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Chess Cash Kings 2012: Highest-Earning Chess Players in the World E-mail
Written by Peter Zhdanov   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 00:04

chess kingsAnnual money rankings are available for many reputable sports. For example, lists by Forbes (highest-earning tennis players; highest-paid NHL players, best-earning men in biathlon, etc.), or even an all-time poker money list. Unfortunately, this is not the case with chess, where financial data is scarce, and secretly handing out fees in envelopes is still a widespread practice.

In 2010 a column by Natalia Pogonina was dedicated to the possible sources of income of chess players and estimates of their earnings depending on skill. The idea of creating a live rating list of prize money winnings has been suggested by Peter Zhdanov in one of the articles previously published by ChessBase in 2012. The key message of the latter publication was that making the financial details publicly available is a crucial step towards transforming chess into a mainstream sport and making the game more popular. From theory to practice: this paper is a first attempt at creating a list featuring chess players who have made more prize money than anyone else in year 2012.

Introduction

A stereotypical chess player is a noble intellectual who is not interested in money. A common belief is that playing chess is not a profession; hence even grandmasters are expected to have “real jobs”. Is it true or not? Today we are publishing our own Chess Cash Kings-2012 rating – a list of chess players with the highest prize money winnings in 2012. 

Notably, there is a serious gap between the two players who played the World Chess Championship match (Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand) and everyone else. Non chess-related activities were not accounted for, so you won’t see Garry Kasparov or Anatoly Karpov on the list. It features only active top players whose primary income sources are chess-related.

The list has been compiled using public information sources, namely, the official websites of the tournaments and regulations of the events. The figures do not include endorsement deals and non-tournament chess earnings (book royalties, simultaneous exhibitions, coaching, scholarships, unofficial games, etc.). Hence, in some cases the real earnings of the players are considerably higher. Another confusing factor is taxes: some of the tournament organizers list the amounts after tax deduction, while others provide pre-tax figures. Additionally, a lot depends on the tax policies of different countries.

Most top tournaments conceal the amount of the prize money and the appearance fees. They prefer to negotiate the conditions personally with each player without informing the public about the details, thus saving funds and avoiding paying taxes. While common sense tells us that the chess community should be evolving towards financial transparency and legal payments, it is clear that the organizers and many of the players themselves will be reluctant to cooperate.

Of course, there are exceptions, but the average figure of the first prize at a super tournament is $50,000-$100,000. The appearance fees for players rated 2700+ are usually in the $10,000-$20,000 range. The very top stars can negotiate even better rates.

To make the list more representative, we tried to list the most important details even when the data is missing. Please don’t judge this article too strictly: as far as we know, it is the first attempt of this kind in the chess world:


Chess Cash Kings-2012 List sorted by estimates of prize money won:


#1 Viswanathan Anand, India, 43

FIDE rating in January 2012: 2799 FIDE rating in January 2013: 2772 (-27 points)

Prize money in 2012 (estimate): $2,000,000


Bundesliga: unknown

World Chess Championship Match, winner: $1,530,000

Award from Tamil Nadu government for winning the WCC: $400,000

Bilbao Chess Masters Final, 5th: unknown. In 2008 the prizes were the following: €150,000 for the first place, €70,000 for the second one, €60,000 for third, €50,000 for fourth, €40,000 for fifth and €30,000 for sixth. Prizes were reduced considerably in 2012 though.

London Chess Classic, 5th: $14,500 (information about best games prizes wasn't available)

Endorsements: NIIT, TVH, AMD (earnings unknown)


#2 Boris Gelfand, Israel, 44

FIDE rating in January 2012: 2739 FIDE rating in January 2013: 2740 (+1 point)

Prize money in 2012 (estimate): $1,100,000


World Chess Championship Match, runner-up: $1,020,000

Tata Steel Chess, 10th-12th out of 14: the main cash comes from appearance fees (unknown), while the official prizes were relatively modest (€ 10,000 for first place)

World Rapid Chess Championship, 6th: $14,000

World Blitz Chess Championship, 10th: $4,000

World Chess Olympiad: unknown

FIDE Grand Prix, London, 1st-3rd: $29,700

European Club Cup: unknown

FIDE Grand Prix, Tashkent, 10th: $11,900



#3 Magnus Carlsen, Norway, 22

FIDE rating in January 2012: 2835 FIDE rating in January 2013: 2861 (+26 points)

Prize money in 2012 (estimate): $480,000


Tata Steel Chess Tournament, 2nd-4th: unknown

Tal Memorial, 2nd in blitz, 1st in classical chess: $43,600 + appearance fee

World Rapid Chess Championship, 2nd: $33,000

World Blitz Chess Championship, 2nd: $33,000

Biel: appearance fee (unknown)

Bilbao Chess Masters Final, 1st: unknown

London Chess Classic, 1st: $72,600 (information about best games prizes wasn't available)

Gran Fiesta UNAM, 1st: unknown

Endorsements: Arctic Securities, SIMONSEN Advokatfirma, VG, G-star (past)

In 2010 Magnus Carlsen made over $1,500,000 and about $650,000 in 2009. Both figures refer to aggregate income, not only prize money.


#4 Levon Aronian, Armenia, 30

FIDE rating in January 2012: 2805 FIDE rating in January 2013: 2802 (-3 points)

Prize money in 2012 (estimate): $330,000


Tata Steel Chess Tournament, 1st: $13,200 + unknown appearance fee

Kramnik-Aronian match, tie: unknown

Tal Memorial, 5th in blitz, 7th in classical chess: $9,200 + appearance fee

World Chess Olympiad, team gold, individual gold: $50,000

Bilbao Chess Masters Final, 3rd: unknown

London Chess Classic, 6th: $14,500 (information about best games prizes wasn't available)

World Mind Sports Games, 4th in blitz, 1st in blindfold: $18,000


#5 Sergey Karjakin, Russia, 22

FIDE rating in January 2012: 2769 FIDE rating in January 2013: 2780 (+11 points)

Prize money in 2012 (estimate): $300,000


Tata Steel Chess Tournament, 8th: unknown

Russian Team Chess Championship: appearance fee (unknown)

Dortmund, 2nd: prize unknown

Region Blitz: $9,200

World Rapid Chess Championship, 1st: $40,000

World Blitz Chess Championship, 3rd: $27,500

Russian Superfinal, 2nd: $25,000

World Chess Olympiad, team silver, individual bronze: $25,000

Bilbao Chess Masters Final, 4th: unknown

FIDE Grand Prix, Tashkent, 1st-3rd: $29,700

World Mind Sports Games, 1st in blitz: $10,000

Piterenka rapid & blitz, 1st: 10 hundred square meters of land in Piterenka village

Endorsements: Alpari


#6 Fabiano Caruana, Italy, 20

FIDE rating in January 2012: 2736 FIDE rating in January 2013: 2781 (+45 points)

Prize money in 2012 (estimate): $290,000


Tata Steel Chess Tournament, 2nd-4th: unknown

44 CIS Serie Master: unknown

Sigeman, 1st: unknown

Tal Memorial, 10th in blitz, 2nd in classical chess: $26,800 + appearance fee

Greek Team Cup, Greek Team Championship: unknown

Dortmund, 1st: unknown

Region Blitz: $1,100

World Chess Olympiad: unknown

Bilbao Chess Masters Final, 2nd: unknown

King’s Tournament, 3rd: unknown

FIDE Grand Prix, Tashkent, 4th-6th: $19,800


#7 Hikaru Nakamura, USA, 25

FIDE rating in January 2012: 2759 FIDE rating in January 2013: 2769 (+10 points)

Prize money in 2012 (estimate): $275,000


Reggio Emilia, 4th: unknown

Tata Steel Chess Tournament, 6: unknown

Pacific Open, 1st: $3,000

44 CIS Serie Master: unknown

US Chess Championship, 1st: $40,000

Tal Memorial, 6th in blitz, 8th in classical chess:  $5,000 + appearance fee

Biel: appearance fee, unknown

World Chess Olympiad: unknown

FIDE Grand Prix, London, 12th: $9,200

European Club Cup: unknown

Unive Hoogeven, 1st: unknown

London Chess Classic, 3rd: $27,500 (information about best games prizes wasn't available)

World Mind Games, 2nd in rapid, 2nd in blitz, 2nd in blindfold: $30,000


#8 Vladimir Kramnik, Russia, 37

FIDE rating in January 2012: 2801 FIDE rating in January 2013: 2810 (+9 points)

Prize money in 2012 (estimate): $250,000


Tal Memorial, 4th in blitz, 4th in classical chess: $13,700 + appearance fee

Kramnik-Aronian match, tie: unknown

Dortmund, 4th: prize unknown

World Chess Olympiad, team silver: $25,000

London Chess Classic, 2nd: $39,000 (information about best games prizes wasn't available)

Endorsements: DGT, Blancpain (past?), also seen wearing a badge of some sort (?)


#9 Alexander Grischuk, Russia, 29

FIDE rating in January 2012: 2761 FIDE rating in January 2013: 2764 (+3 points)

Prize money in 2012 (estimate): $185,000


Tal Memorial, 4th in blitz, 7th in classical chess: $7,300 + appearance fee

World Rapid Chess Championship, 5th: $18,000

World Blitz Chess Championship, 1st: $40,000

Region Blitz: $5,300

Russian Superfinal, 7th: $5,000

Internet Grand Prix, semi-finalist: $3,300

World Chess Olympiad, team silver: $25,000

FIDE Grand Prix, London, 4th: $23,100

European Club Cup: unknown

World Mind Sports Games, 3rd in rapid, 7th in blitz: $14,000

Moscow handicap blitz, 1st: unknown


#10 Dmitry Andreikin, Russia, 22

FIDE rating in January 2012: 2688 FIDE rating in January 2013: 2727 (+39 points)

Prize money in 2012 (estimate): $150,000


Moscow Open, 15th-31st: a few hundred $

Aeroflot Open, 4th-8th: $3,500

European Chess Championship, 4th: $9,200

Russian Team Chess Championship: appearance fee (unknown)

Team Championship of Macedonia: appearance fee (unknown)

Donskoi Rapid, 1: $2,000

Region Blitz: $1,100

World Blitz Chess Championship, 5th: $18,000

Kazakhstan-Open: $3,500

Russian Top League, 1st: $16,500

Russian Superfinal, 1st: $33,000

Internet Grand Prix, 1st: $6,600

European Club Cup: unknown

Nepomniatchi-Andreikin match, winner: unknown

MGSU Cup, 1st: $3,300

Sberbank Cup, 7th-9th: about $900

Russian Rapid Chess Final, 5th-8th: $2,300


Methodology

Information about the prizes was obtained from open sources. All the money fees were converted to US dollars using the appropriate exchange rates. In the cases where the information was lacking, estimates were made by contacting a few 2700+ players and interviewing them. While the abovementioned list is supposed to convey a reasonably accurate picture of the earnings of the top players, it is by no means a precise financial report. We would appreciate feedback from players and their managers in order to improve the article.

Written by:

Peter Zhdanov is an IT project manager, expert and author of two books on parliamentary debate, BSc in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science and a PhD student in Sociology. In chess he is a Russian candidate master, author, manager of grandmaster Natalia Pogonina and editor of Pogonina.com

Original article can be found here

Images of the players are (C) ChessBase.com

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 00:43
 

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