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Fischer vs FIDE, 1975
Fischer forfeits.

After defeating Spassky in 1972, Bobby Fischer stopped playing serious chess, turning down several lucrative offers to play in public.

Fischer, circa 1971 In 1974, Fischer's challenger was decided: he was an emerging Russian chess superstar, Anatoly Karpov, who had defeated Korchnoi in the candidate's final to earn him the right to challenge Fischer.

In September, 1973, Fred Cramer, Vice President (Zone 5) of FIDE, proposed that the world championship match be decided on 10 wins, draws not counting. He also proposed that the champion retains his title if it were a 9-9 tie. This became known as the Cramer proposal. Fischer telegrammed FIDE informing them that they should adopt the Cramer proposal.[1]

Opponents of the proposal argued that the unlimited format is impractical, and that the 9-9 rule affords the champion too great of an advantage. Proponents claimed that the proposal would encourage exciting chess (because draws do not count) and that it more accurately determined the better player. Fischer argued the merits of the proposal in a 1974 letter to FIDE:

The first player to win ten games, draws not counting, with unlimited number of games wins the match. If the score is nine wins to nine wins, draws not counting, the champion retains title and the match is declared drawn with the money split equally. Versus the old system of the best of 24 games wins the match (12.5 points) and if 12-12 the match is drawn with the champion retaining the title and prize fund is split equally. Draws do count in this system.

The unlimited match favors the better player. This is the most important point, because in the limited game system the match outcome can turn on a very low number of wins, giving the weaker player a chance to "luck out." Also, in the limited game system the player who takes a game or two lead has an advantage out of all proportion. This creates an added element of chance. The player who wins the match should be the player who plays best over the long run, not the player who jumps off to an early lead.[2]

In June, 1974, the FIDE Congress in Nice approved the 10-win regulation and the elimination of draws from the scoring, but imposed a 36-game limit and rejected the 9-9 proposal. On June 27, 1974, Fischer sent a telegram from Pasadena, California to the FIDE Congress:
As I made clear in my telegram to the FIDE delegates, the match conditions I proposed were non-negotiable ... FIDE has decided against my participation in the 1975 World Chess Championship. I therefore resign my FIDE World Championship title.

In March, 1975, an extraordinary FIDE Congress was held in Osterbek, Netherlands, and it was agreed to have an unlimited number of world championship games, but still refused the 9-9 rule (32 votes for it, and 35 votes against it). [3] Fischer, unwilling to budge, refused to defend his title.

In Karpov's memoirs he recounts how he was disappointed to not have a chance to become champion in the traditional manner:

I don't know how Fischer feels about it, but I consider it a huge loss that he and I never played our match. I felt like the child who has been promised a wonderful toy and has it offered to him but then, at the last moment, it's taken away.[4]

On April 3rd, 1975, Karpov was declared the 12th World Champion.

FOOTNOTES
1. Robert James Fischer, by Bill Wall
2 Bobby Fischer letter to FIDE, 1974
3 Robert James Fischer, by Bill Wall
4 Karpov on Karpov: Memoirs of a Chess World Champion, by Anatoly Karpov, Athenuem Press, 1992.

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-07-14  diceman: <HeMateMe: That's not even Fischer, in the photo. Notice how his features are shaded out? This is a conspiracy>

It was supposed to be him.
...but he "stormed out" due to poor lighting.

Apr-08-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Everett> my point is that I wouldn't expect a barely teetering 12-month old to be so committed to walking compared to a three-year old toddler.>

OK, "nonsense" is too strong a word. And the concept of having an expectation value for the result of one game is not much different, if at all, from the concept of having an expectation value for one roll of a pair of dice. But what I was saying was the expected value (result) for one game between two players with a given Elo rating difference is not the same as the P(Win) for the same Elo rating difference based on a large number of games. Or it is, as best, a misleading number if the uncertainty and the confidence level are not specified.

To put it another way, I think that you and I would be willing to bet a substantial amount of money that a fair coin will show heads 50% of the time after a sufficiently large number of coin flips. But I doubt that either you or I would be willing to bet the same amount of money that the same coin will show heads exactly once after only two coin flips.

Apr-08-14  Lambda: <Tiggler> Well, it could have all sorts of patterns, many of which I would know little about. (I wouldn't claim to be an expert in statistics, I merely claim to know when I have a proof of something mathematical and can speak about it with certainty.) But my interpretation of the English used to describe the situation was such that the assumption was being made that all games have the same win/draw/loss probabilities for simplicity's sake, even if we're not quite sure what those probabilities are because ELO isn't very precise. This removes any real complexity from the situation.

(Of course, I may have been biased in jumping on this assumption which just happens to reduce matters to something I can handle with confidence as reasonable, what with interpreting English not being a precise art and all. But such possibilities are difficult to prevent.)

And more generally:

The trick to dealing with draws is, we're talking about "first to N wins" matches. Draws don't count. So we can remodel our win/draw/loss probabilities as win/loss probabilities simply because the continuation of the match means that any draws are automatically replayed until we get a decisive game. (For instance, 50% win, 25% draw, 25% loss becomes 66.6% win, 33.3% loss.) A five-game match is actually "first to three wins".

HOWEVER, this means that ELO ratings don't help us. Because the draw rate matters hugely, and ELO ratings don't give us a draw rate at all. In fact, with a large enough draw rate, even a "first to ONE win" match between players only five points separated becomes a (theoretical) certain win for the stronger player.

An expected score of 0.6 only gives the stronger player a 60% "first to one win" match winning chance if the draw rate is zero. With a 50% draw rate, they get a 70% chance. And with an 80% draw rate, they need to win every decisive game to get that expected 0.6 score. So the match will certainly have a series of (possibly 0) draws followed by a win, and they have a 100% chance.

But this only bolsters the observation that a 0.6 scorer will have a far better than 60% chance of winning a "first to N wins" match.

(Of course, we could ditch this assumption that all games have the same, independent win/draw/loss probabilities. But then things get complicated.)

Apr-08-14  Petrosianic: <RFW3> <I'm actually on the fence a bit on that. While Bobby did say in June of 1974 that `FIDE had decided against his participation' in the world title match,>

That sentence isn't so bad,but read the next one: "I therefore resign my FIDE World Championship title." That one is pretty clear and unequivocal. If he had tried to take it back, FIDE would have let him do it, but he didn't.

This is interesting, because we had a similar discussion in 2007 over the Mexico World Championship tournament. I had one online friend who absolutely INSISTED, up, down and sideways that Kramnik was still the world champion. Reason: Kramnik had lost the title in a tournament, and the title can't change hands in a tournament.

Now, I'm as big a detractor of match championships as anybody, but my friend insisted that a tournament championship was not only a bad idea, but positively illegal. I pointed out that Kramnik had chosen to defend his title that way. I was as against it as anybody, but Kramnik CHOSE to defend his title that way. No matter. Kramnik was still the champion, because the championship can't lose the title that way.

He never had any argument to show that it was illegal. All he could show was that it had never happened <before>. That doesn't prove anything at all, but you couldn't tell him that. I pointed out to him that if you went to Kramnik.com, and looked at the masthead, it clearly said "World Chess Champion 2000-2007". So, even if Kramnik did have any claim on the title, he had "resigned" it. Not resigned exactly, but he had abandoned any claim he might have. Surely that means he's not champion any more.

Nope. My friend insisted that he was still champion whether he liked it or not, whether he wanted to be or not, and he COULDN'T resign it. After all, he was still the last man to win a world championship match. I responded yes, but not the last man to win a world championship <event>. The argument always came full circle at that point. "The world championship can't change hands in a tournament." "How do you know that?" "Because it's never happened before." This guy was actually very smart, but he was beyond reason on this point. Mind you, I share his regard for the world championship match over the world championship tournament. I just stop short at saying it's somehow "illegal" for the title to change hands that way. It's only undesirable.

I felt that if Kramnik had tried to maintain some claim on the title, we might have something to argue about. Maybe. But this is chess, not the mob. You can't say that someone CAN'T resign a title, like he's in the mob for life whether he wants to be or not. Fischer resigned the title in 1974. Kramnik gave up any claim he had on it (in my opinion, none) after the 2007 Mexico tournament.

And in case you're wondering, this friend recognized Anand as champion immediately after the Anand-Kramnik match. He was a match fan, not a Kramnik fan. But we still had an argument any time I mentioned in passing that Anand became champion in 2007.

Apr-09-14  Lambda: There is also Lasker resigning his title to Capablanca a year before their match, and insisting he was the challenger for it. We seem to unanimously reject that resignation and treat it as if Capablanca won the title in a match, I've never seen him described as champion from 1920-1927.

Kramnik-Anand in 2007 is only different in that there was an actual relevant event won by Anand. I reckon if Kramnik had insisted he was still champion then, sensible people who don't pay much attention to the FIDE world champions from 1993-2006 would include any insistence elsewhere that it had been won in the tournament as one of those irregular things we ignore, and say it changed hands in 2008.

So saying it changed hands in 2007 is, (for two quite normal and reasonable stances), based on the idea that two sets of circumstances, neither of which would be adequate on their own, can still be adequate if combined.

Which is fair enough, but rejecting it also seems quite fair to me.

Apr-09-14  Petrosianic: I've seen Capa listed that way, though not very often. I'm not sure if it's correct or not.

Of course in Lasker's day, there was no FIDE to accept or reject his resignation. Only the rest of the world. If Lasker had maintained that he wasn't the champion (suppose he retired and never played again) and the world said that he was, I'd have to say that he wasn't. Champion is a position, not just a status.

This is sort of what happened with Morphy. They never held an official world championship while he was alive, because too many people would have considered Morphy the champion. If the whole world said that Morphy was champion in 1880, while he himself insisted that he wasn't even a chessplayer, would it make sense to call him champion? I'd say no. Being the best isn't necessarily the same as being the champion. You have to "serve" as the champion, and if Lasker or Morphy or Fischer or Kramnik weren't willing to play the role, I don't see how one could consider them champion. (And in Kramnik's case, I wouldn't have accepted it even if he'd claimed it).

In Lasker's case, I've HEARD that the match contract specified that Lasker was the challenger and Capablanca the champion. If that's true, I would (reluctantly) accept Lasker as the challenger in the same kind of way that Ali challenged Frazier for a title he had never lost in the ring. If the contract doesn't say that, and everyone agreed to allow Lasker to retract his resignation, then it would be easier to pretend it never happened. So I need more facts.

Apr-09-14  Everett: <Of course in Lasker's day, there was no FIDE to accept or reject his resignation. Only the rest of the world. If Lasker had maintained that he wasn't the champion (suppose he retired and never played again) and the world said that he was, I'd have to say that he wasn't. Champion is a position, not just a status.>

Yet a criminal who maintains his innocence is still a criminal.

Here's another one: What happens if someone with a Jewish mother insists he is not Jewish? What is he; what he claims to be, or what a groups of others claim him to be?

Apr-09-14  Petrosianic: <Yet a criminal who maintains his innocence is still a criminal.>

True, but being world champion isn't a crime, exactly. It's more like a job. In fact, that's a good way to describe it. As I understand the origin of the term, medieval Kings had a "champion", whose job it was to lay the smack down wherever directed. Ideally, the champion would be the best swordsmen in the land, but not necessarily. In the end, he was the guy the King could call on to do the job. It's a rough analogy, but you can see why I wouldn't regard Morphy as champion in 1880. Whatever the champion's "job" is (it isn't clearly defined), Morphy certainly wasn't doing it, had no intention of doing it, didn't claim to have any intention of doing it, et cetera. Morphy was not the world champion in 1880 (although he possibly could have been if he'd wanted to).

Let's take your "criminal" analogy farther. Soltis describes a thing he calls "Champion by acclamation", which he uses to describe US Champions before 1889. Morphy never won a world championship tournament or match. But he was universally recognized by peers and press alike as the best player in the world. The same is true on all those lists you see of "Unofficial World Champions". The dates are sometimes a bit rough, but it's the same idea (these guys were recognized as the leading player of their eras). It's unofficial, but they were champions of sorts.

It's possible that Fischer regarded himself as a kind of champion by acclamation. Profile of a Prodigy talks about Fischer toying with the idea of challenging Petrosian to a match to 10 wins (this isn't something he cooked up just for Karpov), and retiring undefeated if the match wasn't played, sort of similar to the way Morphy retired. Fischer once made a comment along the lines of "The Russians have held my title for 10 years", so this may be what he was thinking, and it may be the title he thought he was retaining when he resigned the FIDE Title.

The only problem with the idea is that a) I can't find any indication that the challenge was actually issued, b) the world didn't universally recognize him the same way they recognized Morphy, and c) he wasn't retiring undefeated. He'd tried twice to earn a title shot and failed both times.

In the end, Fischer seems to have realized that to be recognized as champion, he'd have to actually win the darn thing, set himself to doing so, and succeeded. Then resigned the title after 19 months.

Was he still champion by acclamation after that time? Outside the US, no. Inside the US, he had a lot of support, but still apparently no. Even in Chess Life & Review, the mail was more against him than for him. People wanted him to play and beat Karpov. It got worse as Karpov's reign continued because he had the kind of reign people had wanted Fischer to have; playing in every tournament in sight, and nearly always winning.

<Here's another one: What happens if someone with a Jewish mother insists he is not Jewish? What is he; what he claims to be, or what a groups of others claim him to be?>

I'm not all that up on Judaism. My understanding is that if you have a Jewish mother, you're Jewish. But Fischer not only claimed he wasn't Jewish, but claimed his mother wasn't either, even though she claimed she was. This falls into the off-the-wall category.

Apr-09-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Petrosianic> Your friend that insisted that the WCC couldn't change hands in a tournament would fit right in here, he seems as stubborn as the rest of us. :-)

But what about the 1948 tournament for WC after Alekhine's death? Surely the WC was determined by a tournament at that time. If your friend insists that this was different because the former WC was dead you could always say that by his reasoning Alekhine is still the WC because the reigning WC had never died while holding the title.

And what makes the FIDE World Championship Tournament (2007), so special? A similar FIDE tournament was held 2 years before, FIDE World Championship Tournament (2005), with Topalov emerging as the winner. So I don't understand how your friend could "show" that changing the WC as a result of a tournament had never happened before. Of course, he would likely claim that it didn't happen in 2005 either.

Apr-09-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: I was around after the Spassky-Fischer match and I remember very well the detailed covering the press gave to Karpov's ascension. It was a given he was very special and going to go all the way to the top. Kapov's strength was tremendous. Korchnoi was one of those players whose game keeps getting better and better with time. Another thing, Korchnoi seemed to greatly benefit from his escape to the West; his results were surprising. My point is that Fischer was well-aware of who Karpov was, and certaily realized that he was probably going to be the challenger, and that he was stronger than Spassky. Fischer was a nervous kind of guy, and the stress of a more difficult Soviet challenger did not sit well with him.
Apr-09-14  Petrosianic: <But what about the 1948 tournament for WC after Alekhine's death? Surely the WC was determined by a tournament at that time.>

We discussed that. I took it as evidence that the title could be awarded in a tournament. But of course it didn't change hands there (Nobody lost the title in that tournament).

I also pointed out that when Lasker resigned the title, there was talk of naming his successor in a tournament (even though the old title holder was still alive, and hadn't lost the title in a match). Nobody suggested that such a tournament would be illegal. To me that proved that it wsa possible to resign the title. I couldn't find anyone who said that Lasker was still champ even if he resigned the title and never played again. It didn't matter, he still insisted that such a rule existed even though he couldn't show it.

Now, there was one similar occurence with the US title, when Max Judd tried to hijack it from Pillsbury by holding a championship tournament. That wasn't quite the same thing though, because the old champion was still alive, kicking, not retired, and hadn't resigned his title. Pillsbury fought the attempt to hijack the title, and it ultimately didn't work. In this case, Kramnik defended in the tournament, lost, accepted the loss, and gave up any claim to the title.

The Lasker incident was really the first one where people challenged the right of the champion to do anything he pleased with the title. Resigning it is one thing, but simply naming his successor rubbed people the wrong way. But that's why Havana came up with a big enough bid to entice Lasker back to the table. That tournament talk was getting serious, and Capablanca preferred to beat the old champ in a match.

<And what makes the FIDE World Championship Tournament (2007), so special? A similar FIDE tournament was held 2 years before, FIDE World Championship Tournament (2005), with Topalov emerging as the winner.>

He didn't recognize Topalov as the world champion, and neither did I (as a matter of fact, Topalov never was Undisputed World Champion; Kramnik was, but only from 2006-2007). We both regarded Topaliov as FIDE Champion, a title that FIDE invented, and could make up their own rules for. Neither one of us had a problem with the FIDE title changing hands in a tournament.

Apr-09-14  Petrosianic: <I remember very well the detailed covering the press gave to Karpov's ascension. It was a given he was very special and going to go all the way to the top.>

I remember once seeing an old Larry Evans "Boy's Life" article mentioning Karpov and annotating their game at San Antonio '72. As I remember, Evans talked about being impressed with Karpov's "coolness under fire" in their game, and mentioned him as someone that the Soviets were "grooming" for a title shot some day.

I wasn't old enough to be following chess in those days, but knowing how I think, I might have considered Karpov as a possible champion some day, but would never have dreamed that he'd become challenger on his first attempt. And even after having been proved wrong on that, I don't think i'd have picked him to beat Fischer in 1975. Maybe some day, but not that quickly.

I feel the same way about Caruana now. Yeah, maybe some day for him. But not yet, not this early. HE's great, but he's no wunderkind, like Tal, Kasparov and Carlsen were.

Larry Evans vs Karpov, 1972

Apr-09-14  Petrosianic: Actually, knowing how I think, I'm sure I'd have predicted all three of Karpov's 1974 Candidates Matches wrongly. Karpov-Polugavesky, I'd have gone with the experienced vet. Polugaevsky was a many times Soviet Champion, in his first Candidates. I'd have picked him.

Karpov-Spassky, I'd have picked Spassky in a heartbeat. Easist pick of the three.

Karpov-Korchnoi. Well, having been wrong about the first two, I'd be expecting a close fight now, but I think I'd still have given the nod to the veteran, just for experience and better nerves for this kind of competition. Karpov had a great run, but this is where it has to end.

Maybe it's just as well he didn't play Fischer, because I'm sure I'd have gone with the experience again, and it would have been embarrassing to keep making the same mistake.

Apr-09-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <<>Of course in Lasker's day, there was no FIDE to accept or reject his resignation.>

Makes me think of Botvinnik, who was not very successful at WC matches when he was the champion, but quite lethal as the challenger in WC matches.

Maybe ol' Mischa should have resigned his title before his matches against challengers, and insisted that they be installed as WCs and then play the match with MB in the role of challenger!

Heh, wonder how that would have turned out :)

Apr-10-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <Lambda>:<Of course, we could ditch this assumption that all games have the same, independent win/draw/loss probabilities. But then things get complicated.>

I did not suggest that we ditch this assumption. My last comment obviously was not clear. It was also worded in an adversarial way, for which I apologize. (I was provoked by the statement that you know your stuff).

My point was that there may be an uncertainty about the result of a Bernoulli trial, even when there is no doubt about the prior expected probability. There may also be an uncertainty, expressed as a distribution, about what is that prior probability even when its mean value is known.

Thus, for example, if the prior assumption is that the expected points per game is 0.6, this may be because every game is a random trial with 0.6 (exactly) as the expected (average) outcome, or it may be because our prior belief, with probability 0.6, is that the expected outcome of each trial is 1.0, or alternatively, with probability 0.4, that the outcome of each trial is 0.0 .

These two interpretations are consistent with the problem statement, but give rise to the conflicting conclusions to which I previously alluded.

Apr-10-14  Lambda: OK, that's clear enough. Standard case of describing the same thing whilst being interested in different aspects of it then.

An omniscient being who knows the game probabilities will only ever call the chances in an infinite match 0/0.5/1.

But if you think of the uncertainty over what those game probabilities are as also being a probabilistic trial, you can get any end result you want, as P(equal) / 2 + P(stronger).

Apr-10-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: <Petrosianic> During those years, '69, '70, '71, '72, you could see Karpov's strength continuously increasing. He could have been world champion for a ridiculously long time,... ---but Kasparov happended---. And Fischer, who followed and understood chess like nobody before him (now with computers and the web it is a wholly different story) would have known about Karpov everything there was to know.
Apr-10-14  Petrosianic: If Kasparov had never been born, Karpov would probably have been champion at least until 1998. After that, who knows? (Karpov voluntarily scaled back his activities at that time when FIDE started screwing with the formats, which might not have happened if there had been no breakaway).

Now, on the other hand, suppose that neither Karpov nor Kasparov had been born. The world champion in 1975 would probably have been Petrosian, Spassky or Korchnoi (with hindsight, probably Korchnoi). Who knows how that would have played out. Korchnoi might never have defected at all.

Apr-10-14  RookFile: Personally, I would have loved to have seen Korchnoi win the last game in one of his early matches with Karpov, then take Fischer on. He would have been just the sort of player to have done that.
Apr-10-14  Everett: Fischer would no doubt said no to Korchnoi as well.
Apr-10-14  Petrosianic: Fischer DID say no to Korchnoi, when Korchnoi found a couple of million in backing, and challenged Fischer in 1980.
Apr-10-14  RookFile: Right. I was thinking of a few years earlier. File it away under coulda woulda, shoulda.
Apr-10-14  Everett: I'll file it under wishful thinking.
Apr-10-14  Everett: <maxi> it doesn't really matter how much you know about guys like Fischer, Karpov and Kasparov. Their opponents studied their games inside and out and still lost all the time. And when they went head to head, Kasparov only pulled away from Karpov, barely, after Karpov hit 40.

Think about it. The maniacally driven and fantastically talented Kasparov aims all his guns on one player for match after match, and is victorious, but just barely. He thought he was going to simply crush Karpov in '90 (a Karpov with minimal top level help) and even then it did not happen.

Karpov is a special case, with both Spassky and Kramnik saying, in different ways and decades apart, that Karpov's chess was not so easy to understand. And he certainly made Garik scratch his head from time to time too. I can imagine Fischer looking over his games and thinking that there is something different in the way this guy thinks about chess.

His dismantling of Kamsky in 1996 is very impressive to me. And though Anand had no break to prepare in 1998, the lazy, tired, 47 yr-old acquitted himself quite well in that match.

Apr-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: <Everett> Yes, Karpov was a special kind of player, with his game following mysterious paths.

The mind benefits from focus and guidance, and, of course, from the new concepts. Alekhine studies the new trails Capablanca has opened in the study of chess and learns chess anew, learning from the creator to the point of eventually playing even better than Capa.

Kasparov had Karpov. Karpov is his hero and nemesis, but, mainly, his guru to the new chess.

I don't know, but possibly it stops there. Now the interconnection is too fast and complex. Everybody contributes a little bit all the time, and very often it is more in the openings than anywhere else. The contributions are worldwide and permeated by computer ideas (if one can speak this way). The kids mature (in chess) much faster, and thus get stronger sooner, while still very young.

For a while, at least, we are witnessing something new.

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