Dear Players, Honored Guests, Family and Friends,
MC does not have a long history yet, so you don’t have to worry about the length of my speech.
408 – this is the number of days that has made Millionaire Chess come true!! 408 days ago, our journey began when Maurice Ashley and I decided to change the history of chess, to give a “Face Lift” on how chess is perceived.
As a world well known chess commentator and being the first black Grand Master, Maurice doesn’t need much of an introduction. As for me, while I am not good at playing chess, I am an Entrepreneur. In fact, it is because of our differences that led us to be partners in MC, because our differences complement each other in this journey we’ve undertaken together.
I am very grateful to Maurice for sharing with me the whole concept of open chess tournaments. It gave me the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the chess world, and to challenge myself to help bring this ancient game to the modern world on a whole different level.
When we first started planning for this event, we had an image of what the tournament and the venue would look like. Little did we realize how challenging it would be! I can say it was beyond our imagination, or my imagination.
We asked people all over the world for their thoughts on having a high stake chess tournament. While we received positive comments from many that boosted our confidence, the negative comments made us doubt ourselves: were we making the right decision?
Many people thought we were dreaming. We came across many hurdles that we did not anticipate. In the end, we tackled all of them one by one.
I cannot find the words to express how proud I am of our team, our volunteers and all the players for making this event possible. I know this is a very old metaphor that I am going to use here, but after carrying this baby for 408 days, it’s thrilling to give birth to it today! The joy I have is the same as when all my 3 children were born. However, my duty doesn’t end here. This is just the beginning of a long road to nurture and grow Chess.
This journey would not have been successful without the help of many. I like to take this opportunity to thank our family and friends on behalf of MC. We are grateful to the many volunteers as well – Eric, Janey, Julie, Ricky, Neil, Alex, Pandora, Stephen, Alfredo, Jared and Sandip just to name a few. Your contribution is invaluable to us. Finally, we are very grateful for the chess players who believed in us and who share the same vision that we have.
On a personal note, I like to express my sincerest appreciation to Maurice for sharing his dream with me. As an “outsider” to the Chess world, I was inspired by a vision to elevate this intriguing game to a whole new level. In short: to revolutionize the average person’s perception of Chess and to give it the recognition that the game deserves.
Please allow me to take this opportunity to pay tribute to 2 people who have been most important to my upbringing: my mom Lana Wong and my uncle Andy Wong. I don’t plan to give my life story here, but I just want to mention that my mom has always taught us by her example of “don’t settle for less”.
As for Uncle Andy, he was the light in my darkest day when I was young. He was the person who told me how important it is to have a goal and to treat that goal as a light from far away. He told me to stay focused until I reach that light. Up until this day, I still live by his words to focus on what I need to do to achieve my goals.
And that’s why people often tell me they had never met anyone like me with such “tunnel vision”. I am speechless when it comes to expressing my gratitude to their love and support. I love you both very much!
Honestly, I am amazed that the closer we got to this date, the more I became passionate about chess. And the more I realized that chess deserves to be put on a more prominent pedestal. I hope each of you will continue to be part of this history making journey.
And so, distinguished guests and beloved friends, I welcome you to the opening of MC #1. Today, as we gather here, we are changing history and each one of you will write a page on this chapter of international chess. Thank you.