In 2018, 32 major international tournaments were held with a combined prize fund of €4,865,066. There were 246 tournament days in total. Magnus Carlsen, world’s number 1, was the top earner in 2018, his accumulative winnings totaled €745,211. Fabiano Caruana was in close second place with €719,476. Majority of the winnings came from the 2018 World Championship Match. Third top earner was Azeri player Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and his winnings were only one third of Fabiano’s — €225,024.
World Chess compiled annual statistics on the financial state of chess. It gives a bird-eye view on the sport, its top players and financial considerations. This data will be converted into a chess index and from now on will be published annually.
The data did not account for appearance fees and sponsorship revenue as players do not disclose it on regular basis. Read about the report’s methodology below and contact us if you would like to propose corrections or find mistakes.
Total Prize Fund for 2018: Total prize money from all major chess events in 2018
Biggest Prize Fund in 2018: World Chess Championship Match
Total number of top-level tournaments day in 2018
Magnus Carlsen was the top male earner in chess 2018. He collected at least €745,211 in prizes.
This amount does not include appearance fees and special arrangements with organizers who sometimes pay guaranteed prizes to top-rated players for coming to their events.
Wenjun Ju, the current women’s world champion, was the highest female earner in chess with €194,238 in prizes.
How Much Money Did Top Chess Players Earned in Prizes? (Hint: Not Much, Actually)
Unless you are a World Champion or a player who succeeded in winning a Candidates Tournament (a large cash prize on its own and also a guaranteed place in a Championship Match), you are unlikely to earn more than €200,000 per year. This might sound like a lot, but top chess players must also invest to remain in the upper echelon: coaches, training camps, seconds, physical therapists, fitness instructors, and more. Professional chess is a money race as much as a chess talent contest.
|Player||Winnings in 2018 (Euro)|
|Quang Liem Le||9,574|
Average Prize in 2018 for a top-50 player (both men and women) was €29,323
How Big Are Prizes in Major Events?
In 2018, FIDE was the largest organizer, having organized (in cooperation with World Chess, the operator of this website, or by itself) the World Chess Championship Match, The Candidates, Rapid and Blitz, and Women’s World Championship.
European Chess Union is also one of the biggest organizers: it organized European Rapid and Blitz Championship, Club Cup, Individual Chess Championships for Men and Women and more top events. Other major organizers — Grand Chess Tour and Tata Steel.
|Event||Prize Fund (Euro)||Number of players|
|Championship match 2018||1,000,000||2|
|Open Rapid Championship||300,000||204|
|Open Blitz Championship||300,000||204|
|Women’s Championship Match||200,000||2|
|Chess Olympiad 2018||328|
|European Blitz Championship||12,050||311|
|European Rapid Championship||21.950||395|
|European Club Cup||22,000||61|
|European Club Cup for Women||13,000||22|
|European Women’s Rapid||14,500||78|
|European Women’s Blitz||6,000||77|
|European Individual Women’s||65,000||72|
|Altibox Norway Chess Blitz||250,000||10|
|Altibox Norway Chess||121,000||10|
|Tata Steel Chess Tournament||8,600||11|
|Tata Steel Challengers||6,500||11|
|Gibraltar Open / Men||222,000||276|
|Gibraltar Open / Women||55,000|
|Aeroflot Open 2018||140,000||92|
|The Reykjavik Open||20,000||237|
|Tal Rapid Memorial||65,000||10|
|Tal Blitz Memorial||65,000||14|
|Shamkir Chess 2018||100,000||10|
|Biel International Chess Festival||32,600||6|
|London Chess Classic||260,000||4|
|Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz||130,205||10|
|Your Next Move||130,205||10|
World Chess Championship had the biggest cash prize in 2018. Combined with the Candidates Tournament and the Grand Prix Series it accounted for almost half of the total prizes that year.
Rapid and Blitz Championship, Altibox Norway Chess, Grand Chess Tour and Gibraltar offered substantial prize funds.
How did we make calculations?
We took all major tournaments organized by FIDE and top organizers where at least one of the top 50 players took part. We relied on prize fund data reported by the tournaments and contained in their regulations or reliable media reports. We took only official prize fund information and did not include appearance fees, which sometimes are paid to players in addition to prizes, so the actual players’ income from tournaments is likely to be bigger, especially for the top 10-players. We might have unintentionally failed to include some of the tournaments or did not provide a correct prize fund information. Kindly contact the report authors at email@example.com and we’ll review and adjust the data.
In 2019, the next edition of the ‘State of Chess’ will feature ‘Chess Index’ which will use 2018 as a base year. It will include indicators such as Combined Prize Fund, Number of Tournament Days, Average Earnings per Chess Player, Number of Tournaments and other indicators, which will give a useful overall indicator on the state of chess. All data sets will be open to media.
Data compiled by Ksenia Tutyushkina and Anastasia Ershova (World Chess).