Reports | October 22, 2012 16:03

Vachier-Lagrave takes clear first in SPICE Cup

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave has won the 2012 SPICE Cup Invitational with 6 out of 10, remaining undefeated throughout the event. His main rivals, Vietnamese GM Le Quang Liem, the winner of last year’s edition, and Chinese GM Ding Liren shared the second place with half a point less 5.5 out of 10.

Susan Polgar and the winner Maxime Vachier-Lagrave with his trophy | 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.


By IM Robert Ris

Halfway the tournament Vachier-Lagrave still had to share the lead with Wesley So, but their personal encounter proved decisive for the final ranking. The Frenchman wrote on Twitter that his play in the second half of the tournament was more convincing, but the only game he won, he was in real danger:

PGN string

As mentioned in our first report, the high drawing percentage doesn’t reflect the fighting spirit of the promising youngsters. In the second half of the tournament only three (out of 15) more decisive games followed. Vachier-Lagrave had a very interesting game with Le Quang Liem in a Najdorf with 6.h3, which ended finally in a repetition of moves.

PGN string

Vietnamese GM Le Quang Liem pondering what to play against the Najdorf with 6.h3

Ding Liren’s victory over Georg Meier certainly has to be studied by theoreticians interested in the Vienna Queen's Gambit.

PGN string.

Ding Liren in his usual attacking style

Le Quang Liem scored his only win in the ninth round against the Hungarian Csaba Balogh, whose king never found a safe place.

PGN string

Leading the field by half a point, Vachier-Lagrave opted for a risk-free variation in the last round against Meier. The Frenchman, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on this day (congratulations!), couldn’t get really anything tangible and with precise play Meier managed to neutralize White’s pair of bishops. With this result Vachier-Lagrave secured tournament victory, since his main competitors Le Quang Liem and Ding Liren weren’t able to force anything with the black pieces against Wesley So and Csaba Balogh respectively.

Besides the round-robin a strong 9-round Swiss open took place at the same time, which was convincingly won by US team-member GM Ray Robson with 7 points. His clear first place was rewarded with $ 4,000. On the second place ended Cuban GM Fidel Corrales Jimenez with 6.5 out of 9, half a point ahead of GMs Alejandro Ramirez and Victor Mikhalevski and Israeli IM Vitaly Neimer, who obtained a GM-result.

Players analyzing their games: Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley So, Georg Meier, Ding Liren and, standing,
Victor Mikhalevski, Roberto Mongranzini, Martha Fierro and Susan Polgar

All players at the stage, Vachier-Lagrave receiving his prizes

View from the playing hall

SPICE Cup 2012 | Final standings

Robert Ris's picture
Author: Robert Ris

Robert Ris is an International Master, professional trainer and teaches in schools, clubs and individually. He is one of the editors of ChessVibes Openings and ChessVibes Training and from time to time also writes book reviews. Other interests: travelling, sports and Greek food.


sulutas's picture

The player who has impressed me recently is Ling Diren - I hope to see him in strong tournaments, soon. Like, what about the next Wijk Aan Zee?

Hugh Jass's picture

this yearly spice thing must be the most uninteresting tournament in world chess each year, desperately tried to be hyped up and failing

Abbas's picture

Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted.

Why is that?

Morley's picture

No crosstable?

Peter Doggers's picture

We had some technical issues but now it's there!

Morley's picture

Awesome, thanks :-)

Morley's picture

Bazna is back on, just so everyone knows. It lost its top two seeds though, since cancellation (Anand and Carlsen) but still remains strong.

redivivo's picture

It even lost the four originally top seeded players since also Radjabov and Karjakin are absent now, and in spite of some good replacements it looks far from as interesting as it would have been with the original field and six participants.

Thomas's picture

I wonder why the field was reduced to four participants - financial considerations or to give Caruana and Ivanchuk a somewhat longer break (now seven rather than four days) before the second FIDE Grand Prix in Tashkent? Anyway, good news (and a matter of pride for the organizers?) that it happens at all.

BTW, at the FIDE Grand Prix Gashimov has been replaced by ... Kamsky (for the time being only for this event).

Morley's picture

Well, I know that Carlsen has filled his calender with other events (rapid and promotional), which is understandable considering this tournament was postponed a while ago. It makes sense for him to have made other plans. Radja, Karjakin, and Anand aren't as public with their plans, I am not sure what they are up to. It looks like the Bazna organizers put the tournament back on with pretty short notice, so it makes sense that not everyone could re-commit so quickly. I for one am glad to have the event, especially given Topalov's apparent resurgence and Caruana's continuing rise.

Boybawang's picture

Interestingly, the players Ratings perfectly reflect their final standings!!!

Anonymous's picture

Susan Polgar is doing some great things for chess! Just look at all this talent being centered at Webster. Just incredible!

Bobby Fiske's picture

Susan Polgar must be the strongest force in chess today, off the board. Respect!

Bobby Fiske's picture

Susan Polgar must be the strongest force in chess today, off the board. Respect!

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