|Le Quang Liem Wins SPICE Cup|
|By Zachary Haskin|
|October 26, 2011|
Texas Tech University and the Susan Polgar Foundation hosted the 5th Annual SPICE Cup from October 15-25. This year’s festival had three Invitational sections, a FIDE Open, a Scholastic Championship, and an Invitational Blitz, with some exciting matches. The A group was a 6 player double round robin event with an average rating of 2656 FIDE, making the Category 17 tournament the highest rated International Invitational round robin in United States history. With no draw offers before move 30 and the increasingly popular scoring system of three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss, spectators were guaranteed to see some fighting chess. Fourteen of the 30 games in the A group ended with decisive results, and no competitor was able to escape the tournament without a loss.
The top grandmasters came from all over the world to compete. Le Quang Liem of Vietnam and Leinier Dominguez of Cuba came in as the first and second seeds respectively, both with FIDE ratings above 2700. Both are well known and respected players. Liem has twice won the very strong Aeroflot Open (in 2010 and 2011), while Dominguez reached the quarterfinals in the 2004 FIDE World Chess Championships and has been a member of the 2700+ club for quite some time. Sebastien Feller of France and Georg Meier of Germany (who is a freshman at Texas Tech) boast mid to high 2600 ratings that put them in the top 100 in the world, and they both play on their respective Olympic teams. Well-known American talents Yury Shulman and Ray Robson, who need no introduction to our readers, rounded out the field.
Liem took the lead early, winning his first two games against Shulman and Meier. Dominguez kept close and took the lead after a nice victory against Liem in round five with the white pieces, which you can see in an earlier article about the SPICE Cup.
Liem quickly bounced back, striking again versus Shulman in round 6. Dominguez was quick to follow with an interesting victory versus Robson in the seventh round, who blundered with 19.Kf2? After 19…Bxe6 20. Rbe1, can you find black’s winning move?
Robson-Dominguez, Round 7, after 20. Rbe1, Black to move
Meier, who had been battling a cold the first half of the tournament, made a late run to join Dominguez and Liem at the top after beating Robson and Shulman. Going into the last round, Dominguez was in the lead with 15 points, while Liem and Meier were a point behind with 14 each. Liem and Dominguez faced each other in the last round for all the marbles. Both players fought valiantly for the win, knowing that a draw would give Meier, who was playing with black versus Feller, a chance to take a come from behind victory. In the end, Meier and Feller drew, while Liem managed to get the victory over Dominguez and win the SPICE Cup with a beautiful mating attack.
After the powerful in-between move 29.Bc3! mate was inevitable. It's worth a diagram of its own.
Liem is a very respectful player both on and off the board. I was able to speak with him and his mother on various occasions throughout the tournament, and both were friendly and excited to take part. A hard worker currently ranked 25th in the world, Liem is a true fighter. At only 20 years of age, I’m sure we’ll see Liem competing at the top level for many years to come.
In the B group, Grandmaster Anatoly Bykhovsky, a sophomore at Texas Tech from Israel, blazed through the competition, winning the event with an undefeated 6.5 out of 9 (the other groups used the traditional scoring format). International Master Roberto Morgranzini of Italy finished second with 6 points, earning his first GM norm. One ending stood out amongst all of the others in the B group. Can you find the way for white to hold the draw?
Amanov-Milman, B Group Round 6 after 60… Kg7?
Grandmaster Ben Finegold won the C group with 6.5 of 9. In the SPICE Cup FIDE Amateur Open, Fide Master Jeffrey Xiong won with an impressive 5.5 of 6. All of the events were sponsored by Texas Tech University, the Susan Polgar Foundation, and the Knight Raiders chess team. The games can be found at www.monroi.com. Thank you to all of those who made this event a huge success!
Group A Final Standings
Group B Final Standings
Group C Final Standings
Over 1,150 pictures can be seen here on Picasa Gallery A and B. Zach Haskin is a senior at Texas Tech University from Wichita Falls, Texas. He is currently studying Spanish and is a member of the Knight Raiders chess team.