2 is again unguarded. 31...Qf6 is considerably stronger.
32.Rxe5
32. Nd1 is forced but it still is over.
32...Nxb3 33.Rxg5+ Kh8 34.f4 d4+ 35.Kh2 dxc3 36.bxc3 Qd7 37.Qf2
Qd2 38.Qxd2 Nxd2 39.Rc5 Rf6 40.Kg1 Rh6 41.Ra5 Rh1+ 42.Kf2 Rh2+ 43.Ke1 Bb5 0–1

The USAFOCC is the nation’s largest, free, Military-oriented Chess tournament and is open to all Active Duty, Retired and Reserve players.  The U.S. Chess Federation’s Military Chess Committee is the supervising body for this event, which is always held in the DC area on a rotating schedule between volunteer representatives (usually retirees) from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

The USAFO typically has between 60 and 80 participants from across the nation.  The event also features the Service Academy Chess Championship where Cadets, Midshipmen and ROTC (with DOD ID) will battle for the “Commander in Chief’s Trophy” (sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton) as well as representing their respective services in the team competition.  Other scheduled events include the Friday night Warm-up tournament and the annual USAFO Blitz (speed chess) championship.   The USAFO is a full weekend that offers the unique opportunity to meet and compete with previous, current and future military chess champions.

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Larkins at the board
We have developed a novel team scoring system that allows an individual event such as the USAFOCC to determine a team championship (Commander in Chief’s Trophy) at the same time.  The Military Chess Committee is working a proposal to incorporate this system into the next USCF Rulebook.

The Military Chess Committee wishes to recognize and extend special thanks to the Joint Base Andrews Commander and supporting staff for extending hospitality to the Military Chess community for this event. The United States Marine Corps will host the 52nd USAFOCC during Columbus Day Weekend of 2011.  Mr John Farrell, as the next Military Chess Committee Chairman, is that event’s chief organizer.

This year's event coincided with National Chess Day. USCF board member and National Chess Day and military chess advocate (for a CLO blast from the past, see his article on the US Armed Forces Championship from 2006!) Michael Atkins attended the event and took a few photos, including the one of Larkins at the board. Atkins recently received a framed copy of the National Chess Day resolution, signed by West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, "I'm so glad this passed." We are too!

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October - Chess Life Online 2010

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