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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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Mar-11-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett.... (Fischer and Karpov's) goal was not to accumulate the best record so kibitzers at chessgames.com 40 years later could use it as proof of strength.>

Judging by the interminable debates in a vacuum over, inter alia, this topic, one would never know it.

Mar-12-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Fischer would've won. His preparation for matchplay, as demonstrated in 1972, was unique and proved unanswerable, and would have resulted in much the same thing in 1975. The point is that its been generalized that one prepares for tournaments in breadth, while matches are prepared in depth. Fischer did both in 1972, eschewing no less than 9 different openings. That was unheard of and still is unheard of.

*****
Minsk Nov 1974

Karpov: "Thank you Effim, Misha, Boris for aggreeing to act as seconds for the upcoming match. The Motherland is proud of you. Now, I've been thinking, I want to focus on 1.d4 as White, and based on the last match, we must be ready for a Nimzo, Benoni, and QGD. Knowing Bobby, he may play at least once a KID, Gruenfeld and some variation of the Slav. Also, who knows, he may try to surprise us once with a Dutch, and while I doubt it, you never know. Now, I want to prepare some lines with 1.e4, in which case his primary response will probably be a Najdorf though he could very well venture a Pirc. We need to be thoroughly prepared for this. But again, based on the last match, he's bound to play at least once, a Ruy and of all things, an Alekhine. Now, from the Black side, I think we can count on the majority of the games to begin with 1.e4, in which case I want to base our defense on 1...c6; However, I want a minimum of 4 lines prepared with 1...e5, 2 each for a Ruy and Petroff; I think there's little chance he will play 1.d4; however, we must be prepared for 1.c4, which I think main line should start with 1...c5. So, what I would like to happen, is we prepare for up to 8-10 possible variations, with the work evenly devided between you and sub-variations assigned to your assistants. Misha, I would like you to organize the White-side preparations while Boris handles the Black-side. Effim, I would like you to oversee both. Thank you, thats all for now"

Later phone call from Karpov to Geller:

Karpov: "Effim, don't neglect anything from our Alekhine preparation. Boris really botched that up last match, thanks"

*****
Islamorada, FL Dec 1974

Phone rings somewhere on the beach:

Fischer: "Yello"

Lombardy: "Hey, Bobby, its Bill"

Fischer: "Wassup?"

Lombardy: "Wondering about plans for the match?"

Fischer: "Well, I figured we'd go the same way as before. I'll just memorize MCO"

Lombardy: "Right"

Fischer: "Don't cut in like that. Anyways, on a game day, I'll just play whatever I feel like playing"

Lombardy: "Right, but no poison-pawn, Ok?"

Fischer: "We'll see"

*****

Mar-12-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: I thought Karpov's exchange sacrifice in game 1 was brilliant - Fischer really had no defense.
Mar-12-15  Everett: <morfishine> It is more than clear that Fischer was incapable of preparing for the 1975 as he had prepared in the past. In fact, he was completely burnt out. Perhaps this is why he resigned, at root.

It is even more clear that he couldn't come to play at all, and properly resigned his title.

Mar-12-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett....The Soviets had to play to earn their income. They certainly didn't have the freedom to pick and choose events and cycles.>

If one of the heavy gunners said, 'Nyet, nyet--I not go to Santa Monica--send those patzers Bronstein or Kholmov instead!', Baturinsky and his ilk probably would have had him locked up for evaluation of his mental state.

Travelling to events outside the Iron Curtain was regarded as a heaven-sent opportunity in more ways than one.

Mar-12-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <morphishine> Opening prep is grossly overrated, particularly Fischer's. Also, eschewing is not the word you want.
Mar-12-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <Everett> I agree Fischer was burnt out, as he admitted

<keypusher> I don't agree that opening prep is grossly overrated

*****

Mar-12-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <morfishine> That was very entertaining, anyway...
Mar-12-15  RookFile: Quite agree, morfishine's post gave me a smile.
Mar-12-15  Everett: it seems, then, if Fischer in late 1974 agreed to a match after not playing for 2+ years, being generally burnt out and heading toward greater mental illness, he would have lost, likely convincingly. This is assuming he would even finish the match.

I wonder at what point was the true point of no return for him. Was it right after winning the WC? Some random time in 1973? '74?

Mar-13-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <morfishine: ...Fischer did both in 1972, eschewing no less than 9 different openings. That was unheard of and still is unheard of.>

Sorry...? What did Fischer eschew?

Mar-13-15  Troller: <I wonder at what point was the true point of no return for him. Was it right after winning the WC? Some random time in 1973? '74?>

That of course can never be determined with absolute certainty, but there is some merit to the idea that the Karpov-Spassky match (Karpov - Spassky Candidates Semifinal (1974)) was the last nail in the coffin.

For one thing, I believe it was after this he tried to resign his title. For another, the generally held view is that his great fear of failing (before an event, never at the board) was the key factor in his no-show in 1975 - and this would be enhanced by a new, younger and unknown opponent who with ease disposed of an otherwise rejuvenated Spassky who played better in 1974 than in 1972.

Mar-13-15  Lambda: The "burnout" theory and the "fear of looking ordinary" theory are perfectly compatible with each other. He knows he no longer has the energy to put such obsessive effort into his chess, so he knows he won't look so impressive in any future chess he plays, and so avoids it.
Mar-13-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Sorry guys, got my words mixed up. No excuse...
Mar-13-15  Poulsen: Fischer not playing Karpov? Simple, he had abandoned chess - not officially off course - but mentally. This was already foreseen by Larsen and others, who knew his strange personality better than we do.

Larsen wrote about this likely outcome already in 1972/73 - despite Fischer declaring, that he intended to be WCh in the next 30 years.

It has nothing to do with Karpov emerging as opponent.

Mar-13-15  pcomanici: Many of you are forgetting that Fisher didn't defend his title because he was Afraid to loose it. (a conclusion drawn by many that were close to him at the time... also an indication that his illness had taken affect) If your interested in this timeline, read Karpov's memoirs. If what he says is true about Spassky ; Spassy's form was off! i.e. the time leading up to the match with Fisher was spent on drinks and woman rather than training. (According to Karpov, both Korchnoi and him were sent to Spassky training lodge to help him prepare ... in which they found nothing partying going on. Karpov opinion at the time of Spassky was that he was over confident that he would defeat Fisher. (Before the WC match, Spassky has a winning record against Fisher) Yet, Karpov cited... both Korchnoi and him both defeated Spassky in their training matches at the lodge... Point being... Both Karpov and Korchnoi were both spoiling for a fight...i.e. Unlike Spassky.

The match between Fisher and Karpov would have been a great WC match... can't say who would have won.. (If Fisher was healthy mentally... yea probably him... but it wouldn't have been a blow out) Karpov... was just getting his WC form. And... say what ya want about Karpov... The guy was/is a fighter! No#1 for ten years then the No#2 challenger for another 10 years! That's dominating chess! (Besides Kasparov I don't know of any other WC playing competitive chess that has lasted like he did.)

Mar-13-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <keypusher: <morphishine> Opening prep is grossly overrated, particularly Fischer's. ....>

This is overstated, maybe even overrated. Fischer's opening prep was amazing, of course. I think it had less to do with his win in 1972 than many believe. Its main value was negative; he avoided giving the Soviets a target. Reams of analysis in the Gruenfeld and King's Indian must have gone unused. He got one spectacular victory in the QGD; but he mostly played his standby 1.e4. Looking at his seven wins, I don't see most of them having much to do with prepared lines, though I'm sure surprise helps explain Spassky's play in, say, Game 3 (the Benoni), 6 (QGD), 8 (English), 13 (Alekhine's).

Of course he didn't really prepare for Spassky by memorizing MCO; he prepared specific new openings, very deeply. Re the match that never was, there is no telling what he would have played, but I think his opening expansion had reached its limits more or less. He could play the Pirc or Alekhine's (he'd played Alekhine's before the match), but I have a hard time seeing him ever play the French or the Caro-Kann. He could have developed some new lines in the Sicilian, like the one he played in the last game of the match. But I suspect the main battleground when Karpov had white would have been the Najdorf (with Be2, so no poison pawns!).

Mar-13-15  Petrosianic: <I wonder at what point was the true point of no return for him. Was it right after winning the WC? Some random time in 1973? '74?>

He seems to have taken about a year off chess as soon as he won the title, which turned into a permanent layoff. If you've seen Harold Schonburg's New Zork Times article, "Fischer's Friends Fear He May Never Play Chess Again", they were saying that during his previous absences from the game, he was always up on the latest tournaments and innovations, while this time he seemed unfamiliar with recent events. And this was written in Summer 1973.

No telling when the point of no return was, but the rapidity with which he resigned the title at the very first sign of trouble, without bothering to fight for his match conditions, suggests that he felt he'd already gone past that point in June 1974.

Mar-13-15  Lt.Surena: "Fischer's Friends Fear"

I double he had any friends. "Friends" would have sought medical help for him long before Bobby's condition started to snowball.

Mar-13-15  Petrosianic: I think you missed the point of the article.
Mar-13-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: <keypusher> I had the pleasure of meeting and talking briefly (maybe all of 2 minutes if that) with Karpov (2004) and asked him what he was preparing for Bobby in 1975 and beyond, he stated without hesitation, "Oh, the Spanish"...
Mar-13-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Joshka: <keypusher> I had the pleasure of meeting and talking briefly (maybe all of 2 minutes if that) with Karpov (2004) and asked him what he was preparing for Bobby in 1975 and beyond, he stated without hesitation, "Oh, the Spanish"...>

Thanks, interesting. I bet he would have played 1.e4 also and stuck with it unless Fischer made him switch, as Kasparov eventually did.

Mar-18-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <keypusher:... I bet he would have played 1.e4 also and stuck with it unless Fischer made him switch, as Kasparov eventually did>

Game 7 of the 1984 match began with Karpov's 1.d4.

Mar-18-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Troller: <I wonder at what point was the true point of no return for him. Was it right after winning the WC? Some random time in 1973? '74?> That of course can never be determined with absolute certainty, but there is some merit to the idea that the Karpov-Spassky match (Karpov - Spassky Candidates Semifinal (1974)) was the last nail in the coffin...>

I hadn't heard that, but that's a very good theory. He may have looked at Karpov's games, and his handful of lost games in '73 & '74, and thought, "How can I possibly beat this guy?"

Mar-18-15  RookFile: Well, one way is the same way that Kasparov did. Just keep the score in hand and watch the number of games go up. At some point Karpov tires out. It almost worked for Korchnoi, too.
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