Forty-two players — 22 from countries outside the U.S. — answered the invitation to participate in one of the strongest open tournaments in the United States this year.
After nine grueling rounds, students from Webster University pulled off another improbable feat by sweeping the top three spots.
Ray Robson, 17-year-old freshman grandmaster, former U.S. Junior Champion and member of the U.S. National Team, finished with an undefeated 7-2 score (5 wins, 4 draws, 0 loss) to capture the SPICE Cup Open title. This is an impressive score for the young phenom in an incredibly strong event. Since coming to Webster just a few months ago, his chess rating has reached a new career high.
Another freshman, grandmaster Fidel Corrales Jimenez, the 3rd-ranked player from Cuba, finished in 2nd place with a 6.5-2.5 score (4 wins, 5 draw, 0 loss). Fidel recently captured two big titles, the Missouri State Rapid and Blitz Championships. He is also the 3rd ranked player on the Webster University Chess Team.
International master Vitaly Neimer (Israel), a sophomore, was a member of the national collegiate championship team from Texas Tech last year. He transferred to Webster University to continue with the SPICE program. He finished in third place.
Neimer’s Inspiring StoryNeimer actually tied for third with grandmasters Alejandro Ramirez (Costa Rica) and Victor Mikhalevski (Israel) but edged them out on tiebreaks.
“As a young talented junior player from Israel, Neimer’s chess career was slowed down because he had to take a break to fulfill his military service requirement,” says Paul Truong, SPICE marketing director. “After transferring to Webster University, Neimer is determined to take his chess to the next level.”
“Each day after completing his daily homework and assignments, Neimer is off to the SPICE office at midnight by himself to use our professional chess library and super computer loaded with the latest chess database (over 6 million top level games), and the most powerful commercial chess software. He sometimes spent five to six hours a night analyzing countless positions and building up his opening repertoire.”
Neimer’s hard work paid off as he scored 6-3 (3 wins, 6 draws, 0 loss) against the toughest schedule at the SPICE Cup (facing eight grandmasters in nine games) to earn his 1st grandmaster norm. He now needs two more grandmaster norms to become a grandmaster.
Video, Standings, PhotosIn the in the, six-player, double round-robin SPICE Cup Invitational tournament — the highest-rated chess tournament of its kind in U.S. history, which opened festivities at Webster last week — former World Junior Champion and French top player Maxime Vachier-Lagrave took first place.
Find the final SPICE Cup Open standings here.
Peruse photos from the SPICE Cup here.