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Million-dollar chess tournament coming to Vegas

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Updated: 9/03/2014 10:21 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV – Las Vegas has been home to many big-money tournaments, but a new one coming to the Strip next month is the first of its kind.

The Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino will host over 500 players from 39 countries in a chess tournament accurately coined the 'Millionaire Chess.' The tournament will take place Oct. 9-13 and includes a $1 Million prize pool, which is the biggest in the history of chess tournaments.

Each participant will pay an entry fee of at least $1,000 to be included in the field of prospective hopefuls. Despite the entry fees, the tournament coordinators are in line to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Canadian entrepreneur Amy Lee will finance the event alongside her business partner Maurice Ashley, who is the only African-American chess grandmaster.

Ashley expects the pair to take a monetary hit the first time around, but hopes that this tournament is the first of many to come.

“If we only lose $200,000,” Mr. Ashley said, “we’ll be dancing in the streets.”

Having put on the HB Global Challenge tournament held in Minneapolis in 2005, which had the previous all-time record purse of $500,000, Ashley is no stranger to high stakes chess. The HB Global Challenge lost hundreds of thousands its first year, and didn’t see a second year.

Lee sees the Millionaire Chess project as a three-to-five year venture, and hopes to at least break even by next year by luring potential corporate sponsors and adding events in other cities.

Lee and Ashley hope the Las Vegas tournament will help raises the popularity of chess worldwide.

“I hope this will catapult chess to the next level,” Ashley said.

In addition to the largest payout in chess history, players will also receive a free show in the casino, complimentary food and beverage, and even limousine service to the tournament’s top participants.

Cameras will be rolling on many of the games and will be aired live via the Internet for a worldwide audience.

After meeting at a personal development program in 2009, where Ashley ran a chess class, Lee and Ashely began a yearly conversation that led to the creation of Millionaire Chess.

Despite Lee knowing there are many doubters that the Millionaire Chess tournament will be successful, she explained the tournament “may be crazy to a lot of people, but someone has to be the forward-thinking person.”



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