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For over a century, the World Championship has been the most prestigious match in the chess world. Unsurprisingly, those who participate in this spectacle are handsomely rewarded as fans from every country watch the world’s best players vie for the most coveted title in chess. However, the multimillion dollar stakes today are a far cry from the humble origins of the WCC. The burgeoning purse of the WCC reflects not only the surge of interest in chess as a sport, but also the development of chess as an economic institution.submitted by Polytroposphere to chess [link] [comments]
WCC prize funds adjusted for inflation. Matches without financial data are excluded
The Beginnings of the WCC (1886 - 1948)
As many are aware, early WCC matches were independently negotiated between participants. This meant that the responsibility of organizing the prize money fell on the players themselves, and there were several different ways that players would go about raising the necessary funds. Some players, such as Janowski, were able to find wealthy patrons to sponsor them. Others, such as Lasker, were able to crowdfund money from passionate amateurs. While large-scale, state-sponsored chess programs had not yet begun, players like Bogoljubov were also able to get government ministries to partially cover their expenses. The large stakes associated with the WCC were not easy to raise, and several negotiations fell apart after the players disagreed on the financial aspects of the match. The prize funds during this era ranged from $30,000 to $400,000 (2021 USD).
However, the matches were more lucrative than the graph would suggest, especially for the World Champion. Players who held the title also held enormous leverage over negotiations, and as such, they would often demand large fees simply for playing. In his 1908 match against Tarrasch, Lasker demanded an appearance fee of 7,500 marks, which was more than the prize fund of 6,500 marks. It was also customary for organizers to cover the cost of travel and lodging for both players. Lastly, both players often received a cut of the ticket sales from spectators, which makes it difficult to accurately assess the value of the WCC.
It was Capablanca who would make the first attempts to establish formal procedures for the WCC. While playing in the 1922 London tournament, Capablanca created a list of conditions for future WCC matches that all the top players agreed to abide by, known as the London Rules. One key clause of the document was that the World Champion would not be compelled to defend his title for less than $10,000 (the equivalent of over $164,000 today). However, money remained a barrier to WCC matches and Alekhine would sometimes agree to play for much less than $10,000.
The Soviet Years (1948-1972)
Since Alekhine died while still World Champion, a tournament was organized in which Botvinnik was then given the title. The 1948 WCC and the ascent of Botvinnik marked the beginning of Soviet dominance of the sport. With the financial backing of the state, Soviet chess players were able to play while the Soviet government covered their training and travel expenses. The top players enjoyed comfortable lives—Petrosian and Botvinnik were known to have nice apartments and even their own summer homes.
Despite massive interest in chess from the Soviet public and the heavy influence of Soviet officials, the prize funds during this period reached an unprecedented low. Since all the WCC matches during this period were between Soviet players that were already being sponsored by the government, prize funds were non-existent. Instead, players were given small bonuses or gifts for winning the title. In 1969, Spassky was awarded a little more than $10,000 (2021 USD) for dethroning Petrosian. Mikhail Tal was awarded a Volga car, which he promptly gave away because he didn’t drive.
The Beginning of Big Money (1972 - 1993)
Many credit Fischer for bringing large amounts of money into chess and making the sport a livable profession. And rightfully so. As the graph indicates, the 1972 WCC represents an enormous spike in the prize fund, a reflection of the political intrigue and global interest surrounding the match. While the initial prize fund of $125,000 was an enormous sum by all measures, Fischer’s constant demands for more money resulted in the prize fund doubling to $250,000. Adjusted for 2021 USD, this was the first match with a prize fund worth over $1 million.
The 1972 match set in motion a trend in which the prize fund climbed ever higher. This culminated in the 1990 Kasparov-Karpov match—the fifth and final match between the two rivals—which saw FIDE raise a prize fund of $3 million, the largest ever in WCC history (second-highest if one counts the $5 million 1992 Fischer-Spassky rematch). Even today, no WCC has come anywhere close to the nominal value of the 1990 match. Ironically, neither Kasparov nor Karpov received the vast majority of their winnings during this period as most of it was claimed by the state. In 1987, for instance, roughly 90% of the 2,280,000 CHF prize fund went to the Soviet Sports Committee.
The Modern Era (1993 - present)
By 1993, tensions between Kasparov and FIDE had come to a head. The World Champion and his challenger, the young Nigel Short, broke away from FIDE and ran their own WCC under the auspices of the Professional Chess Association. However, without FIDE to raise a prize fund, the burden of establishing a purse was once again placed on the players.
The match, whose prize fund was ultimately raised by The Times and Teleworld Holding, marks the beginning of corporate sponsorship in chess. By the 1990s, the Kasparov-Karpov matches had garnered enormous media attention around the world, and companies were eager to tap into this global interest to advertise their brand. In addition to sponsoring chess players and hosting exhibitions, companies began pitching in to fund Kasparov’s breakaway title. Intel stepped in to cover the $1.5 million purse and organization expenses of Kasparov’s 1995 match with Anand, while the company Braingames was founded to raise money for the 2000 Kasparov-Kramnik match. Today, as the logos of Coinbase and PhosAgro grace the playing hall of the Dubai Exhibition Center, corporate involvement remains as important as ever for financing the WCC.
In recent years, the prize fund has fluctuated between €1-2 million. The most lucrative WCC in the past two decades was the 2012 Anand-Gelfand match, whose $2.55 million purse was sponsored by Andrei Filatov, a Russian billionaire and friend of Gelfand. Compared to the figures from the Kasparov-Karpov years, the current purse of €2 million is a relatively modest amount, and the graph suggests that the prize fund has been on a downtrend in recent years. However, the graph does not address other forms of financial compensation, namely the increase in corporate sponsorships and general increase in tournament prizes. As chess continues to enjoy an explosion in its fanbase, it will be interesting to see how the WCC prize fund will change in the coming years.
Special thanks to Historical Currency Converter for providing conversion rates for older currencies. The Big Book of World Chess Championships by André Schulz also provided valuable prize fund data in the absence of publicly available data. The table of data is attached below:
|submitted by cometweeb to IndiaSpeaks [link] [comments]|
The recent 136-move win of Carlsen against Nepomniachtchi in Game 6 of World Chess Championship 2021 had me wonder : do decisive games tend to be longer than draws ?submitted by Interesting_Test_814 to chess [link] [comments]
So I looked at all world championship matches (starting from Steinitz-Zukertort 1886, including only PCA championships during the split title period 1993-2006, and not including World championship tournaments in 1948 and 2007) for a total of 909 games.
And here are the conclusions :
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[index]