Reports | October 17, 2012 19:01

So & Vachier-Lagrave lead SPICE Cup at half-time

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Wesley So are sharing the lead after five rounds at the SPICE Cup in St. Louis. Both GMs scored 3/5 in an event that's full of draws and fighting chess at the same time.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave & Wesley So drew in round 3 | Photos courtesy of the SPICE Cup & Susan Polgar

Event SPICE Cup | PGN via TWIC
Dates October 11th-17th, 2012
Location St. Louis, Missouri (USA)
System 6-player round robin
Players Le Quang Liem, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Ding Liren, Csaba Balogh, Wesley So, Georg Meier
Rate of play

40 moves in 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes to finish the game with a 30-second increment starting at move 1

Extra Players are not allowed to offer a draw.


This month Webster University and the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE) are again bringing together six young and strong grandmasters – including two Webster students – to Webster’s home campus. They are competing in the 2012 SPICE Cup Invitational, which happens to be the highest-rated chess tournament of its kind in U.S. history. The participants are:

  • Le Quang Liem (Vietnam), the defending SPICE CUP Invitational champion, Vietnamese champion and No. 1 player in Vietnam.
  • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), former World Junior champion and French champion and No. 1 player in France.
  • Ding Liren (China), three-time and reigning champion of China, and the No.3 Junior in the world.
  • Csaba Balogh (Hungary), member of the Hungarian National chess team and chess author.
  • Wesley So (Philippines), national champion, No. 1 player in the Philippines and a Webster University freshman.
  • Georg Meier (Germany), European team champion and Webster University sophomore and co-captain of the Webster University chess team.

The opening reception was held at Polgar's home. 6 balls (1-6) were hidden in 6 pockets of the pool table. By random order, the players picked a pocket of their choice.

Susan Polgar, who hardly needs an introduction here, and her SPICE program, relocated to Webster University from Texas Tech University on June 1 2012. In addition, all key members of the reigning national collegiate champion Texas Tech “A” chess team transferred to Webster and are now enrolled at the University. Webster’s team includes eight GMs and two IMs.

The SPICE team is designed to promote chess as a vehicle for global diversity and academic excellence, for enriching the education of children and for promoting women’s chess. Webster University is a private, non-profit university in St. Louis.

Enough background information, let's look at some chess. The drawing percentage of 73.3% (4 decisive games out of 15 so far) might scare you away from reading further, but in fact so far this tournament has shown amazing fighting spirit among the participants. The first game we give is a good example – absolutely fascinating to play through!

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The playing hall during round 1

In the second round Vachier-Lagrave again had to play with the black pieces. He defended the infamous f+h rook ending to a draw:

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Le Quang Liem vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Georg Meier won against the Chinese Champion in a Classical King's Indian with 7...exd4. The German GM's novelty was a somewhat "mysterious rook move".

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Georg Meier in his game against Ding Liren

In the third round the following draw was a hyper-sharp affair.

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Ding Liren vs Le Quang Liem

Wesley So defeated the tournament leader in round 4. Meier's pawn sac on move 16 didn't really work out for him.

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Wesley So at the start of this French game

The next day Meier suffered another loss. This time he was the one grabbing a pawn in the opening, but already slightly under pressure he missed a tactic.

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Meier vs Vachier-Lagrave analyzing their game

Ding Liren won his first game in his trademark attacking style: 

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Ding Liren vs Csaba Balogh

SPICE Cup 2012 | Results & standings




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.


Anonymous's picture

I thought Wesley So was all washed up. What happened?

See's picture

Your thought is wrong. Have you seen his record this year? Obviously, you are not a chess fan or player for you issue a statement without knowing the facts.

WESO's picture

it's ur brain that is all washed up.

Anthony Migchels's picture
Anonymous's picture

"Wesley So defeated the tournament in round 4."


MW's picture

Happy to see this site doesn't appear to be inundated with So fanboys.

Zeblakob's picture

LOL@Susan kibitzing ...

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