Las Vegas: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Время публикации: 11.10.2014 06:03 | Последнее обновление: 11.10.2014 09:05

The Millionaire Chess Open has taken its start on October 9th in Las Vegas, the American city which is well-known for the 1999 FIDE world championship to the chess fans and for its vivid gambling life to the others.

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550 players from more than 40 countries are fighting for the prize fund of 1 million dollars, which is double the previous record for the largest guaranteed payout ever awarded in a chess tournament. The top participants of the main section are GMs Wesley So (Philippines), Bu Xiangzhi, Yu Yangyi (both - China), Le Quang Liem (Vietnam), Alexey Dreev, Evgeniy Najer (both - Russia), Rauf Mamedov (Azerbaijan), Sergey Azarov (Belarus), Varuzhan Akobian, Sam Shankland, Ray Robson, Timur Gareev (all - USA), etc.

According to the organizers, the Millionaire Open is different from any other chess open in history. First of all, there is an enormous prize fund of 1 million dollars, while the winner of the main section will get $100,000 ($50,000 for the 2nd place, $25,000 for the 3rd, etc). The tournament is divided into many separate sections (according to rating), any of which can boast a prize fund comparable to the main section. At the same time, it should be noted that the minimum entry fee has been $1000 and was increasing up to $2000 in case of late registration. The entry fee was obligatory for each participant irrespective of their titles and merits.

The ultimate winners of each sections will be determined in the knock-out finals, which are now being preceded by the qualifying Swiss tournaments. The main (Open) qualifier consists of 9 rounds, but the intermediate winners will be determined already after round 7 (the tie-breaks will also take place if necessary). Those who won't qualify from the Open section will move on to play rounds 8 and 9 to determine who wins 5th place and under. In the other sections, however, the tournament will be officially over by the night of October 12 for players who do not pass on to the final stage.

The Millionaire Monday (final stage) will take place on October 13 and will consist of separate double-round knock-out tournaments in each section. The losers of the semi-finals will play each other as well as the finalists, to determine who takes 3rd and who takes 4th place. The time control for the finals will be 25 minites per game plus a 5-second delay which is another interesting feature of the Millionaire Open. The habitual increment is replaced by a 5-seconds delay: that is, a player's clock are paused for 5 seconds while pressed before counting down, so that a player isn't able to save up the time but keeps a possibility of recording the move and briefly collecting his/her thoughts.

Tie-break games with a shorter time control will also be used during the final stage if necessary. However, the time control for the qualifying stages is classical: 120 min/ 40 moves + 30 minites to the end, except for the same 5-seconds delay throughout a game instead of an increment.

Apart from the huge prize fund, the Millionaire Open is noteworthy for its unprecedented anti-cheating regulations. Any kind of electronic devices are strictly prohibited in the tournament area (which means all the facilities and adjacent foyers as well) without the expressed permission of a tournament director. All the players are scanned upon entering the playing area. Let us just quote the official website:

"Absolutely no one will be allowed in without being scanned by security. There will be a cellphone check-in station near the security scanners. However, it is highly recommended that players leave their cellphones in their hotel rooms if possible... ...If there is clear and indisputable evidence of cheating of any kind, electronic or otherwise, the player will be forfeited from the tournament. No refunds will be given, and the player will be banned from all future Millionaire Chess events." However, the regulations also inform us that "no one is allowed to accuse a player of cheating without actual evidence".

The chief organizers of the event are the American GM and well-known chess commentator Maurice Ashley, as well as his longtime friend, self-made millionaire Amy Lee. “I am thrilled to see this tournament come together,” stated the first. “A great deal of work went into making this event possible, but our reward will be the opportunity place chess in the spotlight it deserves... Every detail of the tournament has been the subject of careful consideration."

“There were many who questioned whether it was possible for a chess tournament to guarantee a million dollars in prize money,” stated Amy Lee. “But here we are. I am so proud of what we have achieved, and so excited to see this day arrive.”

The tournament has already attracted the attention of many major media outlets, including the BBC. According to the organizers, both a live-stream broadcast and a dedicated smart phone app are providing all viewers with seats at the edge of the top boards; several documentaries are being filmed on-site.

It probably goes without saying that the organizers are providing chess sets and clocks for the whole event, unlike in many other open tournaments in the US.

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3 rounds of the Open section have been completed for the moment. Yu Yangyi, Jeffery Xiong, Aleksandr Lenderman, Giogri Margvelashvili and Carlos Matamoros have the perfect score. They are pursued by the group of 18 players (2.5 points each) which includes Bu Xianghi and Wesley So.


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