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.

31486 reads 81 comments
7 votes


  • 3 years ago


    I personally think that $100 is the maximum, and even that is pretty costly, especially considering all of the other expenses while staying/playing. I don't think that really any of us here are playing for the money and something like this does nothing more than make it more expensive to play. Will they draw 1000 players, to cover the prize fund? I doubt it, and that does not even account for the expenses of the tournament.

  • 3 years ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    There's several things about this that don't quite make sense to me yet.  For instance, the "no drawish openings" rule - why is this needed in a swiss-style event and how on earth are the organizers supposed to fairly determine/enforce it?  Is the the Berlin Defense drawish?  Are all early queen exchanges drawish?  If so, better not invite Carlsen.

    I'm guessing the ultimate hope here is that ESPN winds up covering the event and that drama ensues.  If so, why not do what is done in the WSOP and just show the hands/games that were interesting?

  • 3 years ago


    Ridiculous! Chess is not poker! If Maurice really wants to increase visibility of chess in the US...he needs to figure out how to keep those 1000s of scholastic players interested in the game after they leave middle and high school. Figure out how to make Chess cool again.

  • 3 years ago


    PEOPLE NEED TO QUIT COMPLAINING. First off, i thought about it and you know what, this might NOT flop but the only reason why it would is because most of you guys are scared man, really. In life, sometimes you have to take chances, that doesn't mean you HAVE to take chances going to this specific tournament but when opportunity arises you mash on the gas and go forward and if you fail, guess what??? IT WAS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE! Jesus man, i understand the money part of the entry being a $1,000, completely but WHAT YOU ALL ARE MISSING IS, YOU HAVE 10 MONTHS OF TRAINING YOU COULD BE DOING INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING!!! Its not like they are saying, hey this is set for Feb, no!!! its all the way in October, so how about if you really want to go just train every single day, there are some people are broke as crap and going to try because they see this as their chance to make something of themselves, they look at this like hey this is a chance i can take, yeah sure the competition will be hard but the simple fact is, in life your competing for everything anyway, college, high school basketball/football team, your job... and this is no different just the stakes are higher but hey pay a 1,000 and get the chance to at least come back home with 1,000 more, and for Maurice Ashley i would tell him do it because this like i said will fail or it will succeed BUT if it succeeds then its possibly going to change the way people perceive chess FOREVER, and you can bet your money that there will be more of these around the world, yes its a gamble but i say hey roll the dice and see what you get. You all have 10 months of trainig as well as i and 10 months to save your money and put your money where your mouth is. Thats my 2 cents, you can complain or you can train, nobody said it would be easy, this is chess, nobody put a gun to your head and made you play. Peace :)

  • 3 years ago


    This doesn't make sense at all. 1000$ just for the entry fee, and then hotel food, and plane?? It could be another 1000$. So for that kind of money one has more chances to win the World Open participating 3 times.

    At the world open generally there are players who are 200 points above of their rating, playing under their level, I guess in this event we will find unknown masters playing in the U1900 section and getting all the money.

    I believe this will be a BIG FLOP!

  • 3 years ago


    Trying to make chess a gamble is... well, a gamble.  The tournament depends on the many clueless players who would be willing to throw $1000 for a literally 0 chance to get anything back, money-wise.  As was pointed out by other people commenting, chess is unlike poker since a random amateur player does not have any chance at beating a professional in a 1-on-1 game.  And to win anything at all, you need to beat at least one, if not many professionals -- which only other professionals could do.  But is there enough of those who would pitch in $1000 for the idea.  As Natalia points out, it's a "winner take all" tournament considering the prizes, so my hunch would be a 'no'.

    If they had made it $100-$200 entry, and scaled back the prize fund somehow, then I can see a huge interest in participating.  In fact, I'd be there if that were the case -- not for the win, but for the fun.  At $1000 entry, I don't think I'm that keen on the idea.

  • 3 years ago


    @jimmy-the-hand: that was articulate, and good luck with your poker hands and chess games as well.

  • 3 years ago


    @ lovinfeelin, and mcris,

    In the short run, on any one day, any player can win a big poker tournament: Take the 2003 WSOP, for example. But yes, of course in the long run, it's only great players who 'win' consistently at poker.

    However, this does not translate to chess. There will not be some nobody from Georgia winning an open chess event (without 'assistance' that is, and this is a separate issue). There won't be a 'Moneymaker Effect' in chess. There is no element of gamble. Amateurs, even half-decent amateurs, cannot take a $1000 dollar punt against professional chess opposition.

    This is where the profit comes from in poker. 'Fish', as they are known, will win occasionally, due to a good run of cards. It's just a law of probability. And so they keep coming back thinking it will happen more often than it does. True poker pros rejoice when the fish 'get lucky' against them. It incentivises these bad players to juice the games in the long run.

    Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, chess cannot appeal to the public in such a way. A bad chess player does not pull mating attacks and positional crushes out of thin air, in the way a poker player can find straights and flushes!

  • 3 years ago


    Go big or go home

  • 3 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Interesting experiment, although I won't be participating. First of all, they are not offering conditions to anyone. Secondly, the format is basically "winner takes it all". For example, $40k for 1st and only $5k for 4th in the 2350-2499 group. I have no idea why certain pros waste their time and money playing in such events. Gambling spirit maybe?! Anyway, let's see how this goes.

  • 3 years ago

    IM Kacparov

    $1000... an average salary in Poland is $600.. I don't think many people from outside the US will play there

  • 3 years ago


    There is only two ways this can end... 1. It will fail OR... 2. It will change the game of chess FOREVER and will probably have millionaire chess tournament set once a year so all chess players can have their chance to make it AND it will make MORE PEOPLE WANT TO PLAY CHESS MAKING IT BIGGER ON A NATIONAL LEVEL. for example, we all know who Michael Jordan is, but after this if it succeeds THE WORLD WILL KNOW WHO BOBBY FISCHER WAS ON A BIGGER SCALE, but hey i say take the risk and see where it goes. You never know until you try. 

  • 3 years ago


    all i'm seeing is $1,000,000 of publicity for mr. maurice ashley

  • 3 years ago


    I supported this event on Facebook to Maurice recently and like seeing it in the works here. I'm interested too. Not worried about the winning. Just being in the history of participating would be fantastic. But winning is ice cream on top! Sound Cool!

  • 3 years ago


    At first I read this like part way through and I thought "AMAZING!" and I started talking to my mom about it. Then I read about the $1000 entry fee and I'm like "WHOA!". Even if say I grow a lot (my rating is 1940) go to 2150 before the tournament, I still don't think I will win. I think everyone thinks that a lot of people will register and they will have no chance to win, and hence, almost no one will register. Honestly, although this is awesome, with such large prizes and entry fees the stakes are too big for amateurs to risk it. I say a $100 entry fee and $100000 prizes would be a success but the scale is too big. They need to build up a good reputation for the number of players, good playing conditions, etc, before they can offer such huge stakes. Bad business decision in my opinion. However, it will be interesting to see how it actually turns out.

  • 3 years ago


    i certainly hope this works but overall chess players are not known for their willingness to part with there money, even if it be a good cause.i think Mr Ashley should have started out  with half  and built from that, most players would weigh there odds and count there loss -take it from me a stay in vegas can be expensive if you dont know the place i go at least once a year, but hey who knows, best of luck.

  • 3 years ago


    I would play if they provide a cocktail room with open bar for skittles and observing after my game is over. ..

  • 3 years ago


    The only payday I see happening is for Maurice Ashley because the women that got talked into backing this is going to lose her shirt. Chess is not poker.

  • 3 years ago


    lovin, I am sorry to disagree, but even gambling games like poker or backgammon Laughing have their statistics of luck (sic) and consequently, their champions, so not everybody can win such a tournament. I am looking forward to this tournament as it is just another open chess tournament.

  • 3 years ago


    I think the main purpose of this event is to raise the awareness of chess in the US astronomically; and I guess it comes with astronomical prices as well. :)

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