How Much Money Do World Chess Champions Make?
Have you ever wondered how much money do world chess champions make?

How Much Money Do World Chess Champions Make?

pete
pete
Nov 3, 2014, 12:00 AM |
94 | Fun & Trivia

Today, the very top chess players in the world can make good livings from the game.

Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand, who will play this month’s world chess championship in Russia, made more than $1 million each of the past two years from chess winnings alone.

The other top grandmasters in the world do pretty well, too.

Fabiano Caruana, Veselin Topalov, Levon Aronian, Alexander Grischuk, Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Sergey Karjakin, Hikaru Nakamura, Boris Gelfand, and Wesley So can earn up to half a million dollars in tournament winnings each year.

The money in chess has always been concentrated at the top. Throughout the history of competitive chess, the prizes for winning the world championship have dwarfed the earnings from other tournaments.

It remains true today. While Fabiano Caruana won $100,000 in September by winning the 2014 Sinquefield Cup — the strongest chess tournament in human history — the loser of the upcoming world championship match will make five times as much money, even if he doesn’t score a single point.

The world championship has always been king in chess, and its winners have been compensated accordingly.

Here’s a look at the growth of selected world chess championship prize purses throughout history.

1886, Steinitz-Zukertort: £800

Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900)

The prize fund was split evenly. Steinitz won the match +10 -5 =5.

1891, Steinitz-Gunsberg: $3,000

Steinitiz vs Gunsberg in the 1891 match. 

Steinitz won the match +6 -4 =9 and took home a $2,000 winner’s share.

1921, Capablanca-Lasker: $25,000

Capablanca vs Lasker 1925

Capablanca vs Lasker in Moscow,1925

Capablanca won the match +4 -0 =10, but only received $12,000 in prize money. Lasker got the other $13,000.

1927, Alekhine-Capablanca: $10,000

Alexander Alekhine, arbiter Dr. Carlos Augusto Querencio and José Raúl Capablanca during World Chess Championship in Buenos Aires, 1927

Alekhine won the match +6 -3 =25, but Capablanca received a $2,000 appearance fee.

1935, Euwe-Alekhine: $10,000

Euwe, after one of the games from the 1935 Alekhine-Euwe match.

Euwe won the match +9 -8 =13 and the $10,000 stake.

1966, Petrosian-Spassky: $2,000

Tigran Petrosian

Tigran Petrosian

In this era of Soviet dominance, the world chess championship was an internal affair. Petrosian received just a $2,000 bonus for winning the match

1972, Fischer-Spassky: $250,000

Bobby Fischer vs Spassky in the 1972 World Chess Championship match. | Image from nsarchive

Bobby Fischer brought unprecedented interest and money to the world chess championship. In addition to the gigantic purse, Fischer demanded — and received — 30 percent of the match’s television rights and gate.

Fischer, of course, won the match +7 -3 =11 and the winner's share of $156,250.

1978, Karpov-Korchnoi: $560,000

Korchnoi vs Karpov in the 1978 World Chess Championship. 

Karpov took home $350,000 for winning the match +6 -5 =21.

1990, Kasparov-Karpov: $3 million

Garry Kasparov

Kasparov won the monster $1.875 million winner’s share by going +4 -3 =17 in the match. 

1995, Kasparov-Anand: $1.5 million

Vishy Anand

Vishy Anand. 

Kasparov took home a cool million for beating Anand +4 -1 =13 at the top of the world. 

2000, Kasparov-Kramnik: $2 million

Kramnik vs Kasparov in the 2000 World Chess Championship. | Via Kramnik.com

Kramnik shocked Kasparov and the world and won $1.33 million for his +2 -0 =13 performance.

2006, Kramnik-Topalov: $1 million

Kramnik vs Topalov in the 2006 World Chess Championship. | Image via Kramnik.com

The prize fund was arranged to be split evenly at $500,000 each regardless of result, and appropriately enough, Kramnik won the match on tiebreaks. 

2008, Anand-Kramnik: €1.5 million ($1.9 million)

Vishy Anand vs Vladimir Kramnik in the 2008 World Chess Championship match. | Image via Wikipedia

Anand claimed the title by going +3 -1 =7, but each player took home the same $950,000 share

2010, Anand-Topalov: €2 million ($2.8 million)

Topalov vs Anand in the 2010 World Chess Championship match. | Image via Blogspot

Anand defended his title, going +3 -2 =7, and won the $1.68 million champion’s share.

2012, Anand-Gelfand: $2.55 million

Boris Gelfand vs Vishy Anand in the 2012 World Chess Championship match. 

Anand won the match on tiebreaks, receiving $1.53 million. He also was granted a $400,000 bonus from the Indian government.

2013, Carlsen-Anand: $2.5 million

Vishy Anand vs Magnus Carlsen

Vishy Anand vs. Magnus Carlsen in the 5th game of the 2013 World Chess Championship match.

Carlsen won the title and $1.5 million by going +3 -0 =7.

2014, Carlsen-Anand: €1 million ($1.25 million)

Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand

Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand in the first game.

The winner of the match will receive $750,000, and the loser will take home $500,000.

Let us know what you think of the world championship prize funds in the comments.

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