You will recall that last month I had put up a story about our Ugandan brother Arthur Ssewanyi being at the centre of the Chess Universe when he attended the 2015 World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan. I should have been a bit more specific and said “at the centre of the Universe on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain”.
It is now very clear that the Iron Curtain is back with us with President Vladimir Putin and his annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Our own Gary Kasparov who is a sworn enemy of President Putin has also published a book “Winter is coming – Why Vladimir Putin & the Enemies of the Free World must be stopped”. I was of course surprised by President Putin’s actions and even more surprised by the feeble response by the West and the USA. This is what Hitler did to Austria and then you know the story………………. I have not had time to read Kasparov’s book.
This time the story is about another Ugandan brother – Harold Wanyama who was at the centre of the Chess Universe but this time on the Western side of the Iron Curtain. Harold was in the City of Lights or City of Sin – Las Vegas attending the 2ndedition of the Millionaire Chess.
|Of course you never know who you will meet in Las Vegas – Darth Vader or Ms Beautiful – Photo by David Llada|
|The City of Lights – photo by David Llada|
|City of Lights – Photo by David Llada|
Millionaire Chess as the name suggests is an open event for all GMs, IMs and wood-pushers like me and with a prize fund of USD 1 million. Yes you read correctly. One million US Dollars or approximately KES 100 million. With KES 100 million you could buy about 4 apartments in Westlands which you could rent for about KES 100,000 or USD 1,000 each per month. You could also place that on fixed deposit and earn approximately 15% or say KES 15,000,000 or KES 1,250,000 (USD 12,500) per month. That is kind of money that this one event has promised for the 2nd year in a row.
The entry fee is steep when compared to Kenyan events. Entry fee goes from USD 1,000 to USD 2,000. Compare this with Kenya where the most expensive event was USD 20. Before you complain about the cost then consider the following. One is like going to the Gor Mahia playing at City Stadium and the other is like going to watch Manchester United at Old Trafford. Of course you will see football at both stadiums but the question is which one would you go want to go to? Sorry to you Gor Mahia fans out there. I have used that club as an example as you GorMahia fans love to throw stones and damage property whenever you lose a game. This gives Kenya football a terrible name and chases away potential sponsors.
You might want to ask why I am getting all excited about this event that happens in Las Vegas while this blog is about Kenyan chess. Well it is very simple. Kasparov Chess Foundation is a great supporter of Kenyan Chess and they managed to convince Amy Lee and Maurice Ashley to hold a satellite Millionaire event in Nairobi, Lagos, Cape Town and in Jamaica. The story on the Millionaire Chess is covered on another page on this blog. That is how our brother Harold Wanyama landed in Las Vegas.
In the end it was Hikaru Nakamura who is the world No 2 player emerged as clear winner to take home a prize fund USD 100,000 after 4-5 days of chess which attracted a massive +600 players.
|Harold Wanyama of Uganda – winner of the Nairobi edition of Millionaire Chess in Las Vegas – Photo credit Daaim Shabaaz|
I of course did not go to Las Vegas even though my heart said that I should be there to bring you the photos of the events. I had to rely on my buddy whom I have not yet met – David Llada (http://www.davidllada.com/) and to Daaim Shabaaz of www.thechessdrum.net to bring us the photos from that event . Really there is so much to say about this kind of event with different sections and each with their own prize fund.
I might as well add that this event had some of the most beautiful chess players. Which other sports has such beautiful ladies playing in it? Only chess……………
|Carolina Blanco from Venezuela but now in USA. Photo credit David Llada. Sorry do not have her telephone number!|
|Mehrnaz from Iran but based in NY. Photo credit David Llada (sorry phone number)|
I will end here and bring you some photos to see the glamour of the event.
|One of the best photos from the event. Photo credit David Llada|
|Mala Lorne from Jamaica – winner of the Millionaire Satellite event (from David Llada)|
|GM Maurice Ashley, Adia Onyango & Daaim Shabaaz (photo Daaim Shabaaz)|
|Hikaru Nakamura feeling pleased (Photo by David Llada)|
I would suggest that you get ready for MC3 in 2016. This time I hope to be there.
For both Amy Lee and GM Maurice Ashley – “What you have done for chess is truly amazing and will resonate for a long time in the chess world”.
|My two heroes – GM Maurice Ashley & Amy Lee. Photo by David Llada|
|WGM Tania Sachdev (commentator) with David Llada. Hey I want that job. Photo from David Llada’s collection|