Monday, October 27, 2014

First Ever Millionaire Chess Open Tournament - A Grand Experience

I came back 15th October from Las Vegas after playing in Millionaire Chess Open Tournament that was held during 9th to 13th October at Planet Hollywood. My son Ahyan Zaman also played the tournament while my wife, daughter and mother-in-law accompanied us. We thoroughly enjoyed participating in this high stake chess tournament which exceeded our expectations in all angles. MC partners GM Maurice Ashley and Amy Lee went extra miles to make sure everything about this tournament is classy and beyond comparison with other traditional or regular chess tournaments in terms of playing experience or following the event as a spectator.

We flew from San Francisco at 8th night and after checking in at Planet Hollywood, we saw Amy Lee and Maurice Ashley well after midnight still receiving the guests and players at conference center reception desk. Each player received a gift pack that includes a nice leather chess bag, 6 months free ICC membership, MC branded chocolate, wrist band, various discount coupons amongst. The next morning we attended the opening breakfast buffet where famous Indian-Japanese born Comedian Dan Nainan made started the event with funny jokes that made us laugh aloud. That's when I met lot of our team mates whom I have been knowing for last 8/9 months online - Daaim, Adia, Brendan, Keith, Jones, IM Akshat Chandra and his father, Christopher Yoo and his father to name a few. We also had big group from Fremont there - other than me and Ahyan there were Shafieen and his parents, coach Ted, IM Ricardo, little kid Alekhine. As per my count 582 players participated in 6 sections although it may be a little more or less. After the comedy show we had speeches from GM Maurice Ashley and Amy Lee before we went out for red carpet photo shoots with Maurice in a long but quick queue.

The first round started 7 minutes late of 12 noon. That I thought was a pretty good success for a first round of a first time tournament. But I saw Amy was not happy even for being only 7 minutes late. There were extensive security check including scanner, cell phone check-in station as well as separate scanner for players rest room. The playing hall was huge and square shaped. All the world champions' large pictures were showing up in banners. As players from 44 countries registered, we saw 43 flags flying around in the stage, only missing Switzerland as the Swiss player registered at the very last moment when organizers had no way to order a large new flag. I and Ahyan took picture with the Bangladesh flag on top of the stage. Top boards were played in the stage with the moves digitally getting transferred to the live broadcast camera feeds. Top camera and filming crews were hired for the event. The 3 commentators in live broadcast area were - British IM Lawrence Trent, Australian WIM Arianne Caoili and American GM Robert Hess. The live broadcast / games viewing room were adjacent but separate from the playing venue where we could go and enjoy the fun filled commentaries from them. The second round started at 7 PM. But for the rest of the events it was 11 AM and 6 PM, 2 rounds daily.

The organizers set the tone of the tournament in right direction from the very beginning and the players were all well-behaved and pleasure to meet with. The playing area had a festive atmosphere all around. Whenever I would get chance between the breaks of my games I would either go to skettles room to analyze my game with my opponent after finishing it or sit in the live viewing room and follow the commentary with interest. Mauruce Ashley worked with MIT Lab to unleash a new techological advancement in Chess Spectatorship -  DeepView. To know more about it, you can check out this article -

There were various chess merchandises available including what MC offers in their web site's shop page. We bought hoodies and T-shirts with custom prints whatever we liked. The whole playing venue were so lively all the time no matter what time of day or night you step in. We bought 3 chess sets with Millionaire logo on the board and got this signed by GM Maurice Ashley on the back.

Performance wise it was not a good tournament for me. I won 2 games, lost 3 games and drew 2 games scoring 3 out of 7 in Under 2200 section. But Ahyan won 3 games, lost 1 game and drew 3 games scoring 4.5 out of 7. This he was placed 13th to 17th jointly and received $1000 prize money. I got placed in 53rd position in my group and got $67. There was a blitz tournament at 12th October night where 200 players participate in the 4 round double game G/5 tournament. Here I scored 3 out of 8. My games can be found in these links -  Game 1Game 2Game 3, Game 4Game 5Game 6 and Game 7. Ahyan lost 4th game scoresheet so here are the other 6 games played by him - Game 1Game 2Game 3Game 5Game 6 and Game 7.

12th October was also Ahyan's birthday as well as National Chess Day of USA. Amy Lee arranged a pizza party and bug house tournament in the afternoon that day and we contributed a birthday cake to celebrate Ahyan's birthday at along with it. Kids of 13 or younger and their parents attended that event. At that party I got introduced to another Bangladeshi Shafkat who, after talking for a while, turned out to be my batch mate from Notre Dame College more than 20 years back. He was in group 7 and I was in group 1 - that's why we didn't directly know each other earlier. Shafkat's son is playing in this tournament and they flew from Long Island of East Coast for this.

At 10th October Friday 5 of my colleagues from Salesforce came to the playing venue from San Francisco for 1 night to cheer me up - William Jager, Michelle Zauss, Christopher San Nicholas, John Jackson and Paul Endo. Michelle's old school friend also joined them in the venue. They actually gave me a wave during my play and the TDs had to warn them not to do so! They are a funny bunch on themselves and we hanged around for a while after my game was finished.

In the open section the tournament was won by Wesley So with confident play from start to finish. On the way of winning the $100,000 check, he defeated Rab Robson in the final who received $50,000 check as runner up. There were lots of coverage on this event before during and after the tournament was finished. Here are few links that shows how extensively media covered this tournament.

If you want to see the winners of each sections who received very handsome payouts, check this -

For standings in each section, please check out this -

The following video will show you the major happenings of Millionaire Monday in Milionaire Chess Open.

In Millionaire Monday October 13th, we visited Las Vegas's newest attraction The LINQ, the world's highest highroller which reminded me of London Eye and Dhaka's Shishu Park. We stayed back 1 more day in Las Vegas attending a time share presentation at 14th morning before coming back San Francisco at night. It was a memorable event for all of us and I already can't wait for the next year to participate in this event again.

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