Playoff Time in Open, GM’s Continue to Roll, and Sterling Sacs Great Season

Recently I was teaching chess to a very young child and mistakenly used the word “eating” when making a piece capture.   Trust me on this one, never use the word “eat” when teaching young children about captures.  The opposing piece can be taken but not eaten.  That is your advanced DCCL chess teaching tip of the day!

The final regular season round of the DCCL Summer league took place on Sept 11th. Once again the crew from George Mason came through in the Amateur section and steamrolled their way to a 5-0 final score beating the Sterling Skewers 2.5-1.5.

In 5 rounds they finished with an individual board score 12.5-3.5 a 78% winning percent overall ( See former blog on GMs to see how this % stacks up: . GM crew is back to back summer and winter champs which is a rare feat in the DCCL.

In the Open section 4 teams went into the final round tied at 2.5-.5. The four teams being the Sterling Sacs, Coral Reef, Forever Young and “Can you Smell What the Rook is Cooking?”( “Rook Cooking” was formerly named Ashburn Open).

Of all the teams who played for the title in the Open section on September 11th the Sterling Sacs have the most impressive story. They had a very hard schedule playing last year summer champs Argyles, then a very tough Ashburn Junior Squad ( see this link for an earlier blog on them: and the surprising Fury team to go 2.5-.5 vs these teams.

What makes this more amazing is Sterling did not win a match the entire previous winter season capturing a lone draw and 7 losses in 8 rounds. This summer though they were top dog going into the last round and potentially could have won the league if the cards fell in their favor.

This was certainly a Disney made for TV movie waiting to happen if they pulled out the victory. Unfortunately it was not to be with the “Sacs” losing to the Reef but clearly they have shown themselves to be a formidable team.

In the other top match of teams at 2.5-.5 “Rook Cooking” won decisively over Forever Young . The story here is the Rook Cooking team which is the same winter Ashburn Open championship team could repeat as Open champions.

Coral Reef and Rook Cookin will face off in a playoff at Arlington on October 2nd to determine the Open league champion. Because Coral Reef finished the regular season with the better record they will have draw odds. The pressure will be on the Rook Cooking squad to get a decisive result (and possibly come up with a better team name next season, haha, No, I take that back, cool name.)

In honor of Sterling’s great showing I’d like to add a game from the past from their frequent top board player FM Larry Gilden. Among other players in our league such as GM Larry Kaufmann and IM Eugene Meyer, FM Gilden is a veritable legend of US Chess. FM Gilden has played in US Championships in the 70’s and the famous Lone Pine tournaments in the 70’s as well. Lone Pine may not be remembered by the super young chess generation but to me it brings images of all the top players of that amazing era. FM Gilden had stepped away from tournament chess for many years but relatively recently has been playing actively. We are fortunate to have him playing in the DCCL.

Below I wanted to include a game of his from the US Open in 1972. Larry drew the formidable GM Ben Larsen in this tournament at the time. Larsen was one of the very top players in the world and if you have heard about him you know he (almost) never accepted draws. Amazingly three other current active players from the DCCL also faced Larsen in the 1972 US Open, Allan Savage, Eugene Meyer and Larry Kaufman. Larry Gilden was the only local player to steal a ½ point from the Great Dane in USOpen ‘72.

However the game below is a battle with another chess Icon at the time GM Walter Browne. Unfortunately as many of you know the great GM Browne, one of the most successful US players to ever play the game, passed away this year. In the 1972 US Open Browne was on his way to winning his second US Open in back to back years and rolling through the field. Although he did win in ‘72 he ran into formidable resistance from FM Gilden in the 12th Round.

This was a defensive game where Larry was able to quickly quiet down the position and not give Browne many chances. It may have frustrated Browne to where he lashed out and made an unsound sacrifice.

The game approach has similarities to the Ali/Forman, Rumble in the Jungle, “Rope a Dope” match where Ali won by forcing Foreman to throw too many punches and tire out. As I get older I appreciate the ability to play in this style. When I was younger it was all about attack, attack, attack. Not many can play this approach successfully as Gilden ( who is also a great attacking player) did in the game below.

Let’s go back to 1972 and check out the game (My brief annotations below):

White: Walter Browne


Black:  Larry Gilden


1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Alekhine’s Defence Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 Bg7 7.exd6

7. Ng5 is the main move in this position. [ 7.Ng5 e6 8.Qf3 Qe7 9.Ne4 dxe5 10.Bg5 Qb4+ 11.c3] 7…cxd6 8.0-0 0-0 9.Re1 Bg4 10.c3 Nc6 11.Nbd2

11...d5In 5 other games in this position in my database Black played 11…e5 blowing up the center. In this game Larry plays the more accurate but less intuitive prophylaxis move 11…d5 restricting the light squared bishop and keeping the center intact. d5 [ 11…e5] 12.h3 Bf5 13.Nf1 Na5 14.Ng3 Nxb3 15.axb3 Bd7 16.Bg5 f6 17.Bf4 Rf7 18.Qd3 White has more space and black is somewhat cramped but it’s difficult to see how white can make progress. Bc6 19.Qd2 Qf8 20.h4 Nd7 21.Re6 Qd8 22.Bh6 Nf8 23.Re2 a5 24.Bxg7 Kxg7 25.h5

25.h5It looks like white is making some progress. White has traded off the dark squared bishops which was a good defender for black and is now attacking the black king. White’s short range fighters the knights are also hanging out on the kingside. FM Gilden bends but does not break. a4 26.h6+ Kg8 27.bxa4 Rxa4 28.Rxa4 Bxa4 29.Re1 Bc6 30.Ne2 Qc8 31.b3 Qf5 32.Ng3 Qd7 33.Ra1 Qd8 34.Ra3 e6 35.Qa2 White has stacked his heavy pieces on the only open file but black has no glaring weakness to attack and the black pawns for the time being restrict the movement of the white knights on the kingside. Qd6 36.Ra8 Rd7 37.Qd2 Rd8 38.Rxd8

38.Rxd8Seems like a lot of effort by white to trade off blacks rook which wasn’t doing much. Perhaps GM Browne wanted to remove the rook from protecting blacks kingside. Qxd8 39.Nh2 Now the white knights start dancing around looking for better squares to harass the black king who has been pretty safe. Qc7 40.Ng4 Kf7 41.Qe3 Nd7 42.Ne2 Qd6 43.Nf4 So white has maneuvered his knights on more active squares ( From f3,g3 to f4, g4 pretty cool) to attack black but black has everything defended. Black has been patiently defending all game. g5 A slight inaccuracy 44.Nd3 Better in 44. Nh5 with a little pressure on the black king. [ 44.Nh5 Qf8 45.Ng7 Qd6 46.Qh3 Qe7 47.Qh5+ Kg8] 44…Bb5

44...Bb5After 45 moves of going against FM Gilden’s defensive play GM Browne makes an unsound ( But very tempting: white gets a couple pawns and exposed black king) sacrifice in an otherwise dead equal position. 45.Nde5+? [ 45.f4 Qa3 46.fxg5 Bxd3 47.Qxd3 Qc1+ 48.Qf1 Qxg5] 45…fxe5 46.Qxg5 Qf8 47.dxe5 Qg8 48.Qf4+ Ke8 49.Nf6+ Nxf6 50.exf6 Kf7 51.Qb4 Qe8 52.Qh4 Black is winning this position. The pawns on f6 and h6 are weak for white and the extra piece for black is telling. But it’s not an easy position to play for black. The white queen is still very active, the black king exposed and black must be very careful and watch out for tricks involving those advanced pawns and the white queen. Qg8 [ 52…Bd3! 53.Qd4 Bg6] 53.g4 [ 53.Qb4] 53…Qg6 54.g5 e5 55.Qg4

54.Qg4After 55… Qe4 the position would be hopeless for white. 1. If white trades queens he goes into a completely lost endgame where Black’s lone piece will win. 2. If white passively hides the white queen on the h file black has a winning attack and finally 3. If white plays actively with his queen with Qc8 in hopes of chasing around the exposed black king white actually loses quickly to a black attack starting with 56…Qe1+,

Bc6 [ 55…Qe4 56.Qc8 Qe1+ 57.Kg2 Qf1+ 58.Kg3 Qg1+ 59.Kf3 e4+ 60.Kf4 Qxf2+ 61.Ke5 Qg3+ 62.Kd4 Qg1+ 63.Ke5 Qxg5+] [ 55…d4] [ 55…e4] 56.f3 d4 57.cxd4 exd4 58.Kf2 Qc2+ 59.Kg3 Qd3 [ 59…Qxb3 60.g6+ hxg6 61.h7 Qe3 62.h8Q Qg1+ 63.Kh4 Qe1+ 64.Kg5 Qe5+ 65.Kh4 Qe1+] 60.Qh5+ Qg6 61.Qg4 Qd3 62.Qh5+

A great defensive gem by Gilden and ultimately a fortunate draw by Browne. Black can play on with advantage after 62….Kg8 ½-½

About shoshall

Father, Chess player and teacher, Securities trader
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