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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
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 80 OF 80 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-25-14  diceman: <a condition that he himself admitted was illegitimate: the champion's advantage.>

Oh the irony!
When Fischer won the championship, only his opponent had the <illegitimate> advantage.

...but I guess what did happen, bothers
<Petrosianic:> less vs. what never happened.

Jul-25-14  Everett: <RookFile: <Subjective. I say Fischer avoided it by refusing to simply follow the basic format.>

Ah yes. Fischer wins the world championship, and that creates an obligation on his part to follow somebody's else new format, rather than his own. It's all becoming clear to me now.>

Hmmm? It's FIDE's title, or haven't the Kasparov years made that clear to you? Or didn't the years 72-75 make that clear? Evidently you were as deluded as Fischer.

Jul-25-14  Petrosianic: <Self-evidently, the champion's advantage is unfair, i.e., not the same for both sides, but did Fischer actually use the term 'illegitimate'?>

Fischer didn't use the word in that particular letter at all. Edmondson called it "unfair", and in his response, Fischer said "I agree with everything you said, but I'm not backing down."

I'm not sure of the exact wording Fischer used in previous cases where he objected to the champion's advantage. I'm pretty sure he said "unfair", but doubt he said "illegitimate". It doesn't seem like the kind of word Fischer would use. It seems like too hoity-toity a word for him.

Jul-25-14  Everett: < "I agree with everything you said, but I'm not backing down.">

This makes one consider that perhaps Fischer said anything that prevented a match from coming off.

Jul-25-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: There was nothing left to attain for Fischer's fragile ego, once having reached the pinnacle--he had invested everything of himself in his quest for the supreme title. It is unfortunate that in this way, he was psychologically weaker than any of his predecessors. The chess world was deprived of many interesting games and Fischer himself was the greater loser.
Nov-12-14  gamesguru: "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."

One wonders if Fischer would have come up with additional demands, or if four measly jackarse votes is all that stood between such an anticipated clash of champions. I'd like to know what those 35 jackarses were thinking when they voted against.

At least 20 beautiful games that were never played, such a pity.

Nov-12-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <gamesguru>

<I'd like to know what those 35 jackarses were thinking when they voted against.>

Here's a guess.

1. The 9-9 proposal is unfair.

2. Fischer is not going to play anyway.

And I think they were right on both counts.

Fischer didn't play again, ever, in any format, the 1992 farce aside. HE hadn't played for three years prior and he didn't play for 20 years after. That's not FIDE's fault. It's Fischer's.

Nov-12-14  Petrosianic: <And I think they were right on both counts.>

Well, one thing that went against Fischer was that he didn't even argue his own case. He resigned his title at the very first sign of trouble (in June 1974) leaving it to Ed Edmondson to try to negotiate something that he MIGHT possibly accept.

Of course that March 1975 Congress threw everything out of balance. Fischer had INTENDED to give up the title over the Unlimited Match clause, which was a fairly reasonable thing to fight for. He'd never intended to give it up over the 9-9 clause, which he himself had said was unfair. But after FIDE caved on the Unlimited Match, that was the only excuse left.

In hindsight, we know that Fischer wasn't going to play anyway, but that was far from obvious at the time. There were plenty of people even after March 1975 who thought that Fischer fully intended to play outside of FIDE, and basically do what Kasparov did 18 years early.

Nov-12-14  RookFile: We know nothing of the kind.
Nov-24-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  optimal play: Quote of the Day

“Soviet Grandmasters privately scoffed at Karpov's chances in 1975. Most pundits believed he would lose ... and lose badly.”

-- Lev Alburt

I recall reading somewhere that even Karpov himself believed that would be the case; he was already looking towards 1978 as a more realistic chance of becoming WCC.

Nov-24-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <optimal play> Karpov has been quoted in these pages as having assessed his chances of victory in 1975 as fairly unlikely and indeed looking towards the following cycle with more optimism.
Nov-24-14  Petrosianic: That's his chances against the Fischer of 1972. who wouldn't have been showing up in any case.
Jan-17-15  Albion 1959: I am inclined to agree with Petrosanic (Nov 12th 2014). We will never know for sure why Fischer turned his back on the game he loved and we can only conjecture as to the reasons why. He was never going to play again. Even if FIDE had agreed to his 9-9 rule, Fischer would have thrown in yet another unreasonable demand. A sad loss to the game to quit when he did, we will never know far he could have gone and what he could have achieved. For the return match in 1992 with Spassky does not really count. It was like watching two old pot-bellied heavyweight boxers well past their sell by date, who were cashing in for one last big pay day. I believe that Fischer only came back for the money and that it had to be an opponent whom he knew he could defeat, while at the same time retaining an image of respectability by not having reputation tarnished by losing. I am sure fischer could have easily made more money had he played against Kasparov instead !!
Mar-04-15  Maynard5: There is an interesting set of interviews with Karpov on the European site Chess Base (www.chessbase.com), which are reported in three parts over March 2-4, 2015. In these, Karpov discusses his analysis of the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match, his own preparation in 1974, and his later meetings with Fischer. They met briefly in 1974 during a tournament in Texas, but did not converse extensively. Karpov reports that he and Fischer subsequently met in Asia in 1976, but that a match still could not be arranged. The latter meeting – or at least Karpov’s recollection of it -- provides some intriguing insights into the mindsets of both players.

Trying to predict the outcome of the 1975 match remains problematic. Karpov had defeated Spassky by 4-1 in 1974 (proportionally better than Fischer’s 7-2), and Korchnoi by 3-2 (in 1970, Fischer and Korchnoi played three times, and broke even). Further, Fischer was out of practice, while Karpov was well-prepared. Despite this, the odds probably still favored Fischer. Most likely Fischer would have won a conventional match by a small margin. Spassky has been widely quoted as predicting that Fischer would have won in 1975 but that Karpov would have returned to win the championship in 1978. This seems like a reasonable assessment.

Mar-04-15  1d410: <Maynard: Spassky has been widely quoted as predicting that Fischer would have won in 1975 but that Karpov would have returned to win the championship in 1978. This seems like a reasonable assessment.> Spassky's assessment is biased because Spassky and Karpov were both from the U.S.S.R. Fischer would have probably been the ultimate champ, having a high rating like Magnus!
Mar-04-15  1d410: I am a Fischer fanboy I love watching his games :) !
Mar-04-15  Petrosianic: If you're interested in his games, you may not be a fanboy. The fanboys generally care about everything about him <except> his games.
Mar-04-15  Petrosianic: <Fischer would have probably been the ultimate champ, having a high rating like Magnus!>

IF he had been able to play at all, perhaps. But he wasn't. The reason why he couldn't is one of the few weaknesses in Fischer's armor. His training regimen was a 100% Total Immersion tecnique that left no time for anything outside of chess. It's not surprising that he didn't want to spend his whole life like that. The other world champions were able to balance chess with life better, in such a way that they made it to the top while still having time for family and other life outside of the game. Some were even able to make their mark in other fields, as well as in chess.

Mar-04-15  RookFile: Kind of helps when the USSR pays for all your bills, too.
Mar-04-15  1d410: <Petrosianic> I agree. Fischer deserved to lose the championship, but he still played well.
Mar-04-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <They met briefly in 1974 during a tournament in Texas, but did not converse extensively.>

It was 1972, San Antonio (1972).

<Karpov reports that he and Fischer subsequently met in Asia in 1976, but that a match still could not be arranged.>

They met twice more. In August/September 1976 in Cordoba, Spain, (Karpov was playing locally at an tournament in Montilla), and in or around October 1977 in Washington DC. Although Karpov focuses on Fischer's apparent unwillingness to play, he had his own problems in persuading the Soviet authorities to give him permission to play a match outside FIDE. See the documentation in the book <Russians versus Fischer>.

Mar-04-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <keypusher: <gamesguru>

<I'd like to know what those 35 jackarses were thinking when they voted against.>

Here's a guess.

1. The 9-9 proposal is unfair.

2. Fischer is not going to play anyway.

And I think they were right on both counts.>

In which case, they should have voted in favour, and put the ball back in Bobby's court.

Mar-04-15  Petrosianic: <In which case, they should have voted in favour, and put the ball back in Bobby's court.>

Why? They already put him badly behind the 8-ball as it was. Fischer had intended to give up the title over the Unlimited Match Clause, which would have been highly debatable. With 20/20 hindsight, we know what a bad idea it was, but a lot of people wanted to give it a try back then, and if we hadn't, we'd always have wondered.

But in the end, Fischer gave up the title not over that, but over the 9-9 clause which he himself had said was unfair. Much less sympathy to be had there except by the True Believers.

The mail in Chess Life & Review was more against Fischer than for him. That wouldn't have been the case if he'd given up the title over the Unlimited Match.

Mar-04-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Why?>

Why not? Fischer was the biggest asset in the chess world. An organisation that had the best interest of the game at heart should've bent over backwards to accommodate him.

<But in the end, Fischer gave up the title not over that, but over the 9-9 clause which he himself had said was unfair. Much less sympathy to be had there except by the True Believers.>

Would only be relevant if the anti-Fischer bloc was motivated by a desire to discredit Fischer. Is there any record on which way the individual federations voted on each of Fischer's conditions?

Mar-04-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: The champion always gets draw odds. Not sure that 9-9 with draws not counting is any worse for the challenger than 12-12 counting draws (which would have retained the title for Spassky in 1972).
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