Millionaire Chess Tournament Announced: Las Vegas, October 2014

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 12/19/13, 9:59 AM.

Earlier this week GM Maurice Ashley announced a ground-breaking event set for October 2014 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas: Millionaire Chess. The event will feature a million dollars in guaranteed prizes including a $100,000 first prize in the open section and $40,000 in various "Under sections." Early birds enjoy special prices and a chance at free hotel and airline tickets. Press release.

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK--(Marketwired - Dec 19, 2013) - In 1972, Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky in 'The Match of the Century,' a battle recounted on television sets and newspaper covers around the world. Next October, the Millionaire Chess Open hopes to garner similar attention by offering competitors the wealthiest prize in Open chess history.

The Millionaire Chess Open will be held over Columbus Day weekend October 9-13, 2014 at exciting Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada, and boasts a total of a million dollars in prizes - a record payout for an open chess tournament. The tournament is the brainchild of International Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, a world-famous chess commentator often called on to be the voice of some of the biggest chess matches in the world. Mr. Ashley also served as the organizer for HB Global Chess Challenge in 2005, a $500,000 Open that - until now - claimed the record title.

Ashley is excited to finally announce the Millionaire Chess Open after months of preparation, and invites chess players of all levels to join him in Las Vegas for an event that will make chess history. "I am thrilled to be a part of this exhilarating tournament," states Ashley. "To offer players a chance of winning part of our million dollar prize pool in one the most exciting cities in the world has always been a dream of mine to organize."

Mr. Ashley will be assisted by Millionaire Chess Open co-partner Amy Lee, an entrepreneur helping to back the event, and the technological creativity of the MIT Media Lab, where Mr. Ashley serves as a Director's Fellow. The Media Lab will be represented at the tournament by MIT Assistant Professor Kevin Slavin and members of his Playful Systems research group.

"We are inviting up to 3,000 participants to a tournament that will electrify both fans and media around the world," stated Mr. Ashley. "The technological innovativeness that the MIT Media Lab brings will also allow us to present chess in ways never seen before. Hundreds of thousands of fans will be able to witness the top chess players from around the world in action live and online. We fully intend to make this an event like no other."

"The Millionaire Chess Open aims to place competitive chess beneath a global spotlight," stated Ms. Lee. "We want to bring a sense of luxury into the game, and we believe that nothing adds as much excitement as setting record stakes!"

The tournament will take place in Las Vegas Nevada at Planet Hollywood October 9-13, 2014 and boast the record for the highest stakes in chess. Entry is $1000 with a chance to win up to $100,000 for a total of $1,000,000. Registration:

This is where the press release ends. The tournament website further reveals that there will be some interesting prize incentives. One will be a “bounty” placed on the top five players of each section and a $1,000 award to anyone who beats them.

And there is also a “Millionaire Monday” on which 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.

The big question, of course, is whether chess players are willing to spend $1,000 to play in a chess tournament. On The Chess Drum Maurice Ashley explained his ideas behind this tournament in great detail and about the entry fee he said:

Of course, I knew chess players aren’t used to paying that sort of entry fee, but I was also well aware that poker players have been paying much, much more for the chance to win big prizes at the World Series of Poker. So the fundamental question the entire idea hinged on was whether or not chess players believed enough in their sport and in its potential to support an event that required them to pay more than they’re used to, to have a chance to realize their deepest dream of seeing chess recognized for the great game that it is. We didn’t have the answer to that question and we spent weeks studying the idea from all angles before deciding it was time to go all in or, as Amy loves to say, “Go big or go home.”

Early birds enjoy special prices and a chance at free hotel and airline tickets. But to what extent are people running a risk there? Ashley said that people will get their money back if it's not working:

We are looking to players to sign up by March 31st to make the Millionaire Chess Open definitely happen. 

The tournament has some interesting rules as well. Some exampes:

No food or opening of food wrappings allowed at the tables. No alcoholic beverages will be allowed in the tournament room.

Boorish, uncouth, rude, and inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated. The organizers reserve the right to deny entry into our tournament.

In the interest of presenting the best possible image of chess to the public, the organizers strongly request that players dress in casual business attire at a minimum (slacks, shirt, and jacket). For those choosing not to do so for the entire tournament, then we ask that they wear a collared shirt (polo shirts allowed). We strongly urge players not to wear tank tops, shorts, or old T-shirts while playing. We wish players to be as comfortable as possible while still presenting a proper face to the public.

Having an “objectively” drawn or equal position does NOT allow you to agree to a draw. If this is the case, then you must play until at least move 30.

The TD can deem that players are not making a serious effort to play a real game. For example, some unacceptable situations would be:

  • If two players on the top boards make a quick draw using some well known theoretical opening that forces a three-fold repetition.
  • If the two players play an intentionally lifeless opening with the object of steering the game towards a dead draw as soon as possible. For example, playing the exchange French defense and immediately trading off all the pieces is not acceptable.
  • Continuous repetitions in order to get to the time control will be considered an infraction of the rules.

31506 reads 81 comments
7 votes


  • 3 years ago



    And you know this how???

  • 3 years ago


    This event won't be held.

  • 3 years ago



    I agree with you  completely.  This is going to be a big part of chess history and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

    I'll see you Vegas!

  • 3 years ago



    That's a great idea and that is something that you should do.  Bring it up at your local chess club or put a flyer in the newspaper and see if people would be willing to play for a seat.

    This happens a lot with poker.  There's a poker league here locally and they hold tourneys like this to win the money to play in the bigger events.

    This is something I think a lot of chess clubs might be interested in doing.  However, the only downside to this is obviously only the best rated player in that area will go. 

    I'm rated 1406.  There are players in my area rated over 2000.  If they had an event like this locally I wouldn't play because obviously there is no chance of me winning the seat. 

    I am planning to go to Vegas because I won't have to compete against titled players, just those rated in my section.

  • 3 years ago


    I am not so surprised at negative comments for this event. Some of the persons most likely have not won at the big events like the World Open or the World and US Amateur Team where I have competed and won at both. I am not alone as my friends have won and cashed there too. We don't go to play for the money, for if we play well the rewards will find us. The true chess player will not just see this as "a must win your money back event" only. If everyone had to be guaranteed to win then that would truly be some fantastic event like our club has for our youth. The tournaments I mention above are events steeped in tradition and a good time. They have ben played in for most of the 40 years I have enjoyed the game. I enjoy them as if they were a vacation for chess afficianados and it will truly be an historic event so those of us who have some vacation money and a few days to play will have a great time as I was there, in Las Vagas, 5 years ago and enjoyed winning money from the casinos as well that time. If you don't go, you can't win, and that is guaranteed. I hope to enjoy the hospitality of the organizers who I trust will be doing their best to make this a memorable event. I wish everyone could experience the joy of just enjoying this experience we call chess as I have for those 40+ years. It has been a great journey through life with many life long friends.


    For those who are not inspired to play and/or bring your friend(s) you may take a note of inspiration from - William Shakespeare

    Would you lie at home in your beds when you could do battle at the chessboard in a great event. Live life and take heart! Win or Lose you can say you were there and were a part of history. (I paraphrase of course)


    I hope to see some of you there.Smile

    St. Crispin’s Day speech (poem)
    from Henry V (1599)
  • 3 years ago


    They should instead elect to have some satellite entry tournaments (perhaps 4 per state). where the winning of the tournament nets you guaranteed spot in the tournament.  They could still have $1000 entries for those of us more willing to gamble.  

    For the satellites, you would have say a $75 entry fee.  If the tournament has 200 participants, all four times, that's $60,000.  

    Now, take the winner from each section (Master, U2200, U2000, U1800, U1600, U1400, U1200) - 7 sections x 4 Tournaments = 28 Entries @ $1000/piece = $28,000.

    This leaves you $32,000 left over for shared travel expenses (more than enough to transport 28 people).  Any left over finances can go directly into the prize fund (let's pretend each person required $1000 per round trip, that's $4000 left over).

    So, to do all the math: 28 entries x 50 states = 1,400 participants through satellite tournaments.  At $1000 entries, that's $1.4 Million collected from the entries of just satellite winners.  Now, take into consideration extra funds from each state = $4000 x 50 = $200,000. $1.6 Million prize fund for players that have only paid $75 - $300 a piece. 

    That only covers entries of the satellite tournaments, alone.

    These players then get the opportunity to represent their state in the tournament (pretty neat idea, right?), everyone get's paid, and the brokest of us competition players are represented.

    Obviously it's a lot more complex than this (most importantly, children winners can't fly alone, what if there's not 200 participants in the state, how do you organize such a beast and keep everyone in check, etc)  But the entry level of $1000 seems so, so much higher than a mere $75 to be worth it.

    What do other members think?

  • 3 years ago


    The bottom line is, do you want to see more open chess tournaments in the future with bigger payouts, or do want to see chess stay as it is.  This arguement has been going on since Fischer's days, when he fought for a bigger cash prize.

    Personally, I want to  see more tournaments like this one, regardless of who organizes it, in the future.  For that reason alone, I am entering and supporting this tournament.  All the other arguements that people have are really not important. 

    You don't like his views, fine, then don't listen to him.  No big deal.  I'm going there to play and everything else will go in one ear and out the other.  Simple.

    With the amount of time and effort it takes to keep up with chess it would be nice to get a nice paycheck from it every once and awhile.

  • 3 years ago


    Some people are cheap, some people are poor. Some people are rich and some people are spendthrift. All irrellevant. What will determine the success of this tournament is the same factor as will determine the success of any tournament:

    a) Will this experience be about more than just Chess for myself and my family - will it be a memorable vacation?

    b) Is the venue attractive to all groups, affordable, and in this case, 'lux'?

    c) Is the marketing aggressive enough to the correct groups - especially families (because even if Dad comes, he will probably send Mom and the Kids to Circus Circus while he plays some Chess - as we see every year at the North American Open)?


    Basically (besides the outlandish pricetag) the main threat this tournament faces is indeed the reputation of the organizer himself - GM Ashley. It seems that the main backer, this Amy Lee, has not done her homework as well as suggested... else she may have realised that her spokesman is one of the more controversial figures in Chess. A lot of folks love him; yet, a lot of folks feel like he goes out of his way to emit socially radical views and thus don't want themselves or their families exposed to those mannorisms or views - thats gunna be a problem.

    We all know that Chess is great and good, but at the end of the day, people aren't going to spend $1,000 + travel expenses (all and all the average trip will be $1,500-$2000) to have political dogma rammed down their throat - and many will avoid the tournament for just that reason and use the $1,000 to take the wife and kids on a lovely vacation elsewhere.


    Yes, people are willing to spend big $$ on a Poker tournament which is about gambling and, as in Ashley's World Poker Tour example, the 'Royal Flush Girls' in Vegas... but thats a far cry from the generally family-oriented constituents of the Royal Game - a misunderstood fact which may cost the tournament the huge following they anticipate.


    Regardless of the negative politics or positive potential benefit to Chess this tournament may have, the strategy for the regular Chess player (the fool parted from his money so those big prize pools can coexist with big profits in big casinos with big pricetags) seems simple:  save up the dough and wait to see if they will actually be able to hold this gargantuan beast before commiting your cash; on the official announcement date (March 31), decide if you really want to spend that $1,000 you saved up to play in a tournament. You may want to spend it on a guaranteed win - like your portfolio. If you haven't saved up and needed to in order to go, that tells you how high on your priority list the high-stakes tournament was. If you are wealthy enough to drop $1k and not care, you probably aren't reading this bit.

    All in all, between the politics, price, and petty arguments... I'm not holding my breath on this tournament coming to fruition; but hey, maybe next year a more reasonable figure - perhaps GM Susan Polgar - will take up the charge and this can become a serious professional tournament with substantial financial backing (from advertisement and investors, since there is that extra $2 million potential that was brought up - a number that should grow given a success), which would allow for a more reasonable entry fee without reducing the prize pool. Opening this tournament up to families with this type of simple formula (accessable cost for non-gamblers and a less controversial figurehead) is so obvious I'm not sure how the organizers botched that major detail so badly, despite spending so much time and effort on planning.

  • 3 years ago


    It's my dream to go to a major tournament. This one is a little too steep for me--but I applaud the organizers.

  • 3 years ago


    And why are some complaining about where the so called extra 2 million dollars is going?

    People, the event is at a venue in Vegas.  How much do you think that costs? Marketing and publicity? The organizers should obviously get a little bit for putting this event together which is going to be an enormous task to pull off, but its not going to be anywhere near what you folks are saying.

  • 3 years ago


    I was extremely excited when I first heard about this.  Before I finished reading the article I already knew that this was event I couldn't miss.  I'm rated 1406 and I thought, wow, finally there is an opportunity for an average player like me to play chess for a living.  Sure, there's the possibility that I'll lose, but if you think that's going to stop me from trying THINK AGAIN!! 

    I'm not just going to watch on the sidelines while other people accept the challenge and live out their dreams.

    I never realized how scared chess players are.  I mean, its kinda funny seeing that chess is a game of war lol.


    I couldn't have said it better myself.  Great post and a great attitude!!

  • 3 years ago


    If player gives such a entry fee, then million has no value.What about, if i start a $1000 prize money tournament, who is coming to compete in the competition here via plane fare and cost of staying in hotel.hehe just saying but anyone might want this.

  • 3 years ago


    I would like to say that I do agree with all the people here who reject the fact that there is an entry fee of 1000$, not to forget the hotel, food, and air plane tickets costs which might summed up to 3000$ espicially for players living in europe, middle east, Africa and Asia. So that  in total around 4000$. But I do wish that this event will succeed espicially in media because if it does it will find sponsors in the following year and the entry fee might be reduced hopefully significiently.

  • 3 years ago


    I am going to this. I am not trying to miss no money.

  • 3 years ago


    Ive noticed nobody has mentioned the HB Fiasco in 2005 I believe in Minnesota. Another Maurice (I don't play much anymore) Ashley. The financiers sure didn't back another money pit.

  • 3 years ago


    There must be exceptions to those rules, otherwise it is unfair. Example:

    After 10 moves the first player makes a mistake that enables the second player to perform a strong attack, probably winning but the position is very complicated. The first player defends very well and suddenly, let us say after move 20, the second player makes a mistake in the attack so that the first player can force a 3-fold repetition and thus save the game; it happens to be forced because neither player can avoid the repetition without getting a clear lost position.

    In that case you can not demand that any of the players drop the repetition even the game hasn't lasted 30 moves. That would be cruel and very bad for the image of chess, forcing a player to deliberately play poor chess. And that would also be very bad for the image of those who arrange the tournament. And it would certainly be incredible unfair.

  • 3 years ago


    By all means, let's give this a try. Somebody ought to do something to try and pry Americans away from their mind-numbing American Idol and reality TV nonsense. Maybe a bunch of big dollar signs $$$$$$$$ will restart their frontal lobes just long enough to appreciate and (dare I hope?!) support this most wonderful of human creations, chess. If Maurice makes a bundle in the process, fine! More power to em'!

  • 3 years ago


    @TheBlueRook75: Cheers! Although I'd rather save the luck from my chess for the WSOP...!

  • 3 years ago


    Some math here can be useful. GM Ashley invites 3000 marks to play, and the players pay 1000$ each = 3 million dollars! GM Ashley and partner give 1 million dollar in prizes, and escape with 2 million dollars.

    I want to become a chess tournament organizer too!

  • 3 years ago


    It looks like a scam, and since it is in Vegas, surely is.

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