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Robson and Vachier-Lagrave Win at SPICE Print E-mail
By GM Ben Finegold   
October 24, 2012
Ray250.jpg
GM Ray Robson turns 18 today. Here he is at the 2012 Olympiad, Photo Tony Rich of CCSCSL
The Annual Spice Cup event has moved from Lubbock, TX to Saint Louis, MO, along with SPICE (Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence). Unlike previous editions, this year’s tournaments (October 16-20) saw two groups, a Super Group A and an Open, for players 2300+ FIDE (with some exceptions).  The A group was the highest rated round-robin ever held (by FIDE rating) in the U.S. and the Open had free entry for all and a $10,000 prize fund.  This was a great opportunity for players to earn norms.

The A group had a no draw rule, but, unfortunately, there were simply too many draws for my taste.  I am not sure what the problem was, but for the most part the games were insipid. Winning the event was French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, with an undefeated 2 wins and 8 draws.  Also going undefeated and sharing second was Vietnamese GM, and 2013 Webster Freshman (!) Le Quang Liem, who had 1 win and 9 draws! Rounding out the field were Chinese GM Ding Liren, German GM (and Webster student) Georg Meier, Hungarian GM Csaba Balogh, and Top Philippine player and Webster Freshman Wesley So.

Wesley was having a great event, until he lost the following ending to Vachier-Lagrave in round 8, which had a great impact on the final standings:
 
Wesley So- Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

 SoVachier1.jpg 
36... Rac7
This position should be a draw after most reasonable moves, but
time trouble looms...
37. Re1? Bh4! 38. g3 Rxh2!

Ouch!
39. Kg1?

The best try to hold is 39.d5! [39. gxh4 Rcc2 40. Kg1 Rxb2 41. Rxb2 Rxb2 is very good for black, since the white king is cut off and white's 4th rank pawns are all weak.  
39... Bxg3 40. Rxg3 Rxb2 
rxb2vachierso2.jpg
Black won pretty easily after the time control was reached here.
41. Rg2 Rb4 42. Rd1 Rd7 43. Rgd2 f6 44. Kg2 fxe5 45. fxe5 h5 46. d5 Re4 47. d6 Rxe5 48. Kf3 Kf6 49. Rd3 Rf5+ 50. Ke4 g5 51.Rh1 h4 52. Rc1 Re5+ 53. Kf3 Rd5 0-1

Ding Liren, one of my favorite players, was feeling ill throughout the event (I heard him coughing often during his games) and although did not start well, still finished the event with +1 and =2nd.

The Spice Cup Open was more interesting (42 player events seem to always have more interest than 6 player events).  There were many stories of intrigue in the Open. There were five women, several juniors, and 13 Grandmasters.  Many norm-seekers, and many students from Webster and Lindenwood University.

I was not going to play originally, but since one player did not show up for round one, I was needed to avoid an odd number, and therefore byes. After receiving a half-point bye in round one, I played the next 8 rounds, and was able to only lose once! But the story of event was Webster freshman (and Wesley So roommate) Ray Robson.  Ray just had a fantastic Olympiad, and after 3 rounds I was certain he was the favorite. Ray was playing excellent chess, and finished in clear first with 5 wins and 4 draws, winning the $4,000 first prize.

The big surprise of the event was IM Vitaly Neimer, another Webster student.  Although rated under 2400, he scored a GM norm, playing 8 GMs in a row, simply amazing!  He went undefeated with 3 wins and 6 draws.



My son Spencer had a great event as well.  Rated under 2100 FIDE and about 2225 USCF, Spencer scored 4 out of 9, and beat his first IM!  Here was a great finish from one of his 3 wins:

 Spencer300.jpg
 Spencer Finegold vs. Inna Agrest
 FinegoldAgrest.jpg
55. Qc8+ Black is much worse after 55...Qf8. Instead the game ends spectacularly after.... Kg7 56. Qh8+!! 1-0

I scored +2, and gained a few rating points.  My favorite game was against IM Mogranzini from Italy.



A huge congratulations to Kayden Troff, Nolan Hendrickson, and Aman Hambleton who all earned IM norms.

Find the complete crosstables on MSA and find GM Ben Finegold on his website. You can also follow Ben on twitter, along
with the USCF @USchess. 
 
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