In 1967 the International Association of Chess Journalists created the Chess Oscar, won in its inaugural year by Bent Larsen. The tradition continued until 1988, when Garry Kasparov won his fourth consecutive prize. In 1995 the Russian chess magazine 64 and its editor Alexander Roshal resurrected the award. Kasparov picked up where the Oscar had left off, winning in 95 and 96.
They poll as many chess writers as they can track down for their top ten selections and add up the votes. (First place votes are worth more than second place votes, etc.) This year Kasparov won his second in a row by taking the 2002 prize by a wide margin over Peter Leko. Viswanathan Anand took third place.
Garry Kasparov RUS 3802 Peter Leko HUN 2668 Viswanathan Anand IND 2453 Ruslan Ponomariov UKR 2145 Vladimir Kramnik RUS 1471 Eugeny Bareev RUS 1132 Veselin Topalov BUL 964 Judit Polgar HUN 771 Anatoly Karpov RUS 741
Since 1995 only Kasparov (5), Anand (2), and Kramnik (1) have won the award. The usual suspects enjoy considerable sentimental support, as evinced by Kramnik's fifth place in a year in which he played little and with little success when he did play. You might expect Bareev's win in Corus Wijk aan Zee and otherwise solid year to give him the edge there.
Kasparov dominated Linares, won the Moscow Grand Prix, and had a tremendous Olympiad performance for the Russian team. His poor rapid results in the Eurotel, the Russia vs the World match and against Karpov in New York didn't hurt him in the voting.
Leko played brilliantly in Dortmund, won the Dubai Grand Prix, and scored a 7/9 in the Borowski tournament, although it was behind the incredible 7.5/9 scored by Zvjaginsev.
Anand played almost exclusively in rapid events – and had a mediocre Linares – but his rapid play was so devastating that it could not be overlooked. He played well in Dubai, topped the star-studded field of the Prague Eurotel, beat Ponomariov in Mainz, won the FIDE World Cup, and rounded out the year by demolishing Karpov in the final of the Corsica Masters. No wonder Anand is on board for including rapid games in the rating formula!
You may have forgotten that although Ponomariov was the 2001 FIDE champion, he actually won the final match against Ivanchuk in January 2002. His second place in his first Linares was also a tremendous performance. Several mediocre results later in the year may have caused some to forget the early successes that had the world talking about "the Big Four" before it meant Leko!