Reflection on MC1 – Oct. 23/14

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It’s been ten days since the Millionaire Chess Open finished, but the reality hasn’t totally sunk in yet. I am still in awe at how it unfolded last week!

And now, as I write this piece, all I have in my heart is very sincere gratitude to everyone for their support, to those who were there in person, and to those who supported us from the sidelines of 44 countries. I am blown away by how many people saw our dream and supported us to achieve it.


From the early days of our vision to bring a new spotlight on the greatest game on earth, between GM Maurice Ashley and myself, up until this moment, we had never imagined how big this could be after just the first tournament. All that we saw then was the opportunity to give our best in order to add a milestone to chess history, but it was all our supporters that made the event this huge.

With the acceptance, the adulation and the joys we saw on the face of the participants, and certainly on the face of the winners, we realize that we need to keep the momentum going.  And if there is anything that has resonated stronger to us after all this is that this isn’t something we can accomplish on our own anymore. I thought we could get through a few tournaments before the vision caught on in its full glory, but we so underestimated the power of the world that loves chess. We got a ton of feedback: from a Grandmaster and a child chess prodigy, from those who knew nothing of the chess tournament world and now are huge fans. All this has made a very strong impact in us. Through all the comments, one common thread stands out:  that after one MC, the world has seen what we been trying to do and many would give their complete support.  It’s humbling to see how true that has been.



Those that are close to me know that I thrive on personal perfection. I set my own bar in everything that I do, business or personal. They know that I believe that there is always a lot that can be done in order to make something better. For this endeavor, I gave myself an overall rating of 6 on a 1 to 10 scale, but after seeing, hearing and reading all of the comments, I know our participants rated us from a 9 to 12 range.  This alone has made me recall the challenges we encountered as we worked towards the event, but all this has been replaced with a deep sense of satisfaction and personal joy.  And those feelings have served as the impetus for moving forward….

Right now, my focus is on building a new team to work towards MC2.  I have started on my pencil pushing to make MC2 better, using the lessons learned in MC1 as my reference.  And, come to think of it, if I hadn’t been as hands-on as I was in MC1, I wouldn’t have learned this much.


I made the promise to guarantee the million dollars personally as proof of how serious I believed in what we were doing. With the turnout, I have already proven wrong those who thought that I made that promise only as a way to make a quick buck. Maurice and I had to work with a skeletal crew because we aimed at putting all our financial resources into the tournament, not into our pockets.  Indeed, it was worth losing the opportunity to work with a bigger crew, losing the opportunity to be with family and friends longer that we would have liked, losing the time to spend for our personal selves in order to achieve our vision. We never wavered on that promise. We also needed to work on the ground level for MC1 because we had to know EVERYTHING that was required to make it the success that it was. Shaking hands on the sidelines was never going to make us better at building our vision. But it was all quite worth it in the end.


Maurice and I now realize that we cannot execute the true greatness of our vision by ourselves. We now have the knowledge of how to work with partners who will help take this event to a whole new level. This was something I admit I objected to before, but now I totally understand after having talked to each and every one of those who expressed interest in joining forces with us.  We are ready to partner strategically with those who can help us elevate chess even higher and even faster.

There are too many people to say thank you to for MC1; I could write the list forever. Big or small, their contributions will never be forgotten. Those who saw how my family helped arrange the tournament hall before the event would understand how people in our lives threw themselves into contributing to the success of MC#1 with all their hearts.  And from the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you to all of them.


I say thank you too to all who questioned if we could do this. Without the negative, one can never have the positive. The negative feedbacks we got gave me the opportunity to meet those who came to our defense.  Indeed, to have been able to make Millionaire Chess happen is the most evident proof of our determination to succeed despite the doubters.  And it is our gift to our supporters since day one and to those who joined us later. And to have been able to make the Millionaire Chess Open the success that it was is the greatest reward indeed.


I have always tried hard to exemplify the motto Actions speak louder than words. So, I say thank you to everyone for giving me another opportunity to prove this true.  We will continue to align ourselves with partners who will journey with us as we continue working towards our vision of bringing chess into the mainstream.

We couldn’t have done it WITHOUT all of those who stood by us. Thank you. And see you next time!



Slideshow on Vimeo 


8 thoughts on “Reflection on MC1 – Oct. 23/14

  1. You are welcome Amy. But, you have to understand from my point of view. Being an Amy Lee/Maurice Ashley/MC supporter was a no brainer. Your reputations, your character, your integrity were all on the line. The million dollars was a small thing compared to all of that. That’s how I knew this was going to be a success.

    BTW What a great blog post. You are a terrific writer. I love reading your posts. You write from the heart in such a wonderful way.

  2. Thank you Amy! Your vision and support have created a major milestone in the history of the greatest and best-loved game on the planet. If you get some time off to relax, I recommend the beautiful little history book called The Immortal Game by David Shenk. In the 22nd century — when chess is taught in nearly every elementary school on the planet because of its huge, proven benefits for mental development — you and Maurice will be mentioned in a similar book for your courage and bring chess into the spotlight in our more primitive times. 🙂 Well done!

    1. Hi Damian,

      Thank you for your comment and for following MC. Will check out that book. And yes, looking forward to having our children (and grandchildren) read our names in the history of chess years from now!


  3. It was the most exciting event for chess fans here in the Philippines, perhaps because Wesley So was a big part of it. I didn’t sleep once the knockout matches got going, and it was worth all the effort…Arianne Caoili, btw, was really great at live commentary. She’s articulate, charming, and funny… We owe you and Maurice a big thanks for putting together such a great tournament.

    1. Hello Eliseo,

      Nice to hear from somebody from the Philippines! Thank you for expressing your appreciation of our efforts. Looking forward to hearing from you again.


  4. Amy,

    I applaud you for taking a risk on this and for planning another attempt. I think you will have more attendance any where east of Oklahoma given that 65+% of the active USCF members live east of Oklahoma.

    Just for reference, here is some analysis that I did to find the US Chess population center:

    I hope the next round gives the rewards you deserve.

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