Cori takes trophy at 2018 SPICE Cup

by Macauley Peterson
10/30/2018 – Jorge Cori shared first prize with Illia Nyzhnyk in St. Louis at the SPICE Cup, held from October 23rd to 28th. Cori then won the Armageddon game to claim top honours and the trophy! In all, 38 players, including 14 grandmasters competed for USD $16,550 in prizes in the 12th edition of the tournament created by GM Susan Polgar. Nyzhnyk previously won the title in 2014. | Photo: Paul Truong

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Nyzhnyk shared first

Peruvian Grandmaster Jorge Cori, a member of the super-strong Webster University chess team, won his last two games to catch Illia Nyzhnyk atop the annual SPICE Cup standings and force an Armageddon playoff.

Cori is having a great year — the 23-year-old  won a gold medal on board three at the Batumi Olympiad after posting a 2925 performance rating, and is now approaching 2700 Elo.

In St. Louis he and drew three won five games — the most of any player — which made up for his second-round loss to Awonder Liang in a wild game.


Cori's 15...Ne8 was asking for trouble (Ne4 would keep the game equal) and Liang pounced with 16.Qh3 f5 17.g4! prying open the g-file and the b1-h7 diagonal.

Liang missed several chances to put the game out of reach early, notable on move 28:


Liang's 29.a3 is based on the fact that if the b4-bishop leaves the a3-f8 diagonal White mates with Bc5+ and Qg7#. But Cori found the only saving move 29...h5! when Liang is still better after 30.Qg5 but Cori could hope to untangle and survive the endgame after 30...Qe7 (not played) 31.axb4 Qxg5.

Instead, from the diagram position, the crushing blow was 29.f5, hitting the bishop laterally. Black has the same problem as above, but this time there's no defence.

Awonder Liang

Awonder Liang was the 14th youngest GM of all time (Cori is 20th) | Photo: Paul Truong

Nyzhnyk was leading the tournament by half a point going into the last round after beating Benjamin Gledura with the black pieces. Gledura had the best start winning his first four games but 2 points from his last five games (including his loss in the penultimate round) left him tied for 3rd.


White looks to be holding after 39.Ra7+, as he will be able to pick off the e-pawn, for instance, 39...Kd6 40.Kf2 Nxh2 41.Ke3. But in the game after 39.Kf2 Kb6 40.Ke3 Rxe7 41.h3? Nyzhnyk held onto the pawn with 42...Nh4 42.Rf1 (one move earlier this may still be drawing) 42...Ng2+43.Ke2 e3 and soon advanced it to e2 winning.

Gledura vs Nyzhnyk

Gledura gets set to make his first move against Nyzhnyk in the background | Photo: Paul Truong

Cori's crucial last round win came at the expense of Alex Lenderman who fell into a trap:


Lenderman played 24...Bb8. Can you spot the problem?

25.Qxd5! exploiting the pin and winning a clear pawn after cxd5 26.Rxc8 Re8 27.Rxd8

Cori went on to win easily a few moves later and reached 6½ points to force the Armageddon playoff:

Video replay of the playoff

Prize winners

(L to R)  Elizabeth Stroble (Webster University President), Alex Shimanov, Yuniesky Quesada Perez, Alex Lenderman, Susan Polgar | Photo: Paul Truong

Final standings (top 10)

Rk. Name Pts.
1 Jorge Cori 6.5
2 Illia Nyzhnyk 6.5
3 Lazaro Bruzon Batista 6.0
4 Benjamin Bok 6.0
5 Benjamim Gledura 6.0
6 Awonder Liang 6.0
7 Aleksandr Lenderman 5.5
8 Aleksandr Shimanov 5.5
9 Yuniesky Quesada Perez 5.5
10 Akshat Chandra 5.5

Full crosstable

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Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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