Millionaire Chess: It's On!

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 4/8/14, 12:49 AM.

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.”

Amy Lee & Maurice Ashley

More information and entries at or

34616 reads 177 comments
12 votes


  • 2 years ago



    Again, trying to correlate a coach's rating and their fees is a big mistake. 

    I charge (and receive) $100 per hour to coach because I get results, and the NYC chess community knows that I am very good at what I do.

    I charge more than many GMs do for lessons, and parents know this...there isn't a shortage of GMs offering chess lessons in NY...yet students keep taking lessons from me, in some cases for several years.

    Why? Results.

    Bulla has it right: more than 95% of my income comes from teaching chess, so I think it is fair to say that I am a professional. And yes, I have my own apartment, etc. and support myself.

  • 2 years ago


    He's slightly over 2000 so if he's charging $100/hr, which I don't think is that absurd, he can be a professional in the sense that he teaches for a living.

  • 2 years ago

    NM jonesmurphy

    Lot more than 3 players signed up:

  • 2 years ago


    i can use the ching put me in

  • 2 years ago


    It would be interesting to know, now, nearly at the end of May, how many people registered for this event.

    Because just on this site 13000 people read this article, 171 commented, and maybe out of 171 comments, only 3 people will actually go.

    But the event has been announced also in other internet sites, and I think there was advertisement also on chess life.

  • 2 years ago

    NM jonesmurphy


  • 2 years ago



  • 2 years ago


    This is awesome. If I buy 100 tickets, I can win $1,000,000 with a high probability. Let me go get a bank loan.

  • 3 years ago


  • 3 years ago

    NM jonesmurphy

    btickler what is this talk of failing when 5-month advance entries are running at so much more of a higher rate than for any other tourney?

  • 3 years ago


    Fair enough.  Well maybe you can start saving now and we will see you next year :) Get in touch with your local chess club and maybe they could organize some tourneys into MC.

  • 3 years ago


    Bulla unfortunately I don't have 3000 dollars to spend. Because just the entry fee is 1000/1500 and then there are likely another 2000 between hotel, flight and so on. My local bank denied me the loan, because they don't think I have any chance to repay it.

    Maybe GM Ashley should have contacted local chess association, and ask to organize tournaments, which as prize would have given the "entry fee" to the tournament.

    Let's hope the rich chess community answer! And maybe also could organize monthly tournaments, instead of the deatch matches, where they pay the entry fee to the Millionaire event.

  • 3 years ago


    Wow, well I hope one day you will see the bigger picture but as of now I guess you'll believe it when you see it I guess.  I wish you well on your future endeavors and your progress in chess and maybe we might meet across the board in a future tournament Smile

  • 3 years ago


    This event is just the beginning of Millionaire Chess. 

    That is the narrative you've been fed, yes.  

    The only reason MC would fail would be from lack of support from the chess community i.e. players.

    Really?  The only possible reason you can conceive of that an event like this could fail is because of the chess community not turning out in droves?  That's like saying that the only reason that Lacrosse players don't make NFL salaries is because Lacrosse fans have failed their sport...

    So let me get this straight...based on a website and some press releases with limited coverage, you believe you need to pony up $1,000 for this event, and evangelize it, and that if the event fails it is the fault of you and your peers and not the people actually responsible for putting on the event?  

    Ummm, wow.  Hi, I'm Jim Jones, drink this koolaid...

    Good luck.

  • 3 years ago


    This event is just the beginning of Millionaire Chess.  The goal is to turn it into a brand/company.  The only reason MC would fail would be from lack of support from the chess community i.e. players.  I'm not saying to just believe this will work, if we want this to work we need to take action.   So in a way, yes, we would only have ourselves to blame. 

    If you're content with the way chess is now, if you like just playing online and in tournaments with small prizes, then by all means you're free to stand on the sidelines and complain all you want.  As for the rest of us, we'll be on the court.

  • 3 years ago


    Shark Tank is about investing in companies, not sponsoring events.  Two completely different animals.  The "mentors" on Shark Tank ask for revenue not just to show proof of concept, but more importantly to weed out the people that don't know what they are doing and have not actually tried to make their product work on their own.  Its the quickest question that displays for them the difference between a pie-in-the-sky dreamer and a real entrepreneur.  

    ...which is the same thing I am doing here.

    If Millionaire Chess ultimately fails then we only have ourselves to blame.

    This is just a ridiculous statement, and don't even bother trying to come back and blame me when this tanks ;)...

    "If only we had believed..."

    This is the real world, not Hollywood.

  • 3 years ago


    Chess as a game is obviously established.  That's not what I'm talking about.  What I'm talking about is the "market" of chess.  Sports is already a big money maker. 

    My point of mentioning the HB Global is that at that time it was the richest open tournament but despite that it had a great turnout which proves that players are willing to play for bigger prizes.

    It doesn't take 15-20 years to become an accomplished chess player unless of course you want to try to make it among the top in the world.  Before, that was really the only way to make a decent payday at playing tournaments.  This event changes all that.  You can compete for bigger prizes as you progress your way through chess by playing up the ladder in the under sections.

    You say you've just got into chess 3 years ago but you're already a Class A player.  That's very good.  I doubt it would take you another 10+ years to become a master.  There's currently only 18 players registered in your section which pays out to 50th place.  You might have a good chance of doing pretty good in this event.

    HB Global was the first step forward, and despite it still not going on, was a highly succesful tournament.  Millionaire Chess is the next step.  Better venue(HB Global was in Minnesota), more visibility to the public, bigger prize fund, new innovations etc. 

  • 3 years ago


    Sorry Bulla but you mentioned the "HB global challenge" if that event was so successfull, why is still not being played?

    I began to play just 3 years ago, and the big event I've heard of, was the World Open, never heard of the Global Challenge.

    I made a quick search in internet, from what I understand was a tournament which happened 8-9 years ago?? (2005?)

    I believe chess is "established" is not something new which just appeared on the market. There is chess literature going back at least 2-300 years, I doubt Baseball was played 300 years ago.

    The real problem with chess is that to become "good" at it, one needs to spend 15-20 years. And also after all those years, if one stop playing, there is a rapid loss of knowledge. 

    Most top GMs cannot even compete against a home computer, and when they comment a game, they must always check what the engine says first.

    Then there is the length of a game, too long for sparkling interest.

    But returning on the cost. Ok let's say that someone has 1000$ to throw away this year. He goes to this tournament, plays, doesn't win anything, apart another bill for 1000-1500 for hotel and flight, and then next year, what does he do?? Go again to gift 3000 dollars to GM Ashley?

    Meanwhile this year, he needs to work and save a lot of money for next year tournament, when he is not sure he will win anything.

    After 3 years this way, he has spent 10000 dollars, maybe an investment in local lottery tickets would give a better return?

    But honestly, if I had 10000 dollars to blow away, am I really going to Las Vegas to play, or more wisely I could use it for a GM coach, and then play in local tournaments, which are less expensive, and eventually become a master player. In my opinion, it would make more sense to use the money this way, than throw it gambling in Las Vegas.

    Notice that if you learn to play Chinese Chess (a more difficult version of international chess) you can go gambling in Chinese clubs, and make a living, but also in that case, you need to become good, which means 15-20 years studying chess only.

  • 3 years ago


    Of course they can, because baseball is already established.  This is a brand new venture in chess that needs to be established first before people would be willing to invest in it.

    Not sure if you've seen the tv show Shark's Tank.  Basically it's a show where entrepenuers pitch ideas/products to investors.  They don't invest in ideas, they only invest in businesses or products that have a proven record and the first question asked is what are your sales.  They want to see the numbers before they even discuss the possibility of investing their money.  So really your argument of not having any sponsors right now has no substance.

    For someone who doesn't want this to fail you sure sound like you have already given up on it.  If Millionaire Chess ultimately fails then we only have ourselves to blame.

  • 3 years ago


    I'm not entirely sure why you would want this to fail since it's only to our benefit.  Just because sponsors aren't on board yet proves absolutely nothing.  You need to show them a proven method that works first. 

    Lol :).

    Who says I want this to fail?  I am pointing out the reality:  it is failing by every measure visible to us so far.

    That there are no sponsors on board yet proves a very important point: that there are no sponsors on board ;).  I mean, really?  I hate to tell you, but even a little league team can get Joe's Pizza to pay for their jerseys before the season starts.  It doesn't take a CSI agent to figure out that you can extrapolate what is happening from visible clues/events/announcements.

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