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.

31525 reads 81 comments
7 votes


  • 3 years ago


    This is absolutely bound to fail . One cannot use the WSOP as a comparison because there is an element of luck in poker & anybody can beat everybody in the game unlike in chess. Sorry , but its a sad truth .

  • 3 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    well if it were a $100 entry for $100,000 tournament people would say this is an incredible deal.  and scale x10 [but not for other expenses!] it is a great deal relative to other big tourneys.  and prizes to spot 50 instead of spot 10, this is a huge difference, not to mention the bounty for beating the top 5 in each section in some(?) rounds.

    my main concern is if i play, as currently a low 2200's player (but let's say i can hit 2300 by the tournament start - plz not over 2350 Innocent), 2200-2500 players will be enough-less-screwed than usual that i have a chance to win something despite the section containing players with x10 my experience in chess.  it's difficult to go +2 when playing 2400 and 2500 players the last few rounds... even as an improving player.

    i assume entries are by uscf ratings of course... my us is 2200+ and my fide is probably 1900 (in part due to not playing these big events much), and i think my chances in the u2000 wouldn't be too bad altho i'm sure i would be forced to play the open given my us rating xD.

  • 3 years ago


    Easy $100,000 for Magnus! I hope he plays.

  • 3 years ago


    it should have a VIP Invitation Section for some super gm as we are used and enjoy to see :)

  • 3 years ago


    the problem is, to equal entries with prize and other expences, they'll need at least 1100 entries. people who think they wont win(me too) would not gamble a thousand bucks cuz the hotel and airplane are just a "chance". there are "only" 168 prizes, some being worth less than a 1000 bucks so about a 1000 people would lose a thousand bucks. I believe its hard to find so many people willing to lose that and if not, the organizers would have a big loss. in my opinion, it's a big risk taken by the organizers. i also think that sinquefield followed by this is simply a try to bring US under spotlights in the chess world. nice for North America though :)

  • 3 years ago


    Hopefully this event works, could be great for chess.  

  • 3 years ago


    hmm I wanna participate and grab the million

  • 3 years ago


    I'd love to register for this as a ~1600-1800 rated player and see how badly I get smacked around.  I'll have to check if it's completely open or if you have to register and garner a rating first.

  • 3 years ago


    alexdelaware .... you bring up a good point.... I wonder if the elite players will join..... hmmmm if they do will this take away others from coming?????? Also, I checked out the website..... but didnt see the sections??????

  • 3 years ago


    i think this is set to fail... or change to game for Money Mouth

  • 3 years ago


    Yeah, that would be hilarious if Magnus showed up just to take an easy $100,000, but didn't register until the day of, just so no one would think he was coming. But other than that I've got a question. It says "We are inviting up to 3,000 participants to a tournament that will electrify both fans and media around the world". Are they limiting the playing field to only 3000 people? And is millionaire monday only for the open section?

  • 3 years ago


    lol, it will be interesting to see if this happens and if any of the elite players will register or be allowed to participate.

  • 3 years ago


    Very exciting.... just reading this gave me goose bumps... finally chess can be put on the map.... I will good if my piggy bank allows me too....

  • 3 years ago


    I will be watching this closely :)

  • 3 years ago

    NM smalugu

    I want to register, just to support the idea :)

  • 3 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    sounds great!  expensive but return relatively much better compared with other major events.  will enter if i can!

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