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$1 Million Chess Event Coming To Las Vegas

Organizers Expect To Lose Money En Route To Making Game More Popular


In October, a chess tournament with a $1 million guaranteed prize pool will hit Las Vegas. As of Sept. 1, there were 550 players registered, including more than two dozen grandmasters.

The $1,000 buy-in event will be held at Planet Hollywood Casino and award a $100,000 top prize. Notably absent from the list is world no. 1 Magnus Carlsen, the highest-rated player in history.

According to the New York Times, organizers are expecting to lose money,

Amy Lee, an entrepreneur from Vancouver, Canada, and Maurice Ashley, an African-American grandmaster, are partners in the venture, which is still searching for more sponsors.

The event could bring extra business to Caesars properties on the Strip, though.

The $1 million prize pool is the largest ever for an open chess tournament.

From The Times:

[Lee] said that she saw Millionaire Chess as a three-to-five-year investment, which would include attracting corporate sponsorships and holding tournaments in other cities. “We are looking at an Easter option right now,” she said. She hopes to break even by next year. […] Ms. Lee said that Millionaire Chess “may be crazy to a lot of people, but someone has to be the forward-thinking person.”

This isn’t the first time that chess and the world of casino gaming have had some sort of synergy. Two years ago, poker player Jennifer Shahade, a two-time U.S. Women’s chess champion, penned a piece for Card Player on the high-stakes world of chess.

Also in October, PokerStars is holding a tournament that will combine chess and poker. The event will be held at the UKIPT Isle of Man and feature a £220 buy-in.

Basically, the turbo chess matches will determine your stack in the poker portion.

Shahade, who will be in Europe in October for the EPT, WCOOP and PokerStars’ poker-chess event, said that it is “exciting to see all the poker and chess synergy” going on these days.

Other poker players who are very strong chess players include Dan Smith, Jeff Sawyer, Martin Staszko, Jedynak Radoslaw and Ylon Schwartz but none of them were on the registrant list as of Sept. 1. The event has multiple divisions based on skill level.

While the chess tournament is going on, the Planet Hollywood Poker Room will be running its Phamous Poker Series VI, which features a $565 buy-in, $500,000 guaranteed event (the winner is guaranteed at least $100,000), along with a heads-up and bounty/survivor event. A total of six events make up the series, which begins on Oct. 9.

Tags: Las Vegas,   Chess