The Decision: Millionaire Chess Open

The time has come… the decision will soon be made on whether the mission of the Millionaire Chess Open can continue from this point forward. Grandmaster Maurice Ashley recently released a letter titled, “It’s Decision Time”.

Now, the date has finally arrived and despite a tremendous showering of support, the hopeful number quoted at the top of this piece did not materialize. Actually, given that only 76 players signed up by the deadline, we may want to call up Amy and Maurice sitting by the lake last summer and tell them to go canoeing instead! (Hopefully, the canoe doesn’t sink!)

GM Maurice Ashley along with Millionaire Chess supporter GM Gregory Kaidanov. Photo by millionairechess.com.

Seventy-six players? That is correct. Seventy-six players. That is how many players sought to embark on a mission to change chess and the way it is perceived in America. Certainly there were hundreds or perhaps thousands who want to see a different direction for chess and perhaps would like to support this mission. Over the past three months, there was been a lot of data collected on the myriad of viewpoints.

Facebook is saturated with long threads about the Millionaire Chess Open. So after all of the debate and discourse, where does that leave the tournament? The Millionaire Chess organization was shooting for a target of 1500 players by March 31st.


Will Millionaire Chess take flight or be left in the hangar to sit idly by? Should we leave this battle to others as chess continues to struggle for relevance in a bleak American landscape? Is this all worth the risk?


Clearly seventy-six is a far cry from the goal, but what has occurred is a better understanding of ideas that players are willing to support even if the Millionaire vision needs more time to come into fruition. We should commend the Millionaire Open team for making the sacrifice to give us a vision for the future.

So… April 7th is the day that Ashley and partner Amy Lee will announce to the chess world the decision on whether to proceed with the vision either in tournament form and/or to begin another initiative to construct a lasting and sustainable plan for high-stakes tournaments.

If one looks at the effort, it is a valiant attempt to direct the conversation into a positive outcome. The hope is that America energy will not be limited to the scholastic explosion or the Internet craze, but a sustainable model of success for amateurs and professionals alike.

Read Ashley’s “It’s Decision Time

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

4 Comments

  1. Curious…I realize Ashley is relatively well known in chess circles, but might an even bigger ‘star power’ chess celeb be in order to help push this kind of project?

    1. Yes… I have discussed that with him. He was working on something, but it’s not that easy to get a Will Smith or someone like Magnus Carlsen to commit. Hikaru Nakamura was vocally against the idea and he admires Maurice greatly. Most of the European-based GMs will not support this mission. I’m not sure if he approached Carlsen, but I may try to get an interview with him after he makes the decision. I’ll ask him about his overtures to celebrities.

  2. Pingback: Daily Chess News Links April 4, 2014 | blog.chesscafe.com
  3. I agree that you need publicity to reach outside the tournament chess playing population. Recently saw an article about Carmelo Anthony’s interest in playing chess. Ashley should have jumped on that opening.

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