The 2011 SPICE Cup
By Ben Finegold, Grandmaster, special to the Beacon
Posted 1:08 pm Tue., 10.18.11

This week I am in Lubbock, Texas, for the annual SPICE Cup Chess Tournament. SPICE stands for Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence, an organization devoted to the promotion of chess education and outreach headquartered at Texas Tech University. Susan is a former Women’s World Champion who works alongside her husband, Paul Truong, (a strong chess master in his own right) to organize all sorts of tournaments, chess classes and chess camps. The SPICE Cup is, by far, the strongest tournament they organize, and it is one of the strongest tournaments held annually in the U.S. each year.

This year there are three different sections, each with several grandmasters. The strongest section features six players, who are all extremely strong grandmasters. They are playing a double round robin (each player plays everyone twice, once with white, once with black). Two players in the top group are making their American debut: Leinier Dominguez of Cuba and Le Quang Liem of Vietnam. Both are in the top 50 in the world.

Many of the players in Lubbock have played at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis in one (or more) of our strong events. The players include Ray Robson, Yury Shulman, Mesgen Amanov, Darwin Yang, Josh Friedel, Kayden Troff and Eugene Perelshteyn.

I am playing in the lowest group (Section C), which consists of 10 players, each playing a single round robin. My section has four grandmasters and several players looking to score well enough to earn a grandmaster performance, or “norm.” In fact, I scored my final grandmaster performance in this very tournament in 2009.

Chess lovers all over the world are watching the action live over the Internet at Pictures, videos, games and standings can be found at Susan Polgar’s blog.

The tournament is at the half-way point as of Monday night, and I am in first place (!!) with 4 points out of a possible 5 with three wins and three draws. There are four games left, so hopefully I can maintain my current good form.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, I will present a lecture about this tournament at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis at 7 p.m. Hopefully the Cardinals will have already clinched their 11th World Series title by that time (game seven is scheduled then). Lectures are free for club members, and memberships start at just $5/month for students or $12/month for adults. Wish me luck!


Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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