Millionaire Chess Tournament Notes

Millionaire Chess Tournament Notes

Dec 27, 2013, 9:57 AM |

For those who don't yet know about it, there's another high-risk high-reward chess tournament being organized by Maurice Ashley and his business partner Amy Lee, this time in Las Vegas in October. $1,000 entry and $40,000 first prize in the class sections and $100,000 first prize in the Open.

The organizers reserve the right to cancel the tournament if they don't get 1,500 registrations by March 31. This generates at least $1.5M, of which $1M will go to prize money. This leaves $500k left over for space rental, directors' fees, and other administrative costs ... and, of course, profits. Ashley and Lee should make at least a cool $150k each from this venture, and if they pull it off then good for them.

There have been some press releases and an interview with Amy Lee, but the interview didn't ask anything I really wanted to know. So I sent Ashley and Lee an email, asking tougher questions. Hopefully they'll respond. I've copied the jist of my questions below.

1) How is this tournament any different than the HB Global Chess Challenge a few years ago? One can take the angle that Millionaire Chess is just an experiment to see if players are willing to shell out big entry fees for big rewards. Maybe they are, and maybe this is a good idea. But unless sponsorship becomes involved, then Millionaire Chess is just another HB Global Chess Challenge. Okay, fine. But how seriously are you pursuing sponsorship, so that chess can really be financially worthwhile to the Africans Amy Lee mentions in her interview or even to those 2500-rated professionals in the U.S.?


Link to interview here:


Andrew Paulson, via Agon, has so far failed to find sponsorship for the FIDE Grand Prix. Perhaps your situation shall prove different ... but why and how? Have you collaborated with him?


2) Have you thought about anti-cheating procedures? I'm currently at work on a Chess Life profile of IM and Professor Ken Regan, who helps lead the ACP/FIDE ant-cheating committee, and they might have some protocol in place by October, but no guarantee. You might want to take a proactive stance on that. You know how slowly FIDE moves. Regan's technical work is fairly mature right now, but statistics alone is not enough evidence to indict a player, and one needs independent evidence from a TD or a third party. A protocol needs to be put in place. Has this been done, because FIDE (and Regan) are still working on the details. But Regan has proposals that you might want to talk to him about.

Howard Goldowsky
Boston, MA