State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

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Keith Arkell
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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by Keith Arkell » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:49 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:56 pm
My experience of low-level pros (the likes of Hebden, Arkell etc) is that they tend to be loss-averse when it comes to tournament chess, and you can get them far cheaper by putting money into a conditions fund than you can by putting it into a prize fund. If that dynamic repeats itself at higher levels, it's a very good explanation for apparently low prize funds.
You're kind of right, Jack, except that tournaments with good appearance fees and poor, or zero, prize money can be damaging to our Elo ratings, as we would be less motivated than the norm hunters we were up against ( and it is mostly 'norm tournaments' which distribute the funds that way).

As a more general point, I'll just copy and paste what I wrote on Davide Nastasio's post on his facebook wall, on this subject:

These figures are totally misleading to anyone glancing casually at them. Prize money is only a tiny fraction of the income of most GMs. To get a better idea, you can add appearance money, simul fees, team chess, books and articles, broadcasting, private sponsorship, coaching and a whole load of other stuff under the umbrella of 'creative endeavours'.

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JustinHorton
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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:55 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:15 pm
Matt Fletcher wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:13 pm
Out of interest, I had a quick go at trying to work out what Giri won (ie prize money alone) in 2018 based on his FIDE profile and a bit of Googling.

He actually wasn’t hugely active so the number’s a bit lower than I expected - but still about double what WorldChess have.
So Giri won 58,000 Euros in prize money, and is ranked number 4 in the world?

Last week, snooker's World Grand Prix featured the top 32 players in the world on the 1-year ranking list; i.e. the money won since the end of the World Championship last May. So there are still plenty of tournaments, the China Open and World Championship being particularly big money to go this season. The number 4 on that list, Mark Williams, had £201,000. A snooker player winning 58,000 Euros at the current exchange rate would only have been good enough in snooker to get into the World Grand Prix as the number 32 seed out of 32. And that doesn't include a number of non-ranking events, of which The Masters and Shanghai Masters had the most prize money available, in fact they are 3rd= in terms of the size of the winners prize - £200,000.

In darts, the current 4th place in the rankings on the 2-year Order of Merit is Gary Anderson, who won £568,250. So that's about £284,000 per season. And again, that doesn't include non-ranking events like the Premier League, The Masters, and the World Series of Darts events. 58,000 Euros is about £100,000 over two years. That'd be good enough for 45th in the PDC Order of Merit.

In golf, the PGA Tour #4 has won over $2,000,000 this season already, from five events, going back to last October after the Tour Championship. 58,000 Euros, in dollars, would be good enough or 176th on the PGA Tour Order of Merit. And the season is only a few months old, which most of the major events with the biggest prize money coming later in the summer.
Am I mistaken, or do these examples involve telling us who is fourth in the money list? If so then Giri is the wrong comparison, since he is presently the number four on the rating list. But the number four on the (very shonky) World Chess money list appears to be Mamedyarov.
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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by Alex Holowczak » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:01 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:38 pm
Alex Holowczak wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:15 pm
I think the general thrust of the World Chess article is worth thinking about; the chess player ranked 50 in the world will find it much harder to make a living than the equivalents in other sports.
....provided we consider other sports which are more popular than chess.
I mean on relative terms. If you take the % of prize money won by the number 50 in chess as opposed to the number 1, I suspect the similar % in darts and snooker would be higher. In other words, the prize money disproportionately goes to the very top in chess. The World Champion won $1m in 2018, I think? The drop off after that is very severe.

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JustinHorton
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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:03 pm

Keith Arkell wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:49 pm
These figures are totally misleading to anyone glancing casually at them. Prize money is only a tiny fraction of the income of most GMs. To get a better idea, you can add appearance money, simul fees, team chess, books and articles, broadcasting, private sponsorship, coaching and a whole load of other stuff under the umbrella of 'creative endeavours'.
While this has to be right in general, in might be fair to add that in many other sports there is income to be had from endorsements, image rights and so on. (Moreover while we tend to associate these with people at the top end, in the form of sponsorship they can extend down to quite a low and local level.)
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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by Alex Holowczak » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:05 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:55 pm
Am I mistaken, or do these examples involve telling us who is fourth in the money list? If so then Giri is the wrong comparison, since he is presently the number four on the rating list. But the number four on the (very shonky) World Chess money list appears to be Mamedyarov.
The article says "Third top earner was Azeri player Shakhriyar Mamedyarov", before then going on to list him in fourth in the table. :)

But you're right, that does change things.

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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:12 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:01 pm
JustinHorton wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:38 pm
Alex Holowczak wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:15 pm
I think the general thrust of the World Chess article is worth thinking about; the chess player ranked 50 in the world will find it much harder to make a living than the equivalents in other sports.
....provided we consider other sports which are more popular than chess.
I mean on relative terms. If you take the % of prize money won by the number 50 in chess as opposed to the number 1, I suspect the similar % in darts and snooker would be higher. In other words, the prize money disproportionately goes to the very top in chess. The World Champion won $1m in 2018, I think? The drop off after that is very severe.
Well that might be so, but we don't as yet have the figures to make that determination, and perhaps we would need them from a broader range of sports. (How does it work in archery? In fencing? Lawn bowls? Pelota? Croquet? Clay pigeon shooting?)

We might also, I guess, choose to make a comparison between different percentiles rather than rankings as such, or all kinds of other riffs on the stats. Is the number hundred chessplayer a good comparison with the hundredth-placed golfer, or judoka? I do not know.
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Alistair Campbell
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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by Alistair Campbell » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:24 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:12 pm
We might also, I guess, choose to make a comparison between different percentiles rather than rankings as such, or all kinds of other riffs on the stats. Is the number hundred chessplayer a good comparison with the hundredth-placed golfer, or judoka? I do not know.
Perhaps we need to know how many players each of those pastimes has? :twisted:

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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:30 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:12 pm
and perhaps we would need them from a broader range of sports.
You could add in those "sports" which qualify from a competitive viewpoint if not physical. So that's Bridge, Backgammon, Poker and more recently computer games. I'd imagine Poker is an outlier because the cost of participation for those who are "good" but not that good is so much higher and this skews the earnings of those who really are top players.

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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by NickFaulks » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:33 pm

Keith Arkell wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:49 pm
You're kind of right, Jack, except that tournaments with good appearance fees and poor, or zero, prize money can be damaging to our Elo ratings, as we would be less motivated than the norm hunters we were up against ( and it is mostly 'norm tournaments' which distribute the funds that way).
That may be a bit more truth than the world really needs.

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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by Keith Arkell » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:55 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:03 pm
Keith Arkell wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:49 pm
These figures are totally misleading to anyone glancing casually at them. Prize money is only a tiny fraction of the income of most GMs. To get a better idea, you can add appearance money, simul fees, team chess, books and articles, broadcasting, private sponsorship, coaching and a whole load of other stuff under the umbrella of 'creative endeavours'.
While this has to be right in general, in might be fair to add that in many other sports there is income to be had from endorsements, image rights and so on. (Moreover while we tend to associate these with people at the top end, in the form of sponsorship they can extend down to quite a low and local level.)
Fair enough. If this thread is about comparing how many zillions more the stars at the top of other competitive fields earn, it's worth bearing in mind that it would be all change if 10 million housewives ( in the age of 'political corectness' am I still allowed to use such a concept?) could watch chess on tv and have a clue what was going on, in the way that they can with snooker and darts, etc. With chess it takes months of indulgence in the game to have any idea at all about what you're watching, and so is less televisable, and so less attractive to sponsors looking to get a return from their investment.

However, if the thread is about how low down the rankings you can be in order to still earn a living mostly from playing the sport, then it may be that there are more outlets for chess players than there are for pros in other sports. I'm only speculating. I have no idea about sports other than my own.

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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:01 am

JustinHorton wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:12 pm
Alex Holowczak wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:01 pm
JustinHorton wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:38 pm

....provided we consider other sports which are more popular than chess.
I mean on relative terms. If you take the % of prize money won by the number 50 in chess as opposed to the number 1, I suspect the similar % in darts and snooker would be higher. In other words, the prize money disproportionately goes to the very top in chess. The World Champion won $1m in 2018, I think? The drop off after that is very severe.
Well that might be so, but we don't as yet have the figures to make that determination, and perhaps we would need them from a broader range of sports. (How does it work in archery? In fencing? Lawn bowls? Pelota? Croquet? Clay pigeon shooting?)

We might also, I guess, choose to make a comparison between different percentiles rather than rankings as such, or all kinds of other riffs on the stats. Is the number hundred chessplayer a good comparison with the hundredth-placed golfer, or judoka? I do not know.
I don't know either, but it's just a suspicion based on a reasonably broad knowledge of sports. That's quite a large amount of work though.

The reason I mentioned snooker and darts in particular is that the comparison is very easy to draw, since their World Rankings are based entirely on prize money won. The information isn't gathered as neatly for many other sports. However, lawn bowls, pelota and croquet are not entirely global sports. Lawn bowls and croquet are in general only Commonwealth sports at the top level. Pelota is in general a game only played by France, and Spanish-speaking countries. I know much less about shooting and archery.

I think chess punches above its weight in terms of prize money compared with spectator sports, but equally, I think that more of the money is in the form of donations rather than genuine commercial sponsorship.

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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by Ian Thompson » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:46 am

IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:56 pm
My experience of low-level pros is that they tend to be loss-averse when it comes to tournament chess.... If that dynamic repeats itself at higher levels...
The number of times you see players leading tournaments by half a point agree quick last round draws to guarantee themselves a modest prize would suggest they are. I don't think there's any doubt that a more profitable approach in the long run would be to play for a win every time, and accept that sometimes you'll leave with nothing/very little, but other times you'll leave with a lot.

Of course, if you've got bills to pay and little in the way of savings, I understand the temptation to go for the modest prize.

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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by JustinHorton » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:52 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:01 am
. However, lawn bowls, pelota and croquet are not entirely global sports.
Snooker and darts, however....
Ian Thompson wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:46 am
I don't think there's any doubt that a more profitable approach in the long run would be to play for a win every time
You say that, but if there really were no doubt, wouldn't we expect to see more people take that approach?
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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:58 pm

"I know much less about shooting and archery."

I suspect, as with Show Jumping, that the participants are fairly well off to do it, and maybe the prizes are not enormous. But that could be rubbish.

Archery world championship money for last year seemed to be 20000 Swiss Francs for the winner.


This old link may be of interest

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29665693

I note that the Marathon des Sables winner only gets £4000, but I guess all the entrants do it to prove a point!
Edit - (That doesn't sound right! They do it for a challenge obviously, and many get sponsorship for charity.)

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Re: State of Chess: How much money is in the sport?

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:13 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:52 am
Alex Holowczak wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:01 am
. However, lawn bowls, pelota and croquet are not entirely global sports.
Snooker and darts, however....
Snooker and darts are much more global than those sports.

There are an increasing number of ranking events in China, an event in India, and a number of ranking events in continental Europe - two in Germany this season.

But darts is even more global. There is a European Tour with 13 events, and regional tours in Asia, Australia, North America. At the Grand Slam of Darts last year, there were 0 English players in the Quarter Finals. Not including the UK, there are players from Netherlands, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Spain and Germany in the top 32 in the world. England lost to Spain in the World Cup of Darts a few years ago; could you see England beating Spain in the World Cup of Basque Pelota, if such a thing existed?

Neither are anywhere near tennis, but they're certainly not just the Anglosphere. They're more global than the three sports you mentioned.

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