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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-29-20  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.

Feb-29-20  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!

Feb-29-20  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.

May-30-20  morfishine: Now this is funny stuff what with the Fischer look a like, this is great stuff!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: Now that Karpov vs Spassky, 1975 finished their opening act, where's the main event?
Jan-11-21  Allanur: Unlimited match idea is absurd. I oppose the current system, Cramer proposal and the former system all.

The champion should have draw odds, but not in the way it was used in the past, nor the way Fischer proposed (like first to win 10, draw if 9-9). I would want it this way:

* Best of 24 games
* The champ has draw odds IF he scored at least 2 wins. If the score is 1-1 or 0-0, then the champ is stripped off of the title. The title is vacant and in the next cycle, round robin tournament like that of 1948 may determine the champion. Or maybe mach play.

In this way, the champ is pressured to fight for a win. He can'g just sit and play for win, expecting the challenger to take risks and then expose those risks. I know you might be saying "but then the challenger has the advantage." Here is my solution to that:

* The challenger can win the title by 1 more win IF he scores at least 3 wins in 24 games. Below 3 wins, he can win only by 2 more win gap. It means, the challenger may win the title if the score is 3-1, but if the score 2-1 then he does not become champion. The title is again vacant as the reigning champ lost the match.

Prize distribituion will depend on the results:

* if the match is drawn with the champ qualifiying to draw odds, the prize is distributed as such: %50 to the champ, 40% to the challenger. 10% goes to the organiser. * If the title became vacant due to a tie score (1-1, 0-0), the two sides each gets 25% of the prize. The remaining 50% is left to the organising entity (national federation?) * if the title became vacant due to a win by the challenger, then the challenger gets 50% of money and the champ gets 25%. Remaining goes ro the organiser entity. * Challenger becomes champion (either 2-0 or with above score), the new champ (winner of the match) get 65% and the ex-champion gets 35%. * The reigning champ defeats the challenger, the champ gets 65% and the challenger gets 35%.

It would generate lots of risks. To enjoy draw odds, the champ has to score 2 wins. The champ is under that pressure. Simultaneously, the challenger knows that he has to score at least 3 wins, because the champ is pushing for 2 wins.

The champ may be under greater pressure, but that is how it should be: you are the champion, you of course will be under pressure. Moreover, you have draw odds whereas the challenger does not.

Why should the champion have draw odds? Because, to be the champion the challenger has to show he is superior, not equal, to the reigning champ. We are not looking for co-champion, we are looking for the champion. The throne is for 1 people, the champ is currently occupying it. Oust and Dethrone the champ, draw means he is just challenged,not ousted.

Jan-11-21  Petrosianic: <Allanur>: <Unlimited match idea is absurd.>

In the 70's, there was a mass delusion to the effect that the unlimited match would reduce draws, because, if people have to have 10 wins, they'll just go for them as quickly as possible, right?

A lot of this was fueled by Charles Kalme's article in the November 1975 issue of Chess Life & Review. Kalme was a professional mathematician, but he fudged numbers and threw out data that didn't suit him willy-nilly, to try to prove this.

A lot of the hysteria was based over the 1975 Karpov-Korchnoi Candidates Final, which finished with a +3-2=19 score. It was actually a great fighting match with lost of tough games, but the results are what people look at.

According to Kalme, it was the match conditions (Best of 24 or 5 wins), that caused all those draws. The other 6 Candidates Matches had similar rules, and totally dissimilar results, but Kalme just ignored them.

Kalme believed that there was a Fixed "Draw Expectation" that was totally dependent on match conditions, and honestly believed that at match to 10 wins wouldn't go longer than 23 games, because that's how long they went in the 19th century.

So in 1978, Karpov and Korchnoi played an Unlimited Match, the format that was supposed to guarantee decisive results. And after 24 games, the score was +4-2=18. Almost exactly the same as before. Maybe that's just the way these two play against each other. Who'd a thunk it? Kalme was last seen shining shoes in Grand Central Station.

Jan-11-21  Allanur: @Petrosianic, probably in 19th century the players payed for themselves. That might have been the reason they scored 10 in 23 games.

If expenses are being paid by the FIDE or anyone other than the player, unlimited match will encourage passive play. You have unlimited time and zero expense. Keep it absolutely safe. Anyone can realise it based on thinking alone. Kalme probably argued so for ideological/propoganda reasons.

Anyway, I hope in the future my proposal will be accepted :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  gezafan: Someone told me that Kalme's article compared winning a match under the unlimited 10 game scenario to winning under the traditional 24 game scenario and winning the rematch. In other words Kalme's article basically "proved" that winning one match was easier than winning two matches.

Is this correct? This sounded questionable to me.

I did a search and couldn't find the article online. Is what I was told correct?

Jan-11-21  Petrosianic: <Someone told me that Kalme's article compared winning a match under the unlimited 10 game scenario to winning under the traditional 24 game scenario and winning the rematch.>

I don't think Kalme got much into that question at all. He was mainly concerned with draws.

But I think other people may have used that argument. Like I think Lubosh Kavalek argued that Korchnoi could win the first match 6-0, lost the second match 6-4, and he wouldn't be world champion despite scoring 11-6 overall. Which is true, if we pretend that the title doesn't change hands until after the second match.

But that could happen even without a rematch clause. If Smyslov had won by 6 points in 1954 and lost by 1 point in 1957, then he wouldn't be world champion, but it wouldn't mean he had NEVER been world champion. He'd be an ex-champion, unlike Bronstein, Schlechter, and others harmed by the tie clause, who were never champs at all.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Petrosianic: ...I think Lubosh Kavalek argued that Korchnoi could win the first match 6-0, lost the second match 6-4 [5], and he wouldn't be world champion despite scoring 11-6 overall.>

That phenomenon occurs every day in tennis: a player wins more sets and therefore wins the match, but the beaten opponent wins more games overall.

Jan-23-21  Petrosianic: Yeah, it's not uncommon. But a lot of people said some really bizarre things to try to support Fischer. Kalme was the worst offender. But even Gligoric in Game of the Month spun the rejection of the 9-9 tie clause as Fischer being the first world champion to not be allowed to keep his title in case of a draw.

That's untrue on so many levels. That makes it sound like he loses his title on a tie when in fact, no tie is possible. And far from being the first time, there had been many such matches in the past, including 1892, 1894, 1896/7, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1927, and maybe others. Alekhine's last four title matches were a special case. A drawn match was possible, but only if 6 wins were scored within the first 30 games (because you needed both Wins and Points). If it went beyond Game 30, no tie was possible.

In fact, the truth was almost the opposite of what Gligo claimed. The only title match we know of that had a 9-9 tie clause was Steinitz-Zukertort, in which there was no defending champion to benefit from it.

Jan-23-21  Petrosianic: Incidentally, I've found that there are Chess Life & Review archives online now, so Kalme's article is available for those who want to see it for themselves. The Jaws cartoon is funny, at least.

Jan-23-21  unferth: <Allanur: @Petrosianic, probably in 19th century the players payed for themselves. That might have been the reason they scored 10 in 23 games.>

accuracy of play was much lower too, of course.

Jan-23-21  Petrosianic: Yeah, well Kalme thought that didn't matter. It didn't matter how good the players were or how closely matched they were. In his mind there was a fixed "Expectation of Draws" that was completely dependent on match conditions. By his thinking, I could hope for a lot of draws against Fischer (!) if I was smart enough to play him in a Wins or Points match instead of a Pure Wins match.
Feb-20-21  Allanur: <accuracy of play was much lower too, of course.> Accuracy is not that much of a factor there. Accuracy was lower on both sides(challenger and the champion). They did not have luxury of playing for a draw like Karpov-Kasparov did in 1984. They were not paying for their accomodation or board, it was just a free feeding for them. Imagine if they were to pay for their expenses, do you think Karpov and Kasparov would have been sitting and making 13 move draws?

Or at least there should be aprovision like "first to win six. If no winner after 24 games, the expense of the players will be deducted from the prize, if there is still no winner after the prize money has run out, the match is terminated with the title being vacant."

But in that case, the champion might feel more pressured than the challenger - after all the challenger does not lose anything besides time whereas the champ loses the title. but another provision can be developed to equalise that part as well. Like the champ recieves appearance fee even if the prize money runs out, the champ is still paid whereas the challenger is not paid. But it still does not solve the pressure handicap, the champ still loses the title. He will feel pressured to play for win more than the challenger does, s/he may feel pressured to take even unnecessary risks just to keep his title. Then, the outcome of termination may depend on results. Like * if champ scored 4 wins (after 24 games + as many games as prize pool allowed), the champ retains the title. (even if s/he was losing by 5-4) * If the score is tied with champion scoring 2 or more wins, the champ enjoys draw odds (if the score was 1-1 or 0-0, the title is vacant and the champ is paid appearance fee). * If the champ was leading the score, the champ retains the title but must have scored at least 2 wins to none or 3 wins in total (if he was leading by 1-0 the champ loses the title. If the score is 2-1, the champ again loses the title. The champ retains the title if the score is 2-0 or 3-1 or 3-2 or 3-0). * if the challenger was leading the match (with the champ having scored less than 4), the title is vacant and the challenger is paid some prize money but the champ is not paid appearance fee. * In case the title money does not cover even a single game after 24 games, the match is terminated after the 24 games with all the aforementioned rules reigning.

Under these kind of regulations, you can have both unlimited match and force both sides for win.

Mar-13-21  Sally Simpson: ***

I have ordered a copy.


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