Reports | September 23, 2008 18:11

Kritz & Mikhalevski lead SPICE Cup

After four rounds GMs Leonid Kritz and Victor Mikhalevski are leading the 2nd SPICE Cup International Invitational Tournament, according to the organizers "the strongest field of chess grandmasters in U.S. round-robin history".

The second SPICE Cup is taking place 19-28 September at the Texas Tech University located in Lubbock, Texas. It's the main attraction of Texas Tech's annual SPICE Cup Festival. Other activities include the 2008 Texas Women's Open Championship, SPICE Cup Grand Prix, SPICE Cup Scholastic and SPICE Cup Amateur Under 1000 Open. SPICE stands for "Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence" at the Texas Tech University.

After the first SPICE Cup was won by GM Eugene Perelshteyn last year, for the second edition the organizers managed to bring together an interesting field again - and a very strong one, since the defending champion is the last seeded player this year!

Participants: Onischuk, Alexander (2670, USA), Pentala, Harikrishna (2668, IND), Kritz, Leonid (2610, GER), Akobian, Varuzhan (2610, USA), Kaidanov, Gregory (2605, USA), Becerra, Julio (2598, USA), Mikhalevski, Victor (2592, ISR), Miton, Kamil (2580, POL), Stefansson, Hannes (2566, ISL) and Perelshteyn, Eugene (2555, USA).

This makes the 2nd SPICE Cup a Category 15 round-robin ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú proudly called "the highest-rated tournament of its kind held on U.S. soil" - perhaps one of our readers can either confirm or counter this?

The results so far:

Round 1
Akobian 1-0 Perelshteyn
Becerra 1/2 Onischuk
Stefansson 1/2 Harikrishna
Kaidanov 0-1 Kritz
Mikhalevski 1-0 Miton
Round 2
Onischuk 1/2 Mikhalevski
Harikrishna 1/2 Becerra
Kritz 1/2 Perelshteyn
Kaidanov 1-0 Stefansson
Miton 1/2 Akobian
Round 3
Stefansson 0-1 Kritz
Akobian 1/2 Onischuk
Mikhalevski 1/2 Harikrishna
Becerra 1/2 Kaidanov
Perelshteyn 1/2 Miton
Round 4
Onischuk 1-0 Perelshteyn
Kritz 1/2 Miton
Harikrishna 1/2 Akobian
Kaidanov 0-1 Mikhalevski
Stefansson 1/2 Becerra


A selection of games from the first four rounds:

Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA

The participants of the second edition of SPICE Cup

The playing hall with round 1 being played

Akobian - Perelshteyn

Becerra - Onischuk

Kaidanov - Kritz

Mikhalevski - Miton

Stefansson - Harikrishna

...all fighting for this beautiful cup



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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


semipatz's picture

Self-correction: there are TWO players in the FIDE top 100 list, Onischuk and Harikrishna. My basic point still stands.

Mich Adams's picture

Stefansson vs Becerra-Rivero was a 10 move draw

Great fighting tournament!

Mickey's picture

San Antonio was definitely category 12. Mechanics Institute had a strong category 12 less than 10 years ago. So did Chess in the Schools in NY about 7 years ago. I don't believe the US even had a category 13 or 14 before.

I don't think the organizer claimed it's the strongest ever. That's subjective. I did a quick search on Polgar blog and this came up:

"This will make the 2008 SPICE Cup the highest rated 10 person International RR event in U.S. history."

CAL|Daniel's picture

@ Michel83

My comment was aimed at this guy "Jericho on 23 September 2008 16:12 PM What a bland lineup."

As per the false advertising... I don't know why anyone still expects the truth from Truong.

CAL|Daniel's picture

I disagree! Kritz, Onischuk and Akobian are always a good show.

Michel83's picture

@ CAL Daniel

Nobody (I think) is saying those are not strong players or that it is not a good show- it IS a nice tournament with a good line-up (Pentala, Akobian, Onischuk- for a patzer like me that's players I can learn a lot from).
It was just mentioned that the sponsors are maybe doing a little bit of exagerated publicity here if they praise this tournament THAT much, considered that there is no 2700+ player- it's a nice tournament but there's "better".
And the other thing mentioned was that the claim that it is the strongest tournament on american ground ever is simply factually wrong.

semipatz's picture

Bottom line: there is only one player in the FIDE top 100 list.

Susan Polgar, as usual, is better at publicizing herself than at telling the truth.

Michel83's picture

@ semipatz

Although you have to admit she is quite good at it... ;)

Still, I think it is not a bad line-up, it's a nice tournament; it's only that other tournaments have a similary nice line-up. But they don't have Susan Polgar making the advertisement. :D

Jericho's picture

What a bland lineup.

Ben's picture

Cambridge Springs in 1904 had 7 of the world's top ten players in its 16 player round robin, including world champion Lasker - this has 0 of the world's top ten. Neither tournament is all-American. In fact, I'm not sure there is a native American GM (maybe Eugene Perelshteyn?) in this one.

San Antonio, Texas (same state as this event) had a 16-player round robin in 1972 with the likes of Portisch, Petrosian, Karpov, Gligoric, Keres, Browne, Larsen, and Mecking (with Fischer in the audience).

I would say that the US Championships of the 1990s were stronger, though I don't know the precise FIDE ratings of the players. lists the tournaments Kaidanov played in which is most of those round robins - they seem to be stronger, but hard to quantify.

Bottom line, the sponsors might be right if they don't adjust for rating inflation, and even then I have high doubts. If you do adjust and look at the participant's strength compared to the rest of the world/nation, the claim would be absurd.

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