How has your life changed since you won one of the major prizes in the MCO?:
The financial aspect has obviously helped a lot. I invested a lot of time and training, hired a GM, traveled all the way to Russia for a 10 day training camp with him 2 weeks before the start of the tournament. Winning $20k helped re-coup all the costs. Respect! I gained praise and respect from family, friends and fellow club players. I went to a local tournament at the Seattle Chess Club to watch some games, and I had NM's approach me and tell me they recognized me and congratulated me on my success. I had higher rated players wanting to play me just to see how good I really was. A lot of players asking me questions about the tournament the experience of it all. After meeting me and talking to me the MC tournament became a lot closer to them, it was no longer a mythical high prize tournament in Las Vegas, it was now a tournament that a local Seattle club player achieved success in and has given hope to them that they can achieve the same success. Many players have personally told me they will play in the next MC Open. On a personal note, I was always an amateur player, a club player that never really invested time into studying chess. THE MC OPEN was the catalyst that I needed to revive my engine! I began to study chess like a chess player should, I became a better chess player because of MC. Thank you for that.
How do your friends and family feel about you winning?:
Everyone from my family members and friends were skeptics. They all thought that I would could not possibly win anything. My dad personally told me after the tournament that the whole time he was just hoping that I would re-coup the finances I invested. It's not so much that they doubted my chess skills, they all thought that with prize money this high, there would be cheaters at the tournament, or really clever sandbaggers. Needless the say they were all in disbelief when I made the final table and were all too happy with me winning 2nd place.
Why did you decide to play in MC#1?:
I remember reading Maurice's message that it's up to us chess players to take chess to the next level. If poker players can do it so could we. I completely agreed with the message but I hesitated to join, in the front of my mind I was thinking, "yes chess players need to step it up, and I'll let someone else do it." But after a day of thinking I asked myself, why couldn't I be one of the first to make that change? I obviously wanted the change to happen, I wanted players on the lower rating scale to earn money from chess, but if I myself am not willing to invest in this dream why would I want it to happen? So I took the plunge with confidence and I signed up, and I coincidentally happened to be one of the first 76 to do so.
What did you most like about MC#1?:
The most I liked about MC chess is the feel of it all. It was the first tournament I've been to where I felt like a high level chess personality. Playing in a famous hotel, surrounded by famous chess personality, and an elite playing environment.
What would you like to see different next year?:
There are obviously things I would suggest MC would change, here are some suggestions. Maybe change the rating sections, rotate them, either increase or decrease them, vary them from year to year but don't have the same rating categories year after year. Don't let the security personnel relax. From the first day to the last day we were all playing for high prizes, and cheating became more and more appealing. I'm sure at one point I could have easily snuck in a mobile phone with shredder on it and used it. Security needs to always be tight. Have some sort of snack stand on the side. Playing for five hours without being allowed to leave to get food is rough. Would love to have seen a snack stand with snacks for sale and coffee. Eating at the playing table should still be dis-allowed, but eating on the side away from the playing tables should be allowed. Minimize your overhead costs. Playing at a Las Vegas casino was fun and exciting, and I agree for the first tournament it was the right decision. But for the next one, you can find a similar location in a nice 5 star hotel that has an amazing venue for fraction of the cost I'm sure. This is my most important suggestion:Interview the first place winners from all the sections and not just from the open. Remember who your targeted audience is. Your targeted audience is not a titled player, because non-titled players will always outnumber titled players at your tournament. Out of 560 registrants, you had 34 GM's and 87 titled players over all. That translates to GM's composing 6% of all the players and the titled players composing 15% of all the players. 85% of players at the MC OPEN were non-titled players, and guess what?! chess players identify closer to other players of their playing strenghts. I would love to have heard how a 1600 and an 1800 player prepared for this tournament, and how they feel. GM's are used to winning high prize funds, it's expected of them, but your tournament is the first in history where an U1600 player won $40 thousand!!!! That guy just made history and there is not a single word from him after the tournament. Very disappointing. Wasn't this your message in the beggining? Where else can a 1487 rated player win $40 thousand dollars? No where but at the MC OPEN. Next year it's not Wesley So that will attract 1500 players rated under 2000 to play at your tournament, it's the winners of the undersections that will.
Will you attend MC#2 again next year?:
I will most definetely attend the MC OPEN tournemnt next year. I'm ready to sign up today! If you have anymore questions for me please feel free to ask. Amy you have my number and my skype info, don't hesitate to ask. If you also need help in distributing promotion info, I can do so in the Seattle are at the local chess tournaments, after all I'm part of history now as I am one of the winners! :)