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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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Aug-14-15  Everett: <Cohn had no boyhood> well, there you have it. much more nurture than nature in almost all of these cases. Beyond the initial "luck" of becoming attached to something at a young age, the rest is intense time spent in deep practice.
Aug-14-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Everett: <Cohn had no boyhood> well, there you have it. much more nurture than nature in almost all of these cases. Beyond the initial "luck" of becoming attached to something at a young age, the rest is intense time spent in deep practice.>

I very much doubt that's all there is to it. I spent loads of time on chess after I learned, but I just never got very good at it. Why? Lack of talent. Similarly, I have no doubt that Tommy Lasorda spent way more than 10,000 hours honing his baseball skills, but he was never more than a marginal professional player. Luckily, he found another way to make a living from baseball.

Aug-14-15  Petrosianic: <Unless you can propose something tangible supporting your argument that Fischer was a prodigy, I won't be responding and hold my belief that Fischer wasn't a prodigy>

Well, you seem to be equating "prodigy" with "child prodigy". Granted, Fischer wasn't a "child" when his career took off. But if "prodigy" and "child prodigy": meant the exact same thing, then "child prodigy" would be a redundant term that didn't exist at all. Fischer clearly showed a lot of aptitude for the game before he became US Champion.

You can't rely too heavily on that 1700 rating in a day when there were few rated events, few members in the USCF, and slow updates. There used to be a joke to the effect that a USCF Rating was a numerical representation of the way you played chess a year ago.

Aug-14-15  diceman: I don't think good chess playing necessarily means you will be successful in other fields.

Good games have a truth, a narrative.
Good play requires, alertness, accuracy, striping away noise/bias and getting to what's important. (all types on wins happen, which aren't related to intellectual brilliance)

When you see a Fischer move like NxB in his Petrosian candidates game, it's not so much the quality of the move, but being open to even playing it.

It was said Fischer and Karpov moved quickly.

...by definition, they cant be using massive intellect/thinking to make their moves.

We say we "study" chess, but are we really studying everything?

...or is it just making it familiar, natural to us?

Chess computers are strong because they define the truth. (with tablebases being the ultimate truth)

Since I played before computers,
one of my favorite things is to put moves I'm proud of in the computer, and see if agrees.
(particularly positional moves)

When it does it's a strange feeling, because I know I didn't analyze hundreds of millions of positions.

I was however, able to get to the truth in the position by knowing how to define it and what to avoid.

...and that's what great players do better than us.

Most amateurs see the idea in a chess puzzle, after they are given the solution. Yet, why couldn't they beforehand?

It's not about intelligence, it's about bias, blindness, dogma, and not even allowing the idea to be considered.

Typically when we see an "amazing" game,
it means "I would have never played that."

Aug-14-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <morfishine> OK, I agree with you that this debate has been overdone. And I don't consider it that important either. Besides, it properly belongs on the Fischer page, not this one. But, since you ask, my specific metric for a prodigy is someone that excels in a specific field at an age younger than his/her accomplishments would seem to warrant. Nothing original there. And the definitions of "young" and "excel" are somewhat of a gray area, subjective and personal. I happen to think that winning the US Championship at 14 and becoming a Grandmaster at 15, both of them being the youngest person that had accomplished those up to that time satisfy both the "young" and "excel" criteria, but you might not. So be it. RIP Fischer as a prodigy discussion.

And I won't tell Muhammad Ali, and certainly not his daughter Laila that you think that Fischer was the Greatest. She might beat the crap out of you and she looks quite capable of doing so. :-)

Aug-14-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: Depending on one's definition, Fischer at least thought he WAS a child prodigy. Cavett asked him this very question in the 7 minute partial interview he put out after Bobby had passed.
Aug-14-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <diceman> I agree with you. Computers find the "truth" (although not necessarily always) by extensive calculations. But humans, at least the good ones, just "know" the right moves, and I think that the top players spend more of their time verifying that what they consider the best move is truly the best move rather than searching for it. But I don't really know; maybe some top players in this site would verify my suspicion.
Aug-14-15  Everett: < Joshka: Depending on one's definition, Fischer at least thought he WAS a child prodigy. Cavett asked him this very question in the 7 minute partial interview he put out after Bobby had passed.>

I was a child prodigy, too. Nobody noticed. Took most of my adult life to realize it.

My particular talent? BS detection.

Aug-14-15  Everett: <keypusher> do you feel your 10000'hours were as deeply focused as Fischer's?

With enough focus, the healthy brain can learn truly anything. I don't question that you are quite bright. Yet I don't think most people catch the fever of a singular focus at so young an age, so encumbered by the rest of life.

I imagine you had many other things to do, other interests, besides immersing yourself in a board game, and it was this that prevented you from becoming a GM, not "talent."

In short, I think Lasker was right that anyone can become really, really good at chess with the right kind of effort. Most just don't do it. Fischer did the work and deserves all the credit.

Aug-15-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Everett> So, prodigy simply means obsessively throwing oneself into an activity at a very young age, an unusually young age.>

No, being a prodigy means (to me and apparently others) reaching an unusually high level in any field much earlier than others in the same field. It does not require, nor does it imply, that one needs to be obsessive about it in order to reach the required high level, although it probably doesn't hurt. Conversely, obsessively throwing yourself at an activity at a very young age does not guarantee reaching a high level and qualifying to be considered a prodigy in that field, particularly if you don't have much talent in the field that you obsessively throw yourself into.

That's why prodigies are rare and special. Whether they deserve special treatment because they are prodigies is another topic for discussion.

Aug-15-15  Everett: <aylerkupp> To your first part, use whatever word you want for "obsessive." I think "keen and consistent interest" will do just fine. "Fixation" is another good one. My point remains the same.

And I know there is some "nature" to everything, but I maintain, unless someone is distracted or has some deficiency in a certain area, 10,000 hours is 10,000 hours. Assuming the material is at the right level, a human being is going to get awfully good at anything. This goes for all ages, likely starting from 6 or 7 on up.

And these facts lead into your second part. Prodigies are less impressive than I had once thought, and deserve less of my attention. Great for each of them if their mastery suits them, is enjoyable, fulfilling, etc. I wish the well.

Aug-16-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Everett> I guess that we'll just have to agree to disagree. I think that prodigies are impressive and noteworthy, for their rarity if nothing else, even if they don't always fulfill their full potential.
Aug-16-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Hanada: A prodigy is someone that has an innate understanding of something, especially at a young age. However, that special understanding or skill must still be honed and can atrophy like any other skill, if not nurtured. The word prodigy should not be used, necessarily, in conjunction with success.
Aug-16-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Hanada> I disagree. I think that the words "young" and "success" need to be necessarily used together when referring to prodigies. If a person is not successful in their field at an earlier than expected age, how can they be called prodigies?
Aug-16-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <<keypusher> do you feel your 10000'hours were as deeply focused as Fischer's? With enough focus, the healthy brain can learn truly anything. I don't question that you are quite bright. Yet I don't think most people catch the fever of a singular focus at so young an age, so encumbered by the rest of life.

I imagine you had many other things to do, other interests, besides immersing yourself in a board game, and it was this that prevented you from becoming a GM, not "talent."

In short, I think Lasker was right that anyone can become really, really good at chess with the right kind of effort. Most just don't do it. Fischer did the work and deserves all the credit.>

I have no idea how my study compared to Fischer's. I only know that our results were spectacularly different -- so different that I think it extremely unlikely that differing degrees of focus explains it. The belief that anyone's brain is capable of anything given sufficient focus is sentimental claptrap. Even Malcolm Gladwell has retreated from it. No matter how hard I worked or how focused I was, I could no more be Fischer's equal in chess than I could be Carl Lewis' equal in sprinting.

Aug-17-15  Everett: Vision, vestibular and proprioceptive skills: If all these are working well (a healthy, capable brain), the ability to learn anything is not sentimental claptrap. It's science.
Aug-17-15  diceman: Wait a minute!

Fischer must be a prodigy, there's no other way to have the book:

"Bobby Fischer:Profile of a Prodigy."

Aug-17-15  diceman: <Everett: Vision, vestibular and proprioceptive skills: If all these are working well (a healthy, capable brain), the ability to learn anything is not sentimental claptrap. It's science.>

...learning is one thing,
at some point you need to create.

Aug-17-15  RookFile: Painting is starting to look more and more attractive to me as I get older.
Aug-17-15  Mr 1100: Did any player other than Boris Spassky play against both Fischer and Karpov at match-play?

I'm certainly no expert myself, but I'm inclined to accept Mr Spassky view - that if the 1975 match had actually happened, Fischer would have won.

Aug-17-15  Albion 1959: I read somewhere that Karpov expressed reservations about the first player to win ten games, wins the match. Karpov added that since he and Fischer rarely ever lost games it could take a long time to for either of them to win ten games from each other. I had a look at the statistics and he is right ! For example, Fischer's ten previous losses going back from to 1972, it took him 191 games going back to 1966 to lose ten games. Two of these losses include the blunder in game one of the Spassky Match 29.BxKRP? And a loss to Gheorghiu at the Havana Olympiad, where he refused the offer of a draw. Both of these were losses that Fischer could have easily avoided. But what about Karpov? Well, from the end of 1974 you have to go back to 1970 and a sequence of nearly 250 games for Karpov to notch up ten losses. Going by this, it not is inconceivable that this match (had it ever took place) could have easily lasted 100 games and taken the best part of a year to complete ! I believe that a maximum of thirty games is quite sufficient. You only have to look at what happened in the first Karpov v Kasparov match in 1984-85. And besides, I think that the public and the players involved would eventually get bored:
Aug-17-15  RookFile: Ok, look at the Karpov vs. Kasparov match in 1984. Look at how many short draws there were. You don't get that in a match with Fischer. I'm sure Fischer would have used his greater physical strength and stamina to torture Karpov the longer the match went on.
Aug-17-15  Everett: < RookFile: Ok, look at the Karpov vs. Kasparov match in 1984. Look at how many short draws there were. You don't get that in a match with Fischer. I'm sure Fischer would have used his greater physical strength and stamina to torture Karpov the longer the match went on.>

I'm quite certain Fischer would have cracked when the Soviets and FIDE didn't capitulate to his ever changing demands. He would either quit before the match (as he did), at the lead up or very beginning of the match, or in the middle when he started feeling like he might just lose.

Aug-27-15  RookFile: The topic was the Karpov vs. Kasparov match, and the issue was that it supposedly showed a danger that Karpov vs. Fischer could go 100 games. I don't agree with what you just said, but for the moment, let's just go with your theory. If so, it merely proves the point that Karpov vs. Fischer would not have been a long drawn out affair as some people worried. Kasparov said that the whole issue would be whether Fischer survived the early stage of the match. Kasparov said that if he did, then the odds would actually swing to Fischer's favor, for the reasons I mentioned - Fischer's greater physical strength and stamina combined with Karpov's track record of tiring as matches went on. I think it would have been hell on earth for Karpov to be facing a confident Fischer after 25 games or so, willing to play every game to the last pawn, rather than to get lot of short draws like he did in the 1984 match with Kasparov.
Aug-27-15  Zugzwangovich: <Mr 1100: Did any player other than Boris Spassky play against both Fischer and Karpov at match-play?> Kinda sorta. In a 1975 Milan tournament a round robin stage was followed by semi-final and final matches among the top four finishers. Petrosian and Karpov drew their match 2-2.
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