Millionaire Chess: It's On!
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The Millionaire Chess tournament, to be held in October 2014 in Las Vegas, was officially given the green light. The organizers of this potentially groundbreaking chess event had reserved the right to cancel the tournament if 1,500 participants were not registered by March 31. By that day only 76 people had entered, but the tournament will be held anyway. “Chess is ready for this kind of bold undertaking” said GM Maurice Ashley, one of the partners at Millionaire Chess.
The Millionaire Chess tournament was first announced in December last year, and immediately created buzz in the chess world. An open tournament that features a million dollars in guaranteed prizes, including a $100,000 first prize in the open section and $40,000 in various "Under sections", was indeed rather unique for chess! The entry fee was rather unique as well: $1,000. Would chess players be willing to invest, and try their luck? Would it work, like it worked for poker?
The venue, Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, can host up to 3,000 players. Starting their marketing in December, the organizers were hoping to welcome 1,500 players by March 31st. Only then would they make a final decision on holding the event.
“Admittedly, it was also a safety net, a get-out-of-jail free card, a ‘j’adoube’ (to use a chess term) in case the world of chess was not quite ready to commit to such a bold, aggressive, and almost cocky venture. While we were intending to sacrifice a ton of time and resources to give the event a boost, we wanted to mitigate the risk as much as possible before committing the farm to exciting yet uncharted territory.”
wrote Maurice Ashley, partner at Millionaire Chess, in the April 3rd newsletter. By that time, only 76 players had signed up.
But the tournament is on. In a press release distributed on Monday, Millionaire Chess was officially announced. Ashley:
“Chess is ready for this kind of bold undertaking. The game has seen a dramatic uptick in interest recently, and this tournament is designed to ride that wave. With the incredible explosion of scholastic chess as well as the massive increase in the number of online players, we believe there is an opportunity to capture huge market share.”
Amy Lee, an entrepreneur and co-partner at Millionaire Chess, sees the project as a launching point for other undertakings. In a recent interview she said:
“The Millionaire Chess Open is just the first step in our business branding itself as a global events and PR company. We’re thrilled by the enthusiastic response we have gotten so far. It makes us confident that our vision to change a game like chess is an idea whose time has come.”
The tournament will feature the use of many high-tech novelties, never before seen at a chess competition. Some of these innovations, currently being worked on by the Playful Systems Lab at MIT’s Media Lab, include algorithms that predict moves by a specific player.
The Millionaire Chess Open will be held over Columbus Day weekend October 9-13, 2014 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada. Besides a chance to win up to $100,000, there is also a “bounty” placed on the top five players of each section and a $1,000 award to anyone who beats them. On “Millionaire Monday” four finalists, who qualify after seven rounds of play, will move on to play two knock-out rounds to determine who wins the top prize. The last two rounds of the open section will also be played on this day.
“We understand that chess suffers from a perception problem,” said Ashley in the press release. “Most people think the game is just too difficult or too slow to capture the public’s attention. But chess has been around for over 1500 years for a reason. It’s that enduring fascination that we believe our company can tap into, and we expect this tournament will help take chess to the next level.”