Kayden Troff on GM Norm #2
By Kayden Troff   
October 24, 2013
Kayden with his Mom

Is there such a thing as a “good luck” tournament?  If there is, the SPICE Cup Open may very well be that tournament for me! Last year, I achieved my goal for the tournament by earning an International Master Norm, and this year I was able to secure my second Grandmaster Norm. 

In last year’s tournament, I also had a chance for a GM norm with a win in the final round against GM Victor Mikhalevski.  In that game, I had the draw and decided to push for the win to try to get the norm, but pushed a little too hard and lost.  This year, I needed a draw to secure the norm and was able to get the win.

The Spice Cup Open has proven to have good norm possibilities, but besides that, I enjoy playing in this tournament.  The strength of players at the Spice Cup is always top-quality.  I have great respect for them as players and for the Webster program as a whole.  With the inclusion of other very strong titled players, it makes for a challenging and hard fought game every game and a tournament definitely to look forward to. I had been working extremely hard on my chess and was looking forward to really putting it to the test since I hadn’t had the possibility to play in a tournament for a couple of months.  I had the chance this tournament to play 9 titled players: 2 WIMs, an IM-elect, and 6 Grandmasters. 

Honestly, with 14 strong GMs playing in the tournament, I had not even paid attention to what the prize money was. My goal was to fight hard, play good chess, and hopefully come away with a norm in the process. After round 6, I was surprised to see I was tied for first.

In round 7 and 8 I drew, but so did all the other top boards with the exception of GM Alexander Ipatov who won his game in the eighth round giving him a half point lead going into the final round.  Other players asked me if I only needed a draw to get the norm.  When I told them I did, they asked who I was playing.  And after I told them that, the response was always, “Ohhh……”  I found out (numerous times) that GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez is known as someone who always fights for the win.  I played him in my last tournament so I knew he was a tough player.
GM Jiminez Corrales and IM Kayden Troff

I went into the game determined though very nervous.


The opening was very unusual, but I felt comfortable as we went into the middle game.  He never fully coordinated his pieces in the opening so I was trying to take advantage of that.  Once the time was right, I broke open the middle and because of the awkward placement of his pieces, he couldn’t avoid losing material.  Throughout the game, my focus was to play solid and not really give him any initiative, and suddenly I was the one with the initiative and playing for the win.

When it was over, I had the win, I had the norm, and I had tied with GM Ipatov for 1st place.

I definitely want to thank the Kasparov Chess Foundation and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis as my sponsors who have done so much to advance my chess. I also want to thank, the organizers of the tournament, GM Susan Polgar and Paul Troung, for an amazing tournament once again.