Original: Karpov - Fischer World Championship Match (1975)
Fischer vs FIDE, 1975
After defeating Spassky in 1972, Bobby Fischer stopped playing serious chess, turning down several lucrative offers to play in public.
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.
Karpov on Karpov: Memoirs of a Chess World Champion, by Anatoly Karpov, Athenuem Press, 1992.