On April 12/14, while I was going through some MC-related posts, I came across a blog post written by Ashik Uzzaman.
To be frank, I was really moved by this piece. I want to thank Ashik for addressing the concerns of the skeptics on our behalf.
Actually, Ashik raised 9 points that he feels are the concerns of those who do not believe in MC or do not understand our objective. Below are my comments:
1. Too high registration fee – The registration fee is not only for entering the tournament, but also for the many benefits that do not exist at other events such as gift bags, VIP lounge, extra security, opening breakfast, 24-hour answering service, complimentary massages, extra TD staff, hostesses in the playing hall, red carpet photo shoot for all players, among others.
2. Cheaters will be coming to make some bucks – On top of our extra security and cameras capturing video in and around the playing area, we have a very powerful sandbagging rule in place. An already strict policy is being fine-tuned by International Arbiter, Franc Guadelupe and we are consulting with MIT’s Media Lab on other high-tech solutions.
3. MC is going to rip off money from chess players pocket without giving the proper return on it – If one million is not a proper return for the entry fee, then what is fair? Besides, our overall procedure is very transparent. So, from where does idea of “ripping off money from chess players pocket” come from?
4. Las Vegas is too far from my location; it should have been somewhere else – Any location will be too far for some people. Actually, given all things being equal and after careful thought, we could not think of a better venue than Las Vegas, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the whole world!
5. MC is making Chess Players too greedy. It hurts the love of the game of chess itself – Honestly, I do not see how we can make chess players greedy. There are thousands of chess tournaments to participate in around the world and chess players are smart enough to make their own choices. They are smart enough too to know if they are being short-changed. The potential of the game has been underplayed for many years, and now is the time to break the shackles and show the world its real potential. Deserving chess players should be given their chance to really shine. This is what we intend to do.
6. How come amateurs will make so much money? It’s the professionals who should deserve it – MC is an equal opportunity provider. One who plays to the best of his/her ability will win the tournament in his/her own section. Besides, all these years, the amateurs, being many in number, have been really putting up the prize money for the GMs with their entry fees. Now is the time to reward them for their years of dedication and support.
7. MC will never pay the full prize money – GM Maurice Ashley has been around the chess scene for over 30 years. His HB Global Chess Challenge that he ran in 2005 paid out $500,000 in prize immediately after the last round of the tournament. Certainly, he would not risk his entire career and reputation by being a part of something bogus.
8. MC is going to manipulate the chess rules in the long run. Anti-draw rule is just one example – If chess is ever going to become a major spectator sport, agreed on draws will have to be regulated. No serious fan wants to watch a 5-move game.
9. MC is going to make other chess organizers unstable and in the long run will monopolize the chess industry – It’s impossible for one company to monopolize the many markets and thousands of tournaments being run around the world. If MC has to have any influence on other major chess events, it will be by making chess organizers more competitive. Actually, the ideal thing to happen would be if other organizers found ways to raise their prize funds as well, which would only benefit chess players in the long run.
Once again, I would like to extend my appreciation to Ashik for taking the time (and the concern) to write the blog. This has been very motivating. Supporters like you drive me harder to push MC!
And to the others who are still thinking twice about us, I hope that I’ve cleared up your doubts.
18 thoughts on “To the MC skeptics – As mentioned by Ashik Uzzaman”
I fully support you Ashik in terms of the views expressed.
Yeah me too!
I think Amy is very clear on how these views got countered as well. The tournament will now be the talking point.
People find it difficult to adjust and get into the idea of a million dollar prize fund.
Thanks for your insight!
Amy, thank you so much for taking time and addressing all the points one by one. These points i got by recollecting my memory on following various posts about such a high stake event like Millionaire Chess. Your transparent point of view will help many chess players who are on the edge of decision making to join the event or not. Thank you so much! We, average chess players, want this event to be successful.
I appreciate the positive feedback. I try to be as transparent and honest with everything I do and I am glad this came through. See you in Vegas Ashik!
Hi Amy: First of all I just want to say great post by Ashik Uzzaman. Your answer to those 9 points is great. Although, I find out of the 9 only 1 to be a valid objection. Answering the other 8 is a testament to your patience. It also shows your dedication to Millionaire Chess.
Thanks for leaving me a comment. I always appreciate your feedbacks Steve.. 🙂
I am one of your skeptics because I believe that this tournament is aimed at affluent chess players, and I wonder if your target market is large enough to pay Millionaire Chess, LLC’s bills.
Irrespective of the hype that this will take chess to new levels, I don’t see that this tournament will do much for chess in my area (non-existent) where people are more concerned about paying their grocery bills than they are about the cost of playing in a chess tournament for the well-to-do.
Thanks for your concern Bob.
To your first point, our target market does not need to “pay our bills.” If they can more or less fund the tournament prizes and expenses, it is our responsibility to find other ways to monetize the brand that we have created. We think we will have a good chance to do so in a few years by attracting sponsors and broadcast partners to the event.
Secondly, while there are thousands of chess tournaments around the country that cater to all levels of affordability, there are very few events that can attract significant media attention and raise the profile of chess in the eyes of the average person who thinks chess is just a simple board game not worth supporting. We are hopeful that an event like MC will bring a new shine to chess that will make it easier for good folks like yourself in big and small communities around the country and the world to sell the idea of chess to potential sponsors to support your own initiatives. If our tournament can be a small piece of that bigger puzzle, then we will have been a huge success.
Thanks Amy and Ashley, two A’s must be good, for bring such a wonderful event to the chess world. Chess is a game of culture and insight; I appreciate your efforts and dedication to bringing chess on its proper position amongst sports.
Thanks for your feedback Glenn. Honestly, hearing people support our vision and the direction we’re heading is very helpful and reaffirms to me that I’ve made the right decision! Chess deserves to be brought to the front line for sure.
Amy, can you address some common concerns that parents have young chess players have regarding this tournament? We are unsure about the experience our young children will get from playing this high stakes tournament with a bunch of adults. So far, only a few scholastic players have signed up (or should I say only a few parents have signed up their kids). This is because very little marketing and information has been put out targeting scholastic players, even though they account for the majority of active USCF members. The only thing I find on the MC website is that it states that “the event is child friendly”. There are no details on how this will be child friendly. Can you please provide some specific examples on your website?
The first (and most important) issue is child safety. Is there a waiting area right outside the tournament hall where we can pick up our kid right after the games are done? In the K-1 section (age 7 and under) of the scholastic nationals, they have kids wear ID bracelets with parent contact info, for example, and the parents waiting area is right outside the playing hall. They also have chaperones to watch over the kids before they are picked up by the parent in a safe, waiting area. Please note that parents don’t always stay in the waiting area since they have no idea if their child’s game will last 5 minutes or more than an hour. When the child is done with their game and the parent is not there to pick them up, there are some potential safety issues that needs to be addressed. I suggest that your event adopt whatever child safety measures the scholastic national tournaments use, and perhaps even more so stringent since the scholastic nationals are tournaments with ONLY kids. In this tournament, they will be playing with mostly adults for high stakes, and the experience might not be “child friendly” unless the tournament organizers make a conscious effort to make it so.
The second issue is the overall playing and tournament experience. How will you make this fun for a kid? A gift bag is nice, but there needs to be a special kids version gift bag. The chair massage doesn’t seem appealing to a 7 year old (maybe if it could be used by the parent, but still, that doesn’t enhance the child’s tournament experience), and the pass to the VIP suite would only be useful if the parent can get a pass to go in with him/her. My suggestion is to have something that will be catered towards junior players like having a top instructor in the VIP suite go over one game with each kid that wants to have their games looked at? Picture ops with well-known grandmasters (such as GM Ashley) will be a nice experience for a kid, but there needs to be a section in the VIP suite for “Kids only” so the younger children will not be crowded and drowned out by all the adults that are in the same room wanting to talk to the VIPs and take photos with them.
The bottom line is, the cash prize alone isn’t going to draw in all the scholastic players to this event. As parents, we are more concerned with our child’s experience rather than his or her chances of walking home with 10k (although that would definitely be a huge plus!) There’s a scholastic event called the SuperNationals that takes place every 4 years, and last year, it drew more than 5000+ scholastic participants (it took place in Nashville). That means 5000 chess parents were willing pay a couple thousand dollars for airfare+hotel+registration (very few of the 5000 were from the Nashville area; most flew in from around the country) to go and let their kids have a wonderful chess experience for a weekend. And win or lose, most of them DID have a great experience!
More needs to be done to market MC to the scholastic crowd and more needs to be done to ensure the parents that this new and unknown event is in-fact TRULY 100% child friendly. The kids in scholastic chess are not only the biggest chunk of active USCF members, they are the future of chess in America! The fact that less than 10 kids have signed up should be a strong signal that you have not tried to reached out to them. I’m still on the fence about signing my kid up for this. I hope you can address the concerns of all the chess parents out there.
Thanks for your concerns.
First of all, we should note that the Millionaire Chess Open is not a scholastic tournament. It is an open tournament where children are allowed to play. This means that parents are 100% responsible for their child as they would be in any and all events they could normally play in with adults (The World Open, for example). We have not targeted the child market directly, and it is really up to the parent to choose to enter their child since it will be their responsibility manage their children’s needs at an extremely rigorous and competitive event that this will certainly be.
That said, we are child friendly because our entire staff will do their part to ensure that minors at our event are closely monitored while in the playing area and any other areas under our direct purview. Not only do we have an extensive tournament directing crew (ably led by International Arbiter Franc Guadelupe), we are also hiring a security firm to watch over all aspects of our event. We will also have strategically placed cameras watching over the tournament in case there are any improprieties. The concern for everyone’s safety, security and peace of mind is uppermost in our scale of values for our event.
We like your idea of having a special section for the kids in the VIP room. We’ll take that under consideration. The idea of a GM dedicated especially to children is a nice one though, as we said, this is actually an open tournament where we have to be fair to all our paying participants.
Again, thanks for all your concerns. While we are not targeting the youth market for this event, we will do our part to ensure the safety and well-being of any child whose parent chooses to register him/her. We will continue to consider ways to enhance the experience for the younger crowd as well. I appreciate the time you took to write these ideas.
Thanks Amy for your post. I am signed up and excited about the tournament!
I played in the HB Global Challenge in 2005, and it was an amazing experience. Like you said – these types of things are not just about the prize money. People go on vacations all the time without expecting a “return on investment” or trying to make a profit. This is the equivalent of a “chess vacation”.
The other thing for me personally, is that signing up for a chess tournament like this is very motivating. The best way to grow is to get outside of your comfort zone. Every day I know – I better work on my chess game, because I have a big tournament coming up!
I think that having it in Vegas is an ideal location. There are a ton of cheap flights to Vegas, and also a ton of direct flights.
Keep up the great work!
Thanks Tim, it’s so encouraging to receive such positive support. I am 100% confident you will find MC even more enjoyable than the HB tournament..after all it’s Vegas! I completely agree with you that with any activity, having a deadline to look forward to and prepare for is very motivating. I am deeply involved in making sure it’s going to be a fantastic event and I look forward to seeing you there!
Thanks Amy for your post. I am signed up and excited about the tournament! And thanks also for the VIP lifetime membership 🙂
I´am still the only player from Iceland to sign up but there are at least 4 other players from Iceland that will sign up also. Perhaps 10 other players.
Thanks Hermann. We’re excited to have you at our tournament. Iceland is one of Maurice’s favorite places in the world, so he will be thrilled if a team from Iceland will show up to the event. We hope you can make it happen… 🙂