|2008 SPICE Cup Players|
Official drawing of lots:
Grandmaster Alexander Onischuk (USA): Grandmaster Onischuk is one of the top Grandmasters in the United States. Born in 1975 in Sevastopol, Ukraine, he earned his Grandmaster title in 1994. In 1995, he tied for 1st at the World Youth Championship. In 2000, he won the Ukrainian Championship. He won the 2001, 2002, and 2003 World Open; and in 2001 and 2002 he was the National Open Co-Champion. In 2004, he won the U.S. Open Championship. In 2006, he captured the prestigious U.S. Champion title. In 2007, he tied for 1st at the Biel International. He was formally the top-rated player in this country. Other major accomplishments include the Silver Olympiad medal in 1996, and Bronze Olympiad medals in 1998 and 2006.
Grandmaster Harikrishna Pentala (India): Born in the village Vinjanam Padu in India in 1986, Grandmaster Pentala started playing chess at the age of four and a half. He is one of the top three players in India, which is a well-recognized powerhouse. In 2000, he broke legendary Indian Grandmaster Anand’s record of being the youngest International Master and again in 2001 for being the youngest Grandmaster from India. He has won many impressive titles in his career already. Some of his biggest accomplishments include winning the 2001 Commonwealth Championship, the 2002 Hastings, the 2004 World Junior Championship, the 2005 Bermuda Invitational, the 2005 Hoogeveen Invitational, the 2005 Tiayuan Invitational, the 2006 Reykjavik Open, the 2006 Marx Gyorgy Memorial, and the 2006 World Chess960 Junior Championship. He has represented his country in every Chess Olympiad since the age of 14.
Grandmaster Varuzhan Akobian (USA): Born in Yerevan, Armenia in1983, Grandmaster Akobian learned to play chess at the age of 5. He is one of the leading Grandmasters in the United States today. He has won a number of prestigious titles in his career. In 2002, he tied for 1st at the World Open. In 2004, he won the World Open outright. He earned his Grandmaster title in 2004. 2006, also, was a great year for Grandmaster Akobian with a victory at the San Marino Open and a Bronze medal at the 2006 Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy. His biggest tournament win has been the 2007 Continental Championship where he qualified for the World Cup and he captured a Chicago Open title earlier this year.
Grandmaster Leonid Kritz (Germany): Born in 1984 in Moscow, Russia, he learned chess from his father at the age of 4. Grandmaster Leonid Kritz is currently one of the top Grandmasters in Germany. He has a number of strong wins under his belt so far in his young career. Some milestones include winning the World Under 16 Championship in 1999, representing Germany at the 2004 Word Cup, 2nd at the 2007 Biel Chess Festival, 1st at the 2007 New England Master, 3rd at the 2008 German Championship, and 1st at the Conegliano Open.
Grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov (USA): Born in 1959 in Berdichev, Ukraine, Grandmaster Kaidanov immigrated to the United States in 1991, with his three children and wife to Lexington, Kentucky. He has been one of the leading players in this country for the past two decades and has held the nation’s top ranking several times. He helped the U.S. team capture the Gold medal at the 2003 World Team Championship. He also played on the team which captured the team Silver medal at the 1998 Chess Olympiad, and he won the 2004 individual Silver medal at the 2004 Chess Olympiad. Some of his many other major titles include 1992 World Open, 1992 U.S. Open, 2002 Foxwoods Open, the 2002 U.S. Masters, the 2002 North American Open, and the 2008 Gausdal Classic. His biggest title to date came in 2002 when he won the Aeroflot Open in Moscow, which was one of the strongest open tournaments in history. He is also one of the leading chess trainers in America.
Grandmaster Julio Becerra (USA): Growing up in Cuba, he learned to play chess at the very late age of 13. He earned the title of Grandmaster in 1997. He won the Cuban Championship in 1995 and 1998. In 1999, he represented Cuba at the World Championship in Las Vegas. After the tournament, he defected. "I felt that it was my last opportunity and that if I didn't take it, it would be in my mind my whole life," he said. Grandmaster Becerra had very few opportunities to compete between 1999 and 2005 because he did not have an American passport. After having a chance to play, he has blossomed into one of the leading Grandmasters in the United States. In 2006, he won the Florida Open and the U.S. Chess League MVP award as a member of the Miami Sharks. He represented the U.S. in the World Cup in November 2007, and he tied for 1st at the 2008 Foxwoods Open.
Grandmaster Victor Mikhalevski (Israel): Born in Gomel, Belarus in 1972, he started to learn chess at the age of 5. Today, Grandmaster Mikhalevski is one the most active players in the professional chess circuit. He resides in Israel and some of his biggest titles include winning the Israeli Under 20 Championship in 1991 and 1992, the 2005 Lake George Open, the 2005 Montreal International, the 2006 Seattle Slugfest Invitational, and the 2007 Calvia Open by scoring an incredible 7 of 7 in the first 7 rounds against 5 Grandmasters with an average rating of 2522. He first broke the elite 2600 rating mark in January 2008, and he will break it again in October 2008.
Grandmaster Kamil Miton (Poland): Born in Niepolomice, Poland, Grandmaster Miton is one of the strongest players in his country today. He is a 3-time Polish Junior Champion. In 1996, he won the World Under 12 Championship. In 1997, he finished 2nd in the World Under 14, and he also finished 2nd at the World Under 20 in 2000. He was a 2-time winner of the prestigious World Open (2002 and 2005). He became a Grandmaster in 2002. He tied for 2nd at one of the strongest Canadian Open tournaments ever in 2007, and tied for third at the 2007 SPICE Cup. He has been rated the top player from his country twice, and he will be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come. He will represent Poland in the upcoming Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany.
Grandmaster Hannes Stefansson (Iceland): He was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1972, the year Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky in the match of the century in his hometown. He learned to play chess at 5. He is currently the top player in Iceland. Some of his best results include 1st at the 1987 World Championship Under 16, the Bronze medal at the 1992 Chess Olympiad in Manila, 1st at the 1997 Viking games, 1st at the 1999 Lost Boys Chess Festival, 1st at the Reykjavik Open, and 10-time Icelandic Champion, including 2008. He has won every national championship he has ever entered.
Grandmaster Eugene Perelshteyn (USA): Born in Zhitomir, Ukraine in 1980, Eugene and his family moved to the United States in 1994. He graduated from the University of Maryland in Baltimore County in 2002 with a degree in computer science, and he was the captain of the UMBC chess team. Eugene is also a former recipient of the prestigious Samford Fellowship. He represented the United States in the World Junior Championship 5 times. He also led UMBC to 5 National Championship titles. Some of his most impressive accomplishments so far include winning the 2003 Generation Chess Invitational, the 2006 Foxwoods Open, and the 2007 SPICE Cup Invitational, the highest-rated invitational tournament in the U.S. in the past 6 years.