The 3rd, and perhaps final, edition of the Millionaire Chess Open was held from October 6 -10 at Atlantic City.
I had the good fortune of being able to participate this time, after being unable to play last year in the 2nd edition of Millionaire Chess. The tournament has been organized for the last 3 years by GM Maurice Ashley and entrepreneur Amy Lee. The duo has strived to introduce an element of high-stakes into the chess world through a very novel format, in order to elevate the stature of the game, assist the players to earn prizes which were unheard of before in the chess world, and attract sponsors. This year, the prize fund had been considerably reduced as the tournament did not achieve the requisite number of entries. Nonetheless, the prizes were still the largest for an Open Chess Tournament on US soil, and most likely the world, with the exception of the earlier two Millionaire Chess editions which had shattered all global records.
As I entered the hall, I saw the familiar purple color of the Millionaire Chess Tournament rippled across the giant hall and cascading down the playing tables.
It felt good to be back.
In Round 6, it was again a game with a fellow youngster, GM Samuel Sevian. I surprised him in the opening with an offbeat variation and, thanks to some good preparation, became an hour ahead on the clock. We agreed to a draw shortly after in a more or less equal position.
[headline style="8" align="center" headline_tag="h4" top_margin="0" bottom_margin="0"] October 11, 2016 - It was Millionaire Monday time [/headline]
The 4 players, in rating order, that would compete for the 2400-2549 rating categeory prize were as follows:
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GM Ioan Christian Chirila - Romania
GM Barbosa Oliver - Phillipines
IM Akshat Chandra - USA
IM Awonder Liang - USA
In the 1st match, I was paired against GM Chirila. We would play 2 games at a time control of 25 minutes with a 5 second delay. I was Black in the first game, and decided to repeat the opening move which brought me victory against Eugene. But victory was not to be, as I fell into a much worse position after a big mistake on move 11. I tried to defend as tenaciously as I could, but in the end my position was just too difficult to overcome.
And so ended my rollercoaster of an experience at the 2016 Millionaire Chess Open.
I was pretty happy to have had the chance to compete on Millionaire Monday, and even though I wasn't able to come 1st, it was still a pretty memorable experience.
Thanks to Maurice and Amy for providing chess players from all over the world the chance to compete for high stake prizes, something which isn't synonymous with chess.
Their vision will provide inspiration to other organizers, and help lead chess to eventually attract the sponsors it deserves.
I truly believe that the enterprising duo have successfully bent the arc of chess towards a new path.
Undoubtedly, it was a Million Dollar Show.
Below is a brief video clip of an interview in Atlantic City by Jennifer Shahade, Senior Digital Editor of US Chess Federation.
Since the official photographer missed taking my picture during the 7 rounds and Millionaire Monday, and private cameras were not allowed, I have no relevant pictures to upload from the tournament. Official event photos can be viewed here.