As It Happens

Can grandmaster Maurice Ashley turn chess into a glitzy, Las Vegas-style spectator sport?

A glitzy Las Vegas casino, a million dollars on the line and viewers watching around the world. The game? Chess. Well, that's the vision of a group of investors who are planning to turn the Game of Kings into the next World Series of Poker. Maurice Ashley, event partner and also the first African American chess grandmaster, is bringing chess...

A glitzy Las Vegas casino, a million dollars on the line and viewers watching around the world. The game? Chess. Well, that's the vision of a group of investors who are planning to turn the Game of Kings into the next World Series of Poker. Maurice Ashley, event partner and also the first African American chess grandmaster, is bringing chess to Vegas next month.

"Chess is a very exciting game, it's been around for 1500 years for a reason," Ashley tells Carol.

"Chess is in the mind of the players, and so it's kind of difficult when you're watching a chess game to understand exactly what's going on. The intrigue, the drama, the psychological tension. It's up to the commentators to bring that out."

Chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley is also an experienced chess commentator. (Photo: Courtesy of Maurice Ashley)

Already the event has 27 grandmasters signed up, with more than 500 competitors in total from 39 countries.

"It's two armies facing off against each other," exclaims Ashley. "The two generals at the board -- the grandmasters -- who know exactly what's going on. We just want to get inside the minds of the grandmasters so that tension and that flavour of the game can come out."

In terms of prize money, the Millionaire Chess Open is the highest-stakes chess event ever. It's an expensive event, and one that's unlikely to earn a profit the first time around.

"Right now we're about a million in the hole," Ashley says. "We've put together a chess event like no other. It's gonna be spectacular. We've got limousines picking up the grandmasters from the airport, we've got hostesses in the playing hall... we want to make sure the first one is right."

The Millionaire Chess Open takes place at Las Vegas' Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on October 9-13, 2014.

What do you think? If done right, could chess be the next big spectator sport? (Photo: Liz West/Flickr)

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