Newsletter #46: A Deadline Approaches
A major deadline approaches
In just a mere two weeks, the next deadline for the Millionaire Chess Open will be here. Come June 30th, potential participants will have their last opportunity to enter the tournament at the $1,250 rate before the entry fee jumps to $1,500. With not just the $1,000,000 total prize fund on the line but also the new Millionaire Square Prize giving one player a 1 in 64 chance of taking home a million dollars, the countdown is more exciting than ever. How many top GMs will jump in to join the likes of Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Wang Hao and Francisco Vallejo? Will more young stars like candidate GM Jeffrey Xiong or pre-teen sensation Awonder Liang join the fray? And will the tournament reach the magical number of 50 countries participating, topping last year’s already impressive total of 44? The upcoming fortnight will have a fascinating tale to tell.
Made for TV
For months now, the Millionaire Chess team has been hard at work with our television broker, Sunset Lane Entertainment, to help craft and pitch the MC broadcast to various TV networks and production companies. Chess on TV would be a game changer as it would expose the MCO to hundreds of thousands or even millions of eyeballs around the country, thus attracting major sponsors eager to associate their brands with a game known for its many positive attributes including strategic vision, in-depth planning, and intelligent foresight. However, most network execs have not yet been convinced that there exists an audience in massive enough numbers that would want to watch chess the way they might watch Sunday Night Football or even The Real Housewives of Hollywood. It may be that a creative Internet broadcast strategy tapping into a world-wide fan base will be needed to match all the revenue and branding potential that a TV deal would, and there are certain outlets (ESPN.com, for example) that could execute such an idea. With conversations with IMG (International Management Group) and OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) in the works, MC will continue to push the idea that there is a sizeable group of chess aficionados who would love to see their favorite stars battling it out in bold and beautiful High Definition.
A satellite thriller!
The second Millionaire Chess Satellite tournament concluded in Lagos, Nigeria on Sunday June 14 when an exciting playoff was required to decide the eventual winner. Previously Unrated Oluwadurotimi Lapite was not among the favorites, but he sent shock waves through the event by defeating top seed and then tournament leader CM Eugene Unwana, rated 2321, in the final round. This forced a play-off against IM Bunmi Olape as both players ended the first stage with an impressive total of 7 out of 9. The first playoff game was drawn, but the second was finally decided when Lapite lost on time in an otherwise equal position. This handed IM Olape the title and an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas to participate in the main event in October. Bunmi will be joining FM Harold Wanyama from Uganda who won the inaugural event in Kenya earlier this year.
Amy & Maurice