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  WCC Overview
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 Bergen, 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.


  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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Feb-10-20  RFW3: <<harrylime> Plus Karpov was a Soviet fave at the time ( ask Gary lol ), so he was fast tracked to play Bobby.>

If one is to believe what is written in Bobby Fischer Goes to War, that would be correct in essence.

The Soviets were not going to let Fischer get away with what Spassky allowed in their match. Plus there may have been some concern that Spassky may have wanted to defect to the west.

If this were indeed true, given that he was a loyal party member, Karpov was a good choice for the Soviets in their quest to go get their title back. If not a "favorite," he was certainly considered reliable.

<<asiduodiego> 2- In hindsight, it seems that after winning the 1972 title, Fischer lost interest in chess. At 1975 probably there was hope that he may continue playing, but history has proven that was not the case.>

I'm not at all sure it is as simple as saying Bobby 'lost interest' in chess after winning the title.

He came up with the increment clock and a variation of the game he said was geared to eliminate prepared opening analysis... All after the 1972 match, so clearly he was still thinking about chess.

The theory I most agree with concerning Bobby is that he was simply afraid of losing... Not necessarily to Karpov, but losing in general.

Feb-10-20  Petrosianic: <RFW3>: <I'm not at all sure it is as simple as saying Bobby 'lost interest' in chess after winning the title.>

He didn't lose interest, he simply couldn't keep up the pace. The big weakness in the Fischer System is that it involved Total Immersion in Chess. All the other top GM's were able to balance chess with real life. Some, like Taimanov, even achieved fame in other fields. Fischer couldn't. It was all chess or nothing.

I don't think he intended to retire after winning the title, he probably just wanted to take a <break>. After 15 years of total immersion, he certainly deserved one. But chess is one of those things that when you put it down it's hard to pick it up again. Not impossible, by any means. But you know how the paradox of chess is that you have to lose a lot before you become a winner. When you get out of chess, and come back, you need some time to get back in shape. For a while you won't be as sharp as you were when you got out.

And it's hard to summon the energy to get back in at all. If you were devoting 12 hours a day to chess before, and took a break, then you started doing something else with those 12 hours. So, to get back in, you have to cut 12 hours out of your current schedule, and re-allocate it back to chess. It's not impossible, it's just very difficult.

Premium Chessgames Member
  theagenbiteofinwit: Do you think Fischer just might have heard about the "Raul" Karpov KGB rumors?

Given Fischers penchant to believe in global conspiracies and his already well established habit of refusing to play at events, it's easy for me to imagine him believing that the 5 million dollar fund for the match was the price on his head and give up chess completely as a result.

Feb-10-20  Petrosianic: <theagenbiteofinwit>: <Given Fischers penchant to believe in global conspiracies and his already well established habit of refusing to play at events, it's easy for me to imagine him believing that the 5 million dollar fund for the match was the price on his head and give up chess completely as a result.>

Except that he stopped playing in 1972, not 1975.

Feb-10-20  Petrosianic: <asiduodiego>: <In my opinion, these are the facts..."

Do you even realize what you just said?

Feb-15-20  asiduodiego: <Petrosianic> Hahahahaha, yeah, I know. What I meant to say that in my opinion, those were the relevant facts to the argument. I think is above doubt the fact that 1) Fischer pushed for a greater advantage for the challenger than any other WC. 2) He never presented any alternative or tried to sell his ideas. 3) He lost interest in keeping the pace to remain in the top of the chess world after winning.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Karpov got the rematch clause that Botvinnik had. After Campomanes pulled Tolya's a*s out of the flames in 1984 a new match was created between he and and Kasparov (they would start at 0-0) AND he got a REMATCH CLAUSE! Karpov got more than Fischer was asking for! This still wasn't enough to save Karpov, because the young Kasparov was The Terminator, but still...
Feb-16-20  asiduodiego: In my previous post I meant to say: "A greater advantage for the World Champion", given that for winning the match, the challenger needed to win by 2 points. In all previous WC matches, this never had happened.
Feb-16-20  RFW3: <HeMateMe> He got more than just a rematch clause. The loser of the rematch was seeded directly into a match with the candidates winner, instead of being seeded into the candidates.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: yes, it was the biggest swindle since...The Great Train Robbery? The Brinks Job? The Lufthansa Heist? Karpov made out like a bandit.
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Fischer would have crushed the COMMIES and Karpov back in the 70's ...

But he wasn't bothered.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Bobby had bigger fish to fry....he was taking on the <Secret World Government>, no less. I'm fighting that battle, too, but in a subtler way.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: This is what Bob was listening to during the 1974-75 negotiations:


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

I mentioned on the Karpov page that Karpov played Bobby Fischer in a simul at Gibraltar (a draw) this is a picture of the event.

Sadly the uncanny Fischer look-a-like is NOT Robert Fischer, he is the grey haired lad in the red top next to the white pillar.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

An overhead shot v the same player.

I wonder if John Saunders was up in a drone when he took this shot.


Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < Sally Simpson: ***
An overhead shot v the same player.

I wonder if John Saunders was up in a drone when he took this shot.>

Of course it's not Bobby, old greybeard is playing a Caro-Kann!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi K.P.

He was hiding his prep for the real event.


Mar-03-20  asiduodiego: I don't know if the infamous "rematch" clause Karpov got was indeed more unfair than the 2-game margin required by Fischer. I agree that it is unfair, but there is no question: the winner in the first match is undisputed World Champion at least until the rematch. That's why Smyslov and Tal are considered bona fide "World Champions" and not just "runner-ups".

I guess the deal was that, given that they were playing with a "pure-wins" format, and without the unfair 2-point clause, Karpov (or whoever) demanded some champion advantage, as it was tradition. And he got a rematch clause. Indeed, it's an advantage, but that means he has the opportunity to play a return match, not an advantage in the incumbent match. Also, it wasn't completely unprecedented. For example, in the 50s, Botvinnik got draw match odds, and a rematch clause.

Fischer's terms were draw match odds and requiring a 2-point margin for the challenger, which are, I think, the most loaded terms for advantage in the history of chess World Championships.

Mar-03-20  Petrosianic: That's right. People speak as if Tal and Smyslov never held the title at all, which simply isn't true.

As for the rematch clause, people forget why that happened. This one bounces back to Fischer also. What happened is that Karpov wanted to go back to the old Best of 24 format. The USCF wanted a Pure Wins match, to prove that Fischer's Rules really worked.

Ed Edmondson, Fischer's own negotiator, negotiated with Karpov, and got Karpov to agree to play an unlimited match in return for a rematch clause. Without the USCF's involvement and support, Karpov would never have gotten it. This was reported in Chess Life & Review.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: Wonder if Karpov was amused by the look-a-like Bobby?...he was smiling so I'm sure there was some funny banter:-)
Mar-03-20  Atking: Sally Simpson: ***
An overhead shot v the same player. Surely a Caro Kann 2 Knights. Qe2 and Re1 Then if Re8 and Bg4 comes Bxf7+! as KxB Qc4+ xBg4

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: How come there is no thread on the rematch?
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: <How come there is no thread on the rematch?>

Boris mailed it in. He picked up a paycheck.

May-30-20  Allanur: More detailed article from contemporary sources about how the negotiations went:

There You can read lots of unknown things about Bobby's life in 1970s.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Now this is funny stuff what with the Fischer look a like, this is great stuff!
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