Wesley So Wins 6-Figure Check in Millionaire Chess

Wesley So Wins 6-Figure Check in Millionaire Chess

MikeKlein
FM MikeKlein
Oct 15, 2014, 6:06 AM |
39 | Chess Event Coverage

You don't have to be Fabiano Caruana to win $100,000 in a tournament. Being in the world top ten does help, though.

A few weeks after Caruana, the world number two, earned six-figures for his demolition of the Sinquefield Cup, GM Wesley So earned a check for the same amount by winning the first Millionaire Chess Tournament, the most lucrative open tournament in the history of chess.

In doing so, he also crept into the world top ten for the first time.

The event fittingly took place in America's gambling capital, Las Vegas. Not that chess is gambling, but most come to Sin City knowing that they'll leave with less money than they came with, save a few fortunate visitors.

GM Wesley So (All photos courtesy Lennart Ootes).

The $1,000 USD entry fee was paid by more than 550 players (even GMs had to ante up) from 44 countries. Organizers GM Maurice Ashley and his partner Amy Lee have been quoted as saying that they knew the first year would be a financial loss but they are confident of growth in future events.

"A million dollars and Vegas go together, and chess needs to get a few facelifts," Ashley told the BBC (don't miss their video report!). "This is the United States -- we do things big, we do things grandiose. If you're going to get any kind of public attention in the U.S., you've got to bring the excitement. A million dollars in Vegas spells excitement."

The unmistakable skyline of Las Vegas.

The format guaranteed this excitement (quite unlike the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, which was unexpectedly over after only eight rounds). All sections competed for seven rounds, then the top four scores in the open would advance to a knockout "Millionaire Monday" (players in the open continued to compete for two additional rounds for norm purposes).

WIM Arianna Caoili, fittingly also of Filipino descent, called the action along with American GM Robert Hess.

So, who is attempting to change his FIDE affiliation to the U.S., was joined in the finals by fellow American GM Ray Robson. Both scored 6/7 in the first four days of Millionaire Chess.

Robson's ticket to the finals looked very unsure on Sunday night, as he was much worse against Hungarian GM David Berczes. Robson is known for maximizing his chances in worse positions, and on this day he did just that.

So beat three American GMs to get to Millionaire Monday, including GM Alexander Ivanov, GM Alex Lenderman and GM Timur Gareev. In round seven, Gareev was short on space and went for a desparate attack, which So diffused by offering his queen.

That left two more placements in the finals. Four players tied on 5.5/7 for those spots: Chinese GMs Yu Yangyi and Jianchao Zhou, Belarussian GM Sergei Azarov (who came back after losing to a 2290 junior player in round one), and American GM Daniel Naroditsky.

Here were the rankings after regulation play concluded Sunday night.

2014 Millionaire Chess | Round 7 Standings (Top)

Rk. SNo Name FED Rtg Pts.
1 1 GM SO Wesley PHI 2755 6
11 GM ROBSON Ray USA 2628 6
3 4 GM YU Yangyi CHN 2697 5,5
8 GM AZAROV Sergei BLR 2639 5,5
14 GM NARODITSKY Daniel USA 2601 5,5
19 GM ZHOU Jianchao CHN 2580 5,5
7 2 GM BU Xiangzhi CHN 2710 5
6 GM DREEV Aleksey RUS 2654 5
9 GM NAJER Evgeniy RUS 2635 5
10 GM SHANKLAND Samuel L USA 2633 5
12 GM GAREEV Timur USA 2612 5
13 GM ORTIZ SUAREZ Isan Reynaldo CUB 2611 5
17 GM SADORRA Julio Catalino PHI 2592 5
23 GM KAIDANOV Gregory S USA 2569 5
35 IM KADRIC Denis BIH 2473 5
37 GM BERCZES David HUN 2471 5
44 ABEL Dennes GER 2446 5
86 IM KARATOROSSIAN David ARM 2250 5


After a series of rapid playoff games, both Chinese GMs advanced to join So and Robson for Millionaire Monday.

Robson and So, who are teammates and actually room together at Webster University, rose up early on the deciding day. Robson took out double-Olympiad gold medalist Yu in the semifinals. In fast chess games, grabbing pawns and walking kings doesn't usually work out, but Robson made it stick.

Robson then drew game two to advance to the finals.

GM Ray Robson at the 2014 U.S. Championship (photo: Mike Klein).

So matched with Jianchao and after a few draws, the Pinoy-American won games three and four to challenge his roommate in the finals.

A normal draw in round one was followed by a flipping of colors and one final game for the $100,000 first prize.

Robson still took home $50,000 for second.

The two Chinese players had to go seven games before Yu emerged as the third-place winner. His check was for $25,000 while Jianchao earned $14,000 for fourth.

Update: member IM Kacparov played in the tournament and likes to add:

“Generally, I see one important thing that was missed. Rounds 8 and 9 of the Open were not just "for norm purposes" - the remaining players were fighting for quite big prizes, starting with $8,000 for 5th place.

It is also not true that "they'll leave with less money than they came with, save a few fortunate visitors." - there were prizes up to place 50 in every category, so actually more than half of the players got a money prize.

You can find the results of the OPEN here, together with prizes:

http://millionairechess.com/standings/prizes-mc-open.pdf

I think that final results after 9 round should also be placed in the article, and big prizes until place 50 should be mentioned. If you read the article now, you have the feeling that there was a fight for 4 top places, and everyone else would go home with nothing... :-)”

So here we go! :-)

2014 Millionaire Chess | Final Standings

Rk. SNo Name FED Rtg Pts.
1 8 GM AZAROV Sergei BLR 2639 6,5
10 GM SHANKLAND Samuel L USA 2633 6,5
12 GM GAREEV Timur USA 2612 6,5
13 GM ORTIZ SUAREZ Isan Reynaldo CUB 2611 6,5
14 GM NARODITSKY Daniel USA 2601 6,5
37 GM BERCZES David HUN 2471 6,5
7 1 GM SO Wesley PHI 2755 6
2 GM BU Xiangzhi CHN 2710 6
6 GM DREEV Aleksey RUS 2654 6
7 GM AKOBIAN Varuzhan USA 2640 6
9 GM NAJER Evgeniy RUS 2635 6
11 GM ROBSON Ray USA 2628 6
17 GM SADORRA Julio Catalino PHI 2592 6
18 GM LENDERMAN Aleksandr USA 2589 6
20 GM FELGAER Ruben ARG 2577 6
21 GM RAMIREZ Alejandro USA 2574 6
23 GM KAIDANOV Gregory S USA 2569 6
24 GM KULAOTS Kaido EST 2564 6
27 GM CHIRILA Ioan-Cristian ROU 2529 6
36 GM FISHBEIN Alexander USA 2472 6
21 3 GM LE Quang Liem VIE 2706 5,5
4 GM YU Yangyi CHN 2697 5,5
15 GM KACHEISHVILI Giorgi GEO 2597 5,5
16 GM GHAEM MAGHAMI Ehsan IRI 2594 5,5
19 GM ZHOU Jianchao CHN 2580 5,5
25 GM BRUNELLO Sabino ITA 2552 5,5
26 GM MARGVELASHVILI Giorgi GEO 2540 5,5
28 GM MATAMOROS FRANCO Carlos S. ECU 2517 5,5
31 GM IVANOV Alexander USA 2508 5,5
34 IM CHANDRA Akshat USA 2488 5,5
35 IM KADRIC Denis BIH 2473 5,5
38 IM XIONG Jeffery USA 2470 5,5
41 IM DROZDOWSKI Kacper POL 2458 5,5
45 IM KJARTANSSON Gudmundur ISL 2439 5,5

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