GM Dariusz Swiercz Wins 3rd Millionaire Open
GM Dariusz Swiercz won the third Millionaire Chess on Monday in Atlantic City, N.J., triumphing in the Millionaire Monday final against GM Gawain Jones. For first place, Swiercz collected a clean $30,000. Not bad for a college student, as Swiercz is currently attending Saint Louis University. GMs Jianchao Zhao and Emilio Cordova also made the finals but were eliminated by Jones and Swiercz respectively.
Organizer GM Maurice Ashley anticipates that this will be be the final Millionaire Chess. Desired participation this year was 1,000+, but actual participation was an even 400 participants. In the past three years, organizers Amy Lee and Ashley have run one of the most popular and innovative opens in the U.S., but in no year has the revenue from entry fees and other sources been able to cover the large prize fund.
Millionaire Chess is unique in that it has two phases. The first phase is a seven-round open tournament. The top four finalists in each rating section in the open proceed to Millionaire Monday, a rapid knockout tournament, to determine the final victor. There is also a de facto third stage, a playoff stage, which arises between the open and the knockout tournament as all players tied for a final slot or slots in Millionaire Monday face off.
As is typical of open tournaments, the top seeds did not finish in the top places. In fact, none of the top four seeds, GMs Baskiran Adhiban, Sam Shankland, Rauf Mamedov, or Eduardo Iturrizaga made it through to Millionaire Monday.
The big winner in the open was Jones who was the only player to make it through to Monday without a playoff. He finished the open with 6.0/7. His biggest win came in round seven in a lengthy affair (105 moves!) against top-seed Adhiban where he proved that bishops can be better than knights when all pawns are on the same side of the board.
Jones had a great open, winning often in the endgame, not with his trademark attacks. | Photos by David Llada.
Another big winner emerging from the open was GM Jeffery Xiong. His fine performance earned him a spot in the top 100 by live rating! He is now the youngest player in the top 100. He landed a nice blow in the second round.
How long until Xiong makes 2700?
Although Adhiban missed out on the finals due to his round-seven loss to Jones, his earlier tournament went quite well. He won with a not difficult, but still pleasing attack against GM Alex Shimanov in round five.
The players advancing to the qualifiers (not including GM Jones who qualified directly for Millionaire Monday on the basis of his score) were GMs Rauf Mamedov, Xiong, Cordova, Swiercz, and Zhou.
The qualifying format was a single round-robin at 7+3, seven minutes plus a three-second increment.
Ironically, the three lowest seeds (in bold) of the five qualified. The eventual winner Swiercz played some of the most fun chess in the qualifiers. After losing his opening game to Mamedov, he won two games with classic "queen and helper" (any ChessKids out there?) mating patterns targeting g7.
Millionaire Monday. Let's go! #MillionaireChess— Cristian Chirila ( @CristianChirila) October 10, 2016
While the energized new Chessbrah Chirila did make it to Millionaire Monday and win the U2500 section, we will focus on the games in the top section.
Jones got Zhou and Swiercz got Cordova in the Millionaire Monday match-ups. There were two games between each player played at a time control of 25+5, twenty-five minutes plus a five-second increment. If tied, more two-game matches at diminishing time controls would have been played, but those were not needed in the top section.
Jones and Swiercz won their first games in the mini-match and drew their second comfortably to advance. Jones was a bit fortunate against Zhou as he was struggling when Zhou overpressed.
That meant that Jones and Swiercz faced off in the finals. In a truly high-stakes game, Jones was completely winning when a time-pressure disaster struck. Will this be blunder of the week on ChessCenter? Tune in to find out!
That meant that Swiercz received the big check. By our reckoning, this is young Swiercz's biggest payday by far.
Chief Tournament Director Ken Ballou writing out the BIG CHECK pic.twitter.com/CSXB0NUsSO— Millionaire Chess ( @HighStakesChess) October 11, 2016
Swiercz received plenty of congratulations on Twitter for his big day. Most notable was his Polish countryman, Piorun, who seems to share a word-a-day calendar with a certain presidential nominee.
Bravo, Dariusz Swiercz!! Great fighting spirit in the final match vs Jones and huge victory in the huge tournament @HighStakesChess!— Kacper Piorun ( @kacparov91) October 10, 2016
An earlier version of this article mistakenly said that Dariusz Swiercz is currently attending Webster University, which has been corrected.