Millionaire Open Downer

Last night I attended what turned out to be a reading at the library by the famous historian James McPherson, who writes about the War Between The States. He is the George Henry Davis ’86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University, and received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for “Battle Cry of Freedom”, his most famous book. The author is on a book tour touting his new book, “Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief.” During a phone call with the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who decided to take a well-earned, and much needed, day off to visit his ladyfriend, the Princess, I mentioned the author read from the book only, until taking a few questions. I was in hopes the author would explain why he decided to write the book and some of the things he learned while writing.

LM Brian McCarthy, up from Butler for the night and next day, was waiting to return me to the Fortress. The first thing Brian did upon entering was plug in his ‘puter and turn on the $,$$$,$$$ Open. He let me know the next game would begin in about a half hour, then went back to the car to bring his other things. I am of the same mind as another chess blogger, Dana Mackenzie, of “Dana blogs chess,” who wrote in his post, “Millionaire Chess Preview,” of October 3, 2014, “Oh yes, I should mention the quirky format of the tournament. The first seven rounds are a normal Swiss system. But then the top four players will qualify for a two-round knockout tournament on Monday. Each round of the knockout will consist of a pair of 25-minute games; followed by a pair of 15-minute games if they are tied; followed by a pair of 5-minute games if the match is still tied; followed by a single Armageddon game.

Anyone who’s read my blog in the past knows what I think of this idea. I think it stinks. Rapid chess is only somewhat like chess, blitz chess is even less like chess, and Armageddon is a completely different game entirely. This kind of playoff is like breaking a tie for the Pulitzer Prize with a spelling bee. For that reason I don’t care who wins. I only care who finishes in the top four.” (http://www.danamackenzie.com/blog/?p=3184)

Because the Big Mac was here I decided to check out the coverage. I had earlier attempted to access the live coverage a couple of times, but every time there was music and a count-down clock informing me the live coverage would begin in twenty minutes. Twenty minutes later there was a count-down clock informing me the live coverage would begin in twenty minutes. I gave up. This time it was live and the game was about to begin. And what a game it wasn’t…GM Ray Robson blundered a pawn in the opening, something most every chess player has done. What made this so bad was that $50,000 was on the line. As poor Ray sat there stewing in his juices, not moving minute after long, torturous, minute, the commentators kept up their inane patter. Suddenly there was a shot of IM Ron Burnett playing FM Kazim Gulamali! I burst out of my room to tell the McAroon, who immediately found the live coverage, but there was no longer any Burnett vs Gulamali coverage. At least we knew our friend was playing on “Millionaire Monday.” I mentioned Lawrence Trent, “The New Voice of Chess”, according to his website (http://www.lawrencetrent.com/), said something about $40,000 on the line, with Kazim needing to win to send it to even quicker games, and “with the look on Ron’s face, it looks like that’s just what’s going to happen.” Having known both players since they were youths, and having been on the road with IM Burnett, while knowing Kazim as he cut his teeth at the House of Pain, I told Brian my heart was with Ron, but my head said Kazim. Here it is the next afternoon and I still have no clue who won…And I am not the only one, because Tim asked me what I knew, and Brian searched, even going to ICC, but still no result could be found. Evidently, we are not the only ones, because Dana has written this on his blog today, “I tried to look up the winner of the Millionaire Open in Las Vegas this morning, and it wasn’t as easy as I expected to find out who won. When I went to chessbase.com, usually my first source, there was nothing about the playoffs. Next I went to the tournament page itself — but that page is a navigational disaster. There was no apparent way to find out who won the tournament!

Finally I had to resort to Google, which took me to Susan Polgar’s blog, which took me to the Chess24 website, which had an excellent article on the dramatic playoffs. The bottom line is that Wesley So, the Phillippine grandmaster who was the #1 seed in the tournament, beat Ray Robson. It was a lifetime achievement for both of them. So earns $100,000, the largest payday ever for a chess player in an open tournament. Robson wins $50,000, which is unbelievable, especially when you see how he earned it.” (http://www.danamackenzie.com/blog/)

We continued to watch, and listen, in hopes that after Robson’s blunder they would go back to showing Ron vs Kazim, or what looked like another game currently underway. But Noooooooooo…Minute after agonizing minute we had to suffer along with poor Ray. Needless to say, we felt his pain in the way people felt the pain of Joe Thiesman when his leg was broken on Monday Night Maimball, while O.J. Simpson added “color” to the telecast. A better example could be when the catcher, Jason Kendall, broke his ankle running to first base when his foot hit the bag awkardly, while he continued to run with his broken ankle flopping like a fish out of water. As poor Ray continued to flop they would still not move to one of the other games. Brian mentioned something about this being “real bad,” because “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” I said, “This is supposed to be the high point of the tournament but it has become a low ebb.”
“Yeah,” Brian said, “what a downer.”

Lawrence Taylor breaks Joe Theismann’s leg on MNF

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