2013 VA Senior Open

The website of the Virginia Chess Federation website (http://vachess.org) proclaims “FM Larry Gilden wins,” but the crosstable shows a three-way tie with Expert William Marcelino and Class ‘A’ player Harry S Cohen, all scoring 3 ½-1/2. Marcelino took the prize for Top Virginian, while FM Gilden was also the top scoring 70+! Five players tied for fourth including Expert Leif Kazuo Karell, who took the prize for the 60-69 age group. Thirty six players competed.
The name Larry Gilden may not seem familiar to most of you, but it brought back memories to me. It has been decades since I have heard his name. Seeing it sent me to the USCF website where I punched his name into the “players & ratings” and found “There are a total of 3 events for this player since late 1991.” After not playing for decades, Larry played in a quick tournament in September of 2012. He next took part in The Cherry Blossom Classic in April where he won his first three games, but lost his next three. One of the losses was to the eventual winner, Sean Vibbert, and another to IM Justin Sarkar. By now you must be asking yourself, “Who is Larry Gilden?” From: Dr. Mark Ginsburg presents A Personal Chess History (http://nezhmet.wordpress.com/category/chess-players/larry-gilden/)
Before the current day US Chess League, there was the pre-Internet phone matches conducted between various cities in the National Chess League. Here is a photo of the 1976 season winners, the Washington Plumbers (so named after Nixon’s squad of burglars who broke into the Watergate hotel and started the snowball of corruption that sank the Nixon presidency). The photo was taken at the “It’s Your Move” chess club in Georgetown, Washington DC – this club has long been defunct, the victim of rising rents in popular Northwest Washington. Next to John is senior master Larry Gilden with his hand in the plunger, a player with one of the highest ratings in the country in the early 1970s. As Charlie Hertan writes recalling 1972, “Senior masters were very rare in those days, and except for national tournaments like the U.S. Open or fledgling World Open, you wouldn’t expect to see more than one, sometimes two, at a weekend event. Larry Gilden was usually the top-ranked player, with a “monster” rating of about 2410.”
I urge you to click on the link and take a look at the picture, a real piece of chess history. There is much more on Larry Gilden at Dr. Ginsberg’s site, and also much more on the history of our game, a personal history that could become lost but for the efforts of people like Mark Ginsburg. I played for the Atlanta Kings team in the telephone league that year, and can still recall vividly the amusement cause by the name of the D.C. team. If there had been some kind of award for best team name, the Plumbers would have won it unanimously!
There were thirty players at the Tennessee Senior held in Crossville during May, with twenty two at the 5th Annual South Carolina Senior Open in April. Contrast that with the small turnout of fifty seven at the recently completed US Senior in Tarrytown, NY. It is over a week now since the US Senior ended and there has still been no mention of it at the website of the USCF, which goes to show that Senior chess is the Rodney Dangerfield of USCF chess, because, “It don’t get no respect.” I had trouble locating the crosstable because it is listed under “US Senior & US Junior Open.” At least “Senior” is listed first. It is glaringly obvious Senior chess is not first and foremost with the United States Scholastic Chess Federation!
It is obvious the South is leading the nation when it comes to Senior chess. The glaring omission is the great State of North Carolina, surrounded as it is on all sides by other Southern States with Senior tournaments. It is also disappointing to see a state with such a large chess community as Florida, known as a retirement state, without a Senior tournament. I played in a Texas Senior tournament over a decade ago. Now if the Great States of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana hold a Senior tournament we will have the makings of what Arlo Guthrie called a “movement.” (http://songmeanings.net/songs/view/71247/)
I include a couple of URL’s, each containing an annotated game by Senior players:
http://sgchess.net/2013/06/12/662-kingside-offensive/
http://chess.ca/newsfeed/node/58

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