First, US GM Ray Robson upset Olympiad double Gold medalist Yu Yangyi of China in the semis to qualify for the finals. And then it was GM Wesley So’s turn to beat yet another Chinese. This time GM Zhou Jianchao, 3-1, to earn the other spot. In the finals, both grand-masters, who are students of the SPICE Program run by GM Susan Polgar, drew their first game.
In the second and decisive game, Wesley played aggressively with the white pieces. On the 28th move, GM Robson resigned to hand the championship over to his teammate. So took home the grand prize of $100,000 and Ray got $50,000 as runner up.
The inaugural Millionaire Chess Open was held at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas from 9-13th October 2014, and was participated by no less than 550 chess professionals and amateurs alike from 44 countries. Prizes went down to over 50 places in six different sections. Over 60 percent of players went home with a cash prize.
When asked why she wanted to create the Millionaire Chess tournaments, Amy Lee, the Vancouver- based financial backer and business co-partner of the project said: “I wanted to guarantee the million dollars because I believe in the future of this tournament and brand. We want to reward brilliance. We want to change the face of chess. I thought it would take a few tournaments before the public would understand our vision but, after this week I know they get it and I couldn’t be more proud.”
For his part, tournament founder and host GM Maurice Ashley, the first African-American grandmaster, 3- time national championship coach, 2-time author, ESPN commentator, iPhone app designer and puzzle inventor said, “This tournament is something 12 years in the making for me. When my partner Amy Lee and I started to put this all together a year ago we wanted it to be an experience offered to chess tournament players unlike any other event ever.”
GM Ashley continued, “Millionaire Chess was something we felt was needed to bring chess not only into the global spotlight but further into the minds of the mainstream public. It has broken new ground and taken this classic royal game to a never-before-seen level.”