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Larkins Wins 56th Armed Forces Open Print E-mail
By Colonel David A. Hater, US Army   
October 15, 2015
Larkins vs. Barrias in the crucial last round battle.

Petty Officer First Class (retired) Larry R. Larkins won the 56th Armed Forces Championship held at Fort Belvoir, Virginia USO Center from October 10th-12th. The event coincided with National Chess Day on October 10.

Larkins won with a score of 4 ½ -1/2, but the result was in doubt until the final round.  Going into the final round, there were three experts all with 3 ½- ½.  The highest two rated experts played on board one and drew.  Air Force Captain Gordon Randall and Air Force Master Sergeant  (retired) Leroy Hill shared second place.  Larkins was paired down by points (to a 3-1) and by rating and won his game to take clear first.  Here is Larkins last round victory which sealed first place.


Since the tournament went to an open format in 1995, Larkins has now won or tied for first in four Armed Forces Championships.  He won the tournament clear first three times (2007, 2010 & 2015) and won first on tiebreaks 2008.  Larkins now has the most first place trophies and  is now closing in on the record held my Air Force Master Sergeant Robert Keough.  Keough  won it outright in 1999 and 2009 and tied for first in 2000 - first on tiebreaks and was in the tie but lost on tiebreaks in 2008 and 2013.  There are a total of three other players chasing these leaders.  Air Force Master Sergeant (retired) Dan Ranario has won the event three times taking first on tiebreaks in 2011 and 2013 and winning outright in  2012.  Cadet David Jacobs won three times in a row winning outright in 2005 and 2006 and taking first on tiebreaks in 2005.   This author also won the event three times (1996 and 2001 clear first and 1997 first on tiebreaks). 

This tournament has been held in multiple formats since 1960.  From 1960 to 1992, the tournament was sponsored and fully funded by the Department of Defense.  Those were the glory days and attracted many strong players including IM Emory Tate.  1993 was a transition year as the tournament was sponsored by the Department of Defense, but was not fully funded so was not fully attended.  The event was not held in 1994.  The US Chess Center and the American Chess Foundation started the event in its present format in 1995 and continued to hold the event until 2000. 

In 2001, the Department of Defense again started fully funding chess again so the US Chess Center and American Chess Foundation no longer saw the need to hold an Armed Forces Championship.  Not wanting to lose the open format, the Military Chess Committee of US Chess took over the tournament in 2001 and continues to hold the event as an open format.   

The event is also a team event.  The top six scores from each service are added to determine he team winner.  This year's team champion is he Air Force.  This year the Air Force team was anchored by the Hill and Randall. 

The tournament was co-organized by US Marine Corps Staff Sergeant (retired) John Farrell and  US Army Colonel (retired) Mike Hoffpauir.  Colonel Hoffpauir also directed the event  US Navy Captain (retired) Tom Belke has taken over as the current chair of the USCF Military Chess Committee, relieving Farrell.  Captain Belke hopes to bring the event back to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD next year.

The Armed Forces Open coincided with National Chess Day. See our big wrap-up of National Chess Day activities here.