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The Biggest Chess Prizewinners In 2022 (And How Much They Made)

The Biggest Chess Prizewinners In 2022 (And How Much They Made)

NathanielGreen
| 281 | Chess Players

Today we bring you the players who won the most prize money in the major international chess events of 2022. Back in August, we revealed which chess players had won the most prize money throughout history for their performance in major matches and tournaments. As was the case then, here we are covering only performance prizes—that means no money earned from endorsements, appearance fees, residencies, etc. 

With that in mind, who do you think won the most prize money in major tournaments this year? GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, winner of the FIDE Candidates Tournament? Maybe GM Hikaru Nakamura, the FIDE Fischer Random world champion and winner of the FIDE Grand Prix and Speed Chess Championship? Or perhaps it was Sinquefield Cup and Grand Chess Tour (GCT) champion GM Alireza Firouzja? Maybe GM Wesley So, the Chess.com Global Chess Champion and second-place finisher in the Grand Chess Tour?

Hikaru Nakamura Ian Nepomniachtchi
Nakamura and Nepomniachtchi both won good money in 2022, but did one of them claim the most? Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Well, it was none of these players! And with that information, you can probably guess the #1 player by process of elimination.


Top Winners

The answer, of course, is GM Magnus Carlsen. Even with his last World Championship coming back in 2021, the winner of the Champions Chess Tour (CCT), Norway Chess, and both the World Rapid and Blitz Championships (WRBC) earned nearly $560,000 in major tournament prizes throughout 2022. It was the clean sweep of the WRBC in late December that catapulted Carlsen into first place for the year.

Magnus Carlsen
The end of 2022 saw Carlsen win the fourth Rapid Championship and sixth Blitz Championship of his career. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In doing so, he passed Wesley So at the last moment. So did not participate in the WRBC and could only watch as Carlsen earned $120,000 in a week to take the top spot. (That's $6.24 million if you could do it every week for a year.) So brought in just over $540,000 worth of prize money in 2022, which probably means he doesn't mind too much coming in second.

Wesley So
Wesley So's CGC victory lifted him to the year's #1 prize money position for a time. Photo: Eric Rosen/Chess.com.

Nakamura was the third player to cross the half-million threshold, ending the year with about $515,000 after tying for second at the World Blitz Championship. Nepomniachtchi ($430,000) and Firouzja ($360,000) rounded out the top five.

$100,000 Club

Here is every player who earned six figures in major tournament prizes throughout 2022, from the Grand Prix that started in February through the World Rapid and Blitz Championships at the end of December:

Player TOTAL Events
GM Magnus Carlsen $558,596 7
GM Wesley So $541,632 14
GM Hikaru Nakamura $515,795 10
GM Ian Nepomniachtchi $429,512 13
GM Alireza Firouzja $358,542 7
GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda $296,178 6
GM Fabiano Caruana $263,810 11
GM Levon Aronian $260,136 10
GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave $234,904 13
GM Anish Giri $213,061 9
GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov $201,834 10
GM Ding Liren $175,540 5
GM Richard Rapport $166,938 8
GM Le Quang Liem $134,500 3
GM Praggnanandhaa R $129,000 1
GM Nihal Sarin $118,802 4
GM Dmitry Andreikin $112,861 7
GM Vladimir Fedoseev $109,405 8
GM Leinier Dominguez $109,391 8
GM Tan Zhongyi $103,753 5

After making the finals of the 2022-23 Women's Candidates and winning the 2022 Women's Rapid Championship, in addition to playing in other major women's tournaments, GM Tan Zhongyi made the most of any woman chess player and reached six figures in the year as well.

Tan Zhongyi
2023 will see the Candidates Final between Tan and GM Lei Tingjie. Both players already secured $50,000 as a finalist, with another $10,000 to go to the winner. Photo: Timur Sattarov/FIDE.

Players made this list in various ways. For instance, GMs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Le Quang Liem, and Praggnanandhaa R did very well in the Champions Chess Tour. Players like GMs Ding Liren (Candidates), Richard Rapport (Grand Prix), and Nihal Sarin (CGC) did very well with one major prize, all of which came via second-place finishes. Of course, the very top players needed to do well across the board.

All-Time Update

What does the 2022 list mean for the all-time prize winners? Note first that the historical count went through the 2022 Candidates, meaning only the last five months of the year contributed to gains. Of course, Carlsen went on a tear in those last five months. All in all, Anand still leads Carlsen all-time, but not by much—less than $25,000:

Player 2022 Total Career Total
Anand $58,260 $9,462,010
Carlsen $558,596 $9,438,449

Very little has changed in the historical count, in fact, although it's a near-certainty that Carlsen will overtake Anand in 2023 even without playing in the world championship. The ranking top 10 remains the same, with Caruana and Nakamura staying ahead of Nepomniachtchi. The two players who crossed the all-time million-dollar threshold in 2022, Ding Liren and Anish Giri, were already there in August. 

Anand
Anand's appearances at Norway Chess and the Grand Chess Tour Warsaw were productive enough to keep him #1 for another calendar year. But Carlsen is fast approaching. Photo: Maria Emelinova/Chess.com.

While the players haven't changed, here is what the top 11 looks like entering 2023. Even after the top two, there will likely be some motion in the coming year near the bottom of the list as well.

Player All-Time 2022
GM Viswanathan Anand $9,462,010 $58,260
GM Magnus Carlsen $9,438,449 $558,596 
GM Garry Kasparov $7,947,979 $0
GM Anatoly Karpov $5,989,480 $0
GM Vladimir Kramnik $4,757,339 $10,000
GM Bobby Fischer $3,519,559 $0
GM Veselin Topalov $3,306,834 $29,486
GM Levon Aronian $2,781,947 $260,136
GM Hikaru Nakamura $2,619,814 $515,795
GM Fabiano Caruana $2,535,420 $263,810
GM Ian Nepomniachtchi $2,433,605 $429,512

Top Events of 2022

Players don't win that prize money out of nowhere, of course. Nearly $1,500,000 was awarded in the Champions Chess Tour, but the largest single tournament was the Chess.com Global Championship with its $1,000,000 prize fund. The FIDE Candidates Tournament, by comparison, had €500,000 in prizes, which was worth about $520,000 at the time the tournament concluded.

So's $200,000 prize at the CGC was anyone's single largest of the year, even though Carlsen won over $240,000 across all CCT events. (GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Praggnanandhaa, and Liem Le all won six figures across the entire CCT as well.) Also winning six figures in one tournament was Nakamura at the Fischer Random Championship, Nepomniachtchi at the Candidates, and even Nihal as the CGC runner-up. Firouzja won a six-figure bonus for winning the overall GCT.

Here were the winners of every major event in the tally for the year, along with their prize.

Tournament/Series Site Ended Winner Prize Note
CCT (all events) Chess24 Nov. 20 Carlsen $242,500
CGC Chess.com Nov. 7 So $200,000 largest single-tournament prize
Fischer Random Reykjavik Oct. 30 Nakamura $150,000
Candidates Madrid July 7 Nepomniachtchi $119,385 converted from Euros
GCT (full tour) Multiple Sep. 13 Firouzja $100,000 bonus for winning tour
Sinquefield Cup Saint Louis Sep. 13 Firouzja $92,500 includes $5,000 brilliancy prize
GCT Bucharest May 15 Vachier-Lagrave $77,667
RCC Season Chess.com Aug. 14 Nakamura $77,500
Norway Chess Stavanger June 11 Carlsen $77,280 converted from Norwegian krone
World Rapid Kazakhstan Dec. 28 Carlsen $60,000
World Blitz Kazakhstan Dec. 30 Carlsen $60,000
GCT R&B Warsaw May 24 Duda $40,000
GCT R&B Zagreb July 25 Carlsen $40,000
GCT R&B Saint Louis Aug. 30 Firouzja $40,000
SCC Chess.com Dec. 20 Nakamura $33,041
RCC Finals Chess.com Aug. 21 Nepomniachtchi $30,000
Grand Prix Berlin (1) Feb. 17 Nakamura $27,259 converted from Euros
Grand Prix Belgrade Mar. 14 Rapport $26,616 converted from Euros
Grand Prix Berlin (2) Apr. 4 So $26,326 converted from Euros

Conclusion

The year 2022 saw chess players win millions of dollars worth of prizes. With the Nepomniachtchi-Ding Liren World Championship and a merged CCT/CGC around the corner, what will 2023 bring?

Which 2022 prize stat surprised you most? Who will come out on top in 2023? Let us know in the comments what you think!

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