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What Are the Biggest (and Smallest) Chess Prizes Ever Won?

Get a check, in more ways than one.

gold king chess piece in front of silver chess pieces

When it comes to matters of the mind, no game can compare to the glory of chess.

On paper, the objective is rather simple: Place your opponent’s primary piece in a position where every move will lead to its capture. In reality, though, that’s way, way easier said than done. 

Factor in the pieces, the expanse of the 64 squares, the bloody sacrifices, the smug look on your opponent’s face, and chess becomes as strenuous as an arm wrestling contest.

So, it’s only fitting that the winners of chess tournaments be given…well, a king’s ransom. It’s tough enough to outwit one crafty fox, but to outlast a dozen or more of those? You earned it, champ.

(Oh, before you scoff at the “measly” prizes that folks won in the early 20th century—or earlier—take a moment to think about the impact of inflation. The $40 that Julius Finn bagged for winning the 1901 New York chess championship? That amounts to $1,394.40 today!)

To find out the biggest and smallest chess prizes ever won, check out the list below.

$3,650,000
Bobby Fischer, 1992
(Source)

$1,875,000
Garry Kasparov, 1990
(Source)

$1,680,000
Vishwanathan Anand, 2010
(Source)

$1,620,000
Viswanathan Anand, 2008
(Source)

$1,530,000
Vishwanathan Anand, 2012
(Source)

$1,500,000
Magnus Carlsen, 2013
(Source)

$1,330,000
Vladimir Kramnik, 2000
(Source)

$1,000,000
Garry Kasparov, 1995
(Source)

$950,000
Vishwanathan Anand, 2009
(Source)

$800,000
Vladimir Kramnik, 2002
(Source)

$500,000
Vladimir Kramnik, 2006
(Source)

$350,000
Anatoly Karpov, 1978
(Source)

$153,240
Bobby Fischer, 1972
(Source)

$100,000
Fabiano Caruana, 2014
(Source)

$100,000
Wesley So, 2014
(Source)

$100,000
Inventors of DEEP BLUE computer, 1997
(Source)

$100,000
Krunoslav Hulak, 1989
(Source)

$93,750
Boris Spassky, 1972
(Source)

$10,000
Inventors of DEEP THOUGHT, 1988
(Source)

$10,000
Max Euwe, 1935
(Source)

$10,000
Alexander Alekhine, 1927
(Source)

$8,000
Boris Gulko, 1994
(Source)

$7,500
Bobby Fischer, 1971
(Source)

$5,000
Mikhail Botvinnik, 1948
(Source)

$2,500
Bobby Fischer, 1966
(Source)

$2,000
Walter Browne, 1973
(Source)

$2,000
Tigran Petrosian, 1966
(Source)

$2,000
Wilhelm Steinitz, 1886
(Source)

$1,400
Boris Spassky, 1969
(Source)

$1,150
Wilhelm Steinitz, 1889
(Source)

$1,000
Charles Stanley, 1845
(Source)

$750
Bobby Fischer, 1962
(Source)

$750
Bobby Fischer, 1957
(Source)

$550
David Bronstein, 1948
(Source)

$500
Frank Marshall, 1909
(Source)

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$300
Paul Morphy, 1857
(Source)

$290
George Mackenzie, 1871
(Source)

$100
Paul Morphy, 1857
(Source)

$40
Julius Finn, 1901
(Source)

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