How much can you make playing chess?
There are two ways to make money playing chess. you can either make money playing chess online or by playing over the board physically with an opponent. Several online chess platforms exist where players may generate income by participating in tournaments. and winning cash prizes. Although the prize pools for online tournaments are usually less profitable than over-the-board tournament prize pools.
In the summer of 2020, chess website Chess.com organized its first-ever cash prize tournament with a prize fund of $4,500. In October 2020, Chess.com announced a fantasy chess contest with over $5,000 in prizes.
These prizes are low compared to even the amateur tournaments. An example is the prize fund of the 2021 U.S. Open Chess Tournament which was $50,000. The prize funds are a lot higher in professional chess. It ranges from several thousand to millions of dollars.
The income potential of a chess player from playing chess alone solely depends on the tournament and the skills of the player.
In April 2020, Norwegian chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen cooperated with the chess website chess24.com to organize the Magnus Carlsen Invitational tournament. With a total prize fund of $250,000, this tournament was the richest online chess tournament at the time.
As of July 2021, professional-level online chess prize funds frequently reached hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example, the 2020 Speed Chess Championship hosted by Chess.com had a prize fund of $250,000 – $150,000 higher than its 2019 counterpart.
The 2020 Speed Chess Championship was a multi-event tournament, with the 16-player main event having a prize fund of $100,000. Eight of the sixteen players were invited to the championship directly, while the remaining eight were determined via a qualification system. The sixteen players in the Main Event included grandmasters Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura (the United States), Levon Aronian (Armenia), and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France).
These are the big prize funds of online tournaments, and of course, they are peanuts compared to the prize pool of Over-the-board tournaments or world championship matches.
The 2020 candidate tournament had a prize pool of €500,000 while the world championship match in 2021 had a prize pool of €2 million. Magnus Carlsen had 60 percent of that in his bag and of course, his opponent Ian Nepomniatchi, even though he was outclassed by Magnus went home with €800,000.
The Chess World Cup is another big-money chess tournament with a total prize fund of $1,892,500. The 2021 Chess world cup was won by the Polish GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who won without losing any games either in classical chess or in the rapid tiebreakers.
Duda won Russian Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin in the final match of the world cup. Although, they both qualified for the Candidates Tournament 2022. Duda got a prize fund of $110,000 while Karjakin got $80,000. The rest of the final eight, except Ian Nepomniachtchi and Teimour Radjabov, qualified for the FIDE Grand Prix 2022.
FIDE Grand Prix is another top chess tournament. The last total prize Grand Prix tournament in 2019 had a total of prize fund $913,000. Alexander Grischuk claims the top stop in the 22 man knockout tournament, while Aleksandra Goryachkina top the female category. The female category had a total prize fund of $570,700
CHECK OUT: How To Play Speed Chess