Millionaire Chess 3: Jones, Swiercz, Cordova, and Zhou

by Albert Silver
10/10/2016 – The rounds five to seven were among the most intense, as they meant the cutoff for those who would get to see a big payday on Millionaire Monday, and those who would be left fighting the last two 'normal' rounds. After the dust settled in round seven, every section saw playoffs needed to choose the qualifiers. It wasn't just about the very top GMs in the Open section, as even players rated under 1200 will fight for thousands of dollars!

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All photos by David Llada

The last key three rounds saw as much drama as one would expect given the stakes. Truth be told, calling the rounds five to seven the ‘last’ ones, is slightly misleading, though not entirely. The reason is the structure of the overall event: after seven rounds, the top four players of each section will qualify for a special event, “Millionaire Monday” whether the Open, with its $30 thousand top prize, or the Under-1200 section with $4800 going to first.

These four players in each section will then fight a knockout phase with two semifinals followed by a final, to fight for the top prizes. However, that is not the end of the tournament for the other players. While Millionaire Monday will be fought by only those players, the sections they qualified from will play another two rounds for a total of nine. Players who missed out on the biggest payday will still not be denied a day of chess as they play for honor, cash, ratings, and norms. This is actually very well thought out since imagine you booked a hotel and flight for the full event, failed to make the cut, and found yourself twiddling your thumbs. That would have been immensely disappointing. Kudos once more to Maurice Ashley and Amy Lee for having planned so thoroughly.

Shimanov - Adhiban

The tournament was rife with tactics found and missed. Here Indian GM Adhiban seized his chance and won on the spot. Black to play and win.

30...Nxf4! 31. gxf4 Rxf4 32. Re2 Qe7 0-1


It is always a pleasure to see players not only try to outdo one another over the board, but also in the classiest appearance. If dressing were given an Elo, Glenn Umstead would be rated 2700.

Prince Eric Guipi Bopala shows there is no age to look dapper

Style is very much a matter of taste, but nothing a cool hat won't help

Alice Dong is rated 1953 and playing in the under 2200 section due to her 2153 USCF rating, plus the regulation that states a FIDE rating will have 60 added to seed in the appropriate section.

Alejandro Ramirez had a very tough game against US prodigy IM Awonder Liang. It shows.

Awonder Liang - Alejandro Ramirez

Swedish GM Pontus Carlsson

The conceiver of the Millionaire Chess event, GM Maurice Ashley

In the playoffs, only Gawain Jones (above) was the clear seed. He was not without good fortune as GM Chirila lost a drawn endgame on time, while Adhiban managed to commit seppuku over the board in a drawn endgame as well, but that is the nature of chess, and one can only strive to play one's best. Fortune favors the skilled.

US Junior GM Jeffery Xiong was one of the players fighting in the playoff, but the round-robin blitz event didn't work out, and he missed the cut. he will continue to play unitl round nine in the Open section.

Chinese GM Jianchao Zhou, rated 2630, on the other hand did make it. He played an excellent event, beating Sam Shankland in a fascinating endgame with a knight for three pawns that could have gone either way.

Jianchao Zhou - Sam Shankland

GM Emilio Cordova from Peru was another to make Millionaire Monday

Finally Polish GM Dariusz Swiercz was the fourth qualifier from the Open section

It wasn't only about the top Open section. Vanessa Sun (above) has every reason to be grinning ear-to-ear. In the playoff for the Millionaire Monday in the Under-1200 section, she was the one to survive. It means she is guaranteed at least a $900 prize if she comes in 4th place, and a hefty $4800 if she comes first.


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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