1975 World Chess Championship
Anatoly Karpov (USSR) vs. Bobby Fischer (USA)
Manila, Philippines
April 3, 1975

Conditions:  First to win 10 Games.

Result:  Anatoly Karpov becomes the 12th World Champion.

  • The fallout to this non-match hasn't died down to this day, but I (Graeme) will attempt to explain it, giving as much credit due each side, as possible. The two primary issues involved were the question of the Limited Match vs. the Unlimited Match, and the question of whether or not the defending champion should have any built-in advantage.

  • Upon becoming World Champion, Fischer refused to play again under the Best of 24 format that had been in place since 1951. He demanded a return to the Unlimited duration Match format last used in 1937, in which a certain number of wins must be scored in order to win the match, no matter how long it took. Specifically, he demanded to play under the format used in the 1896/7 Steinitz-Zukertort Match in which 10 Wins were required to win the match, draws not counting, no limit to the possible number of games, and with the match being abandoned as drawn if the score reached 9-9. To win the match, therefore, required a minimum margin of victory of 2 points (10-8 or better). The main difference between Fischer's rules and the 1886 rules were that in 1886 neither player was regarded as defending champion, therefore a drawn match result would have meant that neither player was World Champion. Under Fischer's rules, the challenger would be required to win by 2 points to win the title, while the champion needed only to break even to retain it.

  • In fact, Fischer had expressed interest in such a format even before becoming World Champion. He had privately agreed to an informal match in 1966 under these rules, though this was never played. In 1971, at his urging that draws should not count in championship play, FIDE voted to scrap the Best of 24 format for 1975, and replaced it with a 6 wins, draws not counting, no limit match, thus abolishing both the Limited Match and the champion's advantage in one fell swoop.

    Fischer did not believe that 6 wins was enough, and that thought it should be increased to 10. FIDE voted to do this, but, fearful of a long match, also voted to limit the match to a maximum of 36 games, resulting in a very different match format than that which Fischer had wanted.

  • The different match systems deserve a little elucidation. There had been four basic match systems used in World Championship Play:
    1) Wins Required 1886, 1892, 1894, 1896/7, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1927
    2) Wins AND Points Required 1929 1934 1935 1937
    3) Points Required 1889 1890/1 1910 1951 1954 1957 1958 1960 1961 1963 1966 1969 1972
    4) Wins OR Points Required (used in 1921, and in the 1974 Candidates).
  • The main difference between these four systems is that the first two have a Wins Requirement, the last two do not. In a Best of 24, Points required match, with a draw counting as of a point, there's no guarantee of seeing any number of wins in the match. It's even theoretically possible to score the full 12 points (and retain the World Title) without winning a single game, by registering 24 straight draws. Likewise, in a Wins Or Points Match, a certain number of points take the match. A player may end the match prematurely by registering a certain number of wins, but is not required to do so.
  • Fischer wanted a Wins Requirement, not just a Wins Option, and any limit on the possible number of games removes the requirement to register wins. At the time, despite the fact that the draw percentage in FIDE World Championship matches was less than 55%, the spectre of a champion retaining his title without winning a game loomed large in some quarters. Fischer thought that restoring Wins Requirements would counter the problem of growing numbers of draws.

  • Unfortunately, it was that same fear of draws that led other quarters to shy away from Unlimited Matches, for fear that a Match might drag on interminably before producing a result. Though three "10 Wins Required" championship matches had been played in the 19th century, the longest going 22 games, the number of draws in Grandmaster Play had increased appreciably since that time. The Pure Wins format had never again been used after the 1927 match, in which it took Alekhine 34 games to score a mere 6 wins. Alekhine's next 4 matches did have a Wins Requirement, and a Points Requirement too, but there had been no Wins Requirements at all since his last match in 1937. Just as some quarters were afraid of a champion retaining his title without winning a game, others were afraid of an Unlimited Match dragging on for 6 months or more, and turning into a test of endurance, rather than chess skill.
  • (Ironically, the first time that a Championship Match had been limited due to fear of draws was 1889. See Steinitz's introduction to this match, elsewhere on this site).

  • When FIDE offered Fischer a "Wins Or Points" Match instead of a "Wins" Match, he resigned the World Title, on June 27, 1974. Negotiations continued anyway, hoping that a deal could be struck that would get Fischer to play after all. Eventually, FIDE gave in and agreed to the 10 Wins Unlimited Duration Match that Fischer had wanted.

  • However, Fischer refused to play anyway, because though FIDE had agreed to the 10 Wins format, they did not agree to the Tie Clause. Although Fischer had denounced Tie Clauses while still the challenger, and promised to abolish them once becoming champion, he refused to play the 1975 match unless FIDE agreed to a clause that allowed the match to be abandoned as drawn, with the Champion retaining the title, if the score reached 9-9.

  • There was much debate over the tie clause. The Champion's advantage was semi-traditional (although the same could have been said of the Best of 24 format at that point). Most of the previous 26 World Championship matches had had some form of Champion's advantage, though as many as 6 of them may not have. The problem though, was that Fischer's tie clause required the Challenger to win by 2 points (10-8 minimum) to win the title, rather than one point, as in the old system. Rather than abolishing the champion's advantage, as he promised, Fischer had tried to increase it.

  • Though Fischer's conditions were not unprecedented, having been used for both Lasker-Steinitz matches (there was also a 9-9 tie clause in the 1886 Steinitz-Zukertort Match, although in that case it did not benefit either player over the other, since neither one was considered the defending champion), opinion was largely against it for a variety of reasons. Some of them include:

    a) The tie clause was widely perceived as unfair and the majority of Grandmasters were against it. Robert Byrne described it as "absolutely stark naked cheating", Bent Larsen called it "the first unethical thing Fischer has done." 2-point tie clauses had only been used in the Imperial Championship days, when the champion could name any conditions he wished, fair or otherwise, against a challenger.

    b) Fischer was widely regarded as unreliable, and had a long history of abandoning events. A few examples; walking out and forfeiting his 1961 match to Reshevsky over a scheduling dispute; breaking a promise to play for the 1968 US Olympic team over a dispute about the lighting; breaking off negotiations for a match with Botvinnik at the last minute when the organizers refused to change the format from 18 games to 6 wins, draws not counting; nearly walking out of the 1972 Championship over dozens of trivial points, walking out of the 1967 Interzonal in mid-tournament over a scheduling dispute, and abandoning all hope of playing for the title in 1969; and in fact, refusing to play in the 1969 Zonal over a dispute about its length, and so having to have his spot in the 1970 Interzonal handed to him by one of the other contestants.
          That last example is particularly instructive because even on that occasion, Fischer's unreliability made US officials less inclined to bend for him. As GM Isaac Kashdan wrote about that event: "If enlarging the tournament would assure Fischer's participation, I might say go ahead with it.... But what if the schedule were rearranged, quite a task at short notice, and Fischer then went to New York just in time to play, and then objected to the lights, or the size of the playing area, or the hum of the spectators or the director's manner or some other point, major or minor?"
          With no real assurance that Fischer would play either way, why compromise a matter of principle for him?

    c) Fischer had broken his word to abolish the champion's advantage, costing him credibility and adding to his reputation of unreliability,

    d) Fischer had apparently retired after winning the title in 1972. He not only didn't playin the 1975 Championship match, he didn't play in anything else either until 20 years later. Leading some to suspect that the tie clause was merely an excuse to get out of playing.

    e) Fischer himself had called the tie clause unimportant and unlikely to be invoked, yet refused to play without it, despite having gotten the pure Wins format, which was supposed to be the important thing. This reinforced the opinion that it was all an excuse not to play.

    e) And most importantly of all, Fischer never made any attempt to sell his proposals, either to FIDE or the American Public. Demanded them, yes. Sold them, no. His attitude was essentially "Gimme, or I'm not playing", but he never went to bat for the format and tried to explain why it was a good idea. Neither did he try to prove that the Pure Wins format could work in modern chess by actually playing the match.

    f) Finally of course was old-fashioned politics. The Soviet Federation, naturally, just wanted the title back, one way or the other, and if Fischer were foolish enough to hand it to them without a fight, they weren't going to lose any sleep over it.

  • Eventually FIDE agreed to all of Fischer's demands except for the 9-9 Tie Clause. However, Fischer had refused to negotiate on any of his points, and, keeping his word on that much at least, the April 1, 1975 deadline passed with no word from him, after which he was forfeited. His challenger, Anatoly Karpov was named the new World Champion on April 3.

    Date Event
    October 1966 US Champion Fischer and Soviet Champion Leonid Stein privately agree to play a match to 10 wins, draws not counting, no limit to the potential number of games, with the match declared a tie if the score reaches 9-9. This is the same format that Fischer later insisted on for the 1975 World Championship. Due to scheduling problems, the match never takes place.
    September 4, 1971 At Fischer's behest, the 42nd FIDE Congress at Vancouver votes to scrap the Best of 24 World Championship format after 1972, and to play the 1975 Match to 6 wins, draws not counting, with no limit on the possible number of games, and no provision for a drawn match. They also vote that the 3 rounds of the 1974 Candidates will be played to 3, 4 and 5 wins, with a maximum game limit to be set by the 1972 FIDE Congress.
    October 25, 1971 Fischer-Petrosian Match ends. Fischer becomes official challenger to Spassky in 1972.
    July 11, 1972 Fischer-Spassky Match begins
    September 22, 1972 Bobby Fischer Day in New York.
    September 23, 1973 44th FIDE Congress at Helsinki. Fischer urges Win Requirement for 1975 to be increased from 6 to 10, with a 9-9 tie clause
    June, 1974 45th FIDE Congress at Helsinki votes to impose a limit on the number of games in the 1975 Match.
    June 26, 1974 FIDE votes for a 10 Wins or Best of 36 format for the 1975 Championship Match, with the champion retaining the title in the event of an 18-18 tie.
    June 27, 1974 Fischer resigns as World Champion
    June 29, 1974 FIDE upholds its decision for a Limited Match, despite Fischer's resignation.
    August 5, 1974 Telephone conversation between Fischer and Ed Edmondson. Fischer expresses total rejection of FIDE for the vote of June 26, but expressses no intention to play a match outside their auspices.
    August 16, 1974 USCF Policy Board votes 19-18 to consider withdrawal from FIDE, if the situation warrants.
    August 30, 1974 Telephone conversation between Fischer and Ed Edmondson. Fischer indicates a possible willingness to play under FIDE auspices, but only if all conditions are met.
    September 11, 1974 Several FIDE delegates express a willingness to compromise on the Unlimited Match, but not the flat 9-9 tie clause. Dr. Euwe suggests as a compromise position that in the event of a 9-9 tie, a 10 game overtime period should be played, with the champion retaining the title in the event of a 5 points to 5 tie. In this way, Fischer could have both the Unlimited Match, and a champion's advantage.
    September 16, 1974 Karpov-Korchnoi Candidates Final begins
    October 1974 Controversial article by Fred Cramer in Chess Life & Review, attacking the FIDE Delegates for the June vote. Reader reaction to the article is 2:1 against. Former US Champion Arnold Denker expresses shock at its unfairness.
    October 1, 1974 Private letter from Ed Edmondson to Fischer, supporting him on the Unlimited Match, but urging him to renounce the 9-9 tie clause, and reminding Fischer of his own previous claims about the unfairness of such advantages.
    October 8, 1974 Phone conversation between Ed Edmondson and Fischer about the letter of October 1. Fischer expresses agreement with all of Edmondson's points, but nevertheless refuses to back down. However he tells Edmondson that if he is allowed the 2-point tie clause this once, that he would seek to abolish all Champion's advantage in future matches.
    October 29, 1974 Conversation between Euwe and Edmondson. Euwe believes that the USSR would prefer to play the match than receive the title by forfeit, but that they refuse to make any concessions for fear that this would be followed by more demands.
    November, 1974 Fischer writes letter to Larry Evans' column, explaining his position. His defense of the 9-9 tie clause in this letter contradicts his previous statement to Edmondson that he agreed with Edmondson's arguments against it (though most likely the letter to Evans had been written before October 8).
    November 23, 1974 Candidates Final Ends; Karpov becomes Official Challenger
    January 1, 1975 FIDE opens the bids for the match. There are only three: Mexico City - $387,500. Milan - $426,250. Manila - $5,000,000. Karpov and Fischer are asked to list the sites in their order of preference, by February 17, with FIDE regulations stating that the winner of the match gets 5/8 of the purse, the loser 3/8. The Manila bid is the second highest purse in the history of sport.
    February 17, 1975 With Fischer preferring Manila, and Karpov preferring Milan, FIDE President Euwe selects Manila as the site of the match.
    March 3, 1975 Paul Klein of Ecuador (Fischer's choice) is named Chief Arbiter of the match. The Assistant Arbiter's are to be Dr. Wilfried Dorazil of Austria, and Dr. Enrico Paoli of Italy (the only man who appeared on both player's lists of candidates for Assistant Arbiter). Soviet Federation protests that Fischer's choice for Chief Arbiter was accepted rather than Dorazil, Lothar Schmid, or Alberic O'Kelly (Karpov's three choices), and also objects to Manila being chosen as the match site, on the technicality that Ed Edmondson (a FIDE Bureau Member), had notified Euwe of the choice rather than Fischer directly. Soviet Federation also releases a letter signed by 7 of its top GMs, attacking the FIDE Extraordinary General Assembly about to convene on the grounds that it is intended to secure more advantages for Fischer. More than one of the signatories later express very different sentiments about the matter in private.
    March 18-20, 1975 35 Member Nations (6 more than the 29 required) call for a FIDE Extraordinary General Assembly to try to save the match.
    March 19, 1975 By a vote of 37-33, FIDE votes to accept Fischer's demand for an Unlimited Match. The match is now to be won by the first person to score 10 Wins, draws not counting, with no limit on the possible number of games, as Fischer had wanted. However, FIDE does not agree to the 9-9 tie clause, which would require the challenger to win by at least 2 points (10-8 or better). The Tie Clause is now the only remaining point of contention between the parties.
    April 1, 1975 The deadline for both players to confirm their availability passes, with no word from Fischer.
    April 3, 1975 Karpov is named new World Champion.
    June 1, 1975 Date the Match was to have begun.

  • An Ironic Aside: Ironically, the first hint that Fischer might not play in 1975, came in the October 1972 issue of Chess Life & Review, the very same issue that announced his victory over Spassky. In an article where Anthony Saidy interviewed Bent Larsen, who predicted his own victory in the 1975 Match, the following exchange occurred:

    Saidy: What if Fischer does not agree to FIDE conditions and refuses to play in 1975? The negotiations for the match were not well conducted.
    Larsen: If that happens, first I'll take the FIDE title, then I'll beat Fischer afterwards. Why didn't some wealthy patrons long ago organize a professional world championship?

  • Postscript: Despite Fischer's abrogation of principle, the Pure Wins unlimited match format was used without him in the next three World Championship Matches (though with a requirement of 6 Wins, rather than 10). The 1978 match seemed to confirm the fears about the system, lasting 32 games and becoming the second longest World Championship Match ever. The 1981 match was a blowout, and was concluded in a very reasonable amount of time. But in the 1984/5 event, all the nightmare scenarios came true. The match lasted almost 1 times longer than any previous match, and was abandoned without result after 48 games. The Unlimited Match format had actually encouraged more passive play, rather than discouraged it. A certain number of of Wins were required, yes, but with no time limit in which to achieve them, there was nothing to prevent the person trailing in the match from biding his time and waiting for the opponent to make the first mistake. At least in the old system, time was always running out for one player or the other, giving at least some incentive to try to score wins quickly. After the 1984/5 debacle, win requirements were put on the back shelf and have never been used again, to date.

  • Post-Postscript: As mentioned, though the percentage of draws in Post World War II World Championship matches was a very reasonable 55% up through Fischer's 1972 victory, it has risen to 70% in matches played since that time. In the 2000 and 2004 matches, a mere two victories were scored by the person who walked out of the match with the title. So, both sets of fears, Fischers and his opponents, have proved to have some basis in fact (though it should be pointed out, that at the rate of draws seen in the 2004 match, it would have taken 70 games for both players to get 10 wins, under Fischer's conditions).

  • Post-Post-Postscript:
    Special Feature: The Kalme After The Storm

    A particularly bizarre footnote to the whole incident is an article written by PHD mathematician and Senior Master Charles Kalme, and published in the November 1975 issue of Chess Life and Review, the longest article that magazine had ever published at the time, (and maybe still is) defending Fischer's match conditions. In this article, Kalme adopted an odd set of suppositions, tried to show a pattern, and shamelessly tossed out data willy-nilly whenever it didn't show what he wanted it to show.

    The majority of the article was spent defending the Pure Wins system (despite the fact that FIDE had eventually agreed to it). Kalme believed that there were fixed and unalterable "Draw Expectations" in a chess match. He believed that these expectations were caused, not by the era in which the match was played, or by the playing styles of the two players, or by how close in strength they were. No, he believed that there was a fixed draw expectation that was determined solely by match conditions, and that an examination of the previous 26 Championship matches (at least the ones that he liked), could tell us what those expectations are. In short, he believed that a 10 Wins championship match held in 1975 shouldn't last longer than about 23 games, because that's about how long matches played under the same system in the 19th century lasted.

    Kalme's theory was that a Pure Wins match system encouraged aggressive play. Since a person has to get a certain number of wins eventually, there's no reason not to go gunning for them as quickly as possible (he was unable to imagine the strategies employed in the 1984/5 match, obviously). On the other hand, he claimed, a Points match encourages passive play, because whoever is leading will be more predisposed to play for a draw. He claimed that an examination of the data demonstrated this, but his handling of said data was so manipulative as to make it worthless.

    Starting with an already small statistical sample, Kalme whittled it down still further. The first to go was the 1927 Match, a Pure Wins match with 74% draws. Kalme couldn't begin to explain why the match format hadn't encouraged aggressive play in this case, so he threw the match out, calling it a statistical anomaly, unlikely to be repeated. (Remember that this was written before the 1978 and 1984/5 matches were played).

    The next to go was the 1889 Steinitz-Tchigorin match, a Best of 20 affair that had a mere 1 draw in 17 games. Like 1927, this directly contradicted Kalme's claims, so he made an excuse and threw that match out too, claiming to be unsure about what format it was played under. (You can read Steinitz's own words, elsewhere on this site, attesting to the fact that it was a Best of 20, though this is hardly necessary, since the fact that the lone draw occurred in the final game proves conclusively that the match was not played under a Pure Wins format.

    With the remaining data, Kalme discovered that in the late 19th and early 20th century, when Win Requirements were common, there were fewer draws, while in Post-World War II matches with no win requirements, the draw percentage was much higher. One might well point out that there were not only fewer draws in Championship Matches in those days, there were also fewer draws everywhere else, too! But Kalme was firmly convinced that this didn't matter, and that, given the same match rules, Karpov and Korchnoi would be no more likely to draw a game than Steinitz and Tchigorin. (He never actually demonstrated a causal relation, just thought that it stood to reason, which makes the whole argument rather circular) No matter who the players, he thought a 10 Wins match played in 1975 shouldn't have many more draws than a 10 Wins match played in 1875, which means Fischer was right all along!

    But the data manipulation didn't stop there. Kalme went on to examine the FIDE World Championship matches, and concluded that they followed one of two patterns: either an early shootout with lots of decisive games, followed by a string of draws, OR an early string of draws with a late shootout of decisive games. To show this, he artificially divided up all FIDE matches into two stages, one of which was a quiet stage, the a decisive one. He was not at all consistent in doing this. When does Stage 2 in a 24 game match begin? You might imagine that it would be Game 13, but not a bit of it. For Kalme, Stage 2 might have begun any time between Game 13 and Game 20, depending on what fit his presuppositions the best. But even fudging the data in this way, there was one match that couldn't be made to fit. The 1961 Botvinnik-Tal match had lots of decisive games all the way through, no matter how you divided it. So, Kalme tossed THIS one out too, making a total of THREE entire matches tossed out for failing to fit the desired pattern.

    With his data sample suffering from his own ravages, Kalme wanted to add to it a bit, and he saw a match that was not a World Championship match, but which he loved so much, that he couldn't resist including it, namely the Karpov-Korchnoi Finals match from the 1974 Candidates. Though this match had been an extremely aggressive one, with lots of long, hard-fought games (nearly 50 moves per game, on the average), that didn't matter. What mattered was the results. Despite the hard-fought nature of the games, they produced 19 draws out of 24, largely due to how evenly matched the two players were. But it was Kalme's claim that a "Wins OR Points" match produced even more draws than a Pure Points match, so he brought this one in to prove the point. However, in bringing it in, he ignored the other six 1974 Candidates Matches, that "proved" the exact opposite!

    At this point, Kalme's argument was in ruins. He'd begun with an extremely shaky premise, that there were fixed Draw Expectations determined by Match Conditions, and then attempted to prove the point by simply throwing out any data that he didn't happen to care for. And he still hadn't even touched on the point that had actually killed the match! The 9-9 tie clause, remember that? Well, Kalme did too. Eventually. Just before the end of the article, he remembered it, and spluttered a bit about how the Champion's advantage was traditional, and claimed that Fischer's 2-point tie clause was actually less of an advantage than the 1-point clause in the old system. To argue this, he examined two similar situations: a) an 8-8 tie in Fischer's system versus b) an 11-11 score in a Best of 24 match. In a), the Challenger must win the next 2 decisive games to win the title, while in b) the Challenger only has to win 1, but it MUST be the very next game. a) is easier than b) said Kalme, so you see, though Fischer had broken his promise to abolish the champion's advantage, he'd actually asked for a smaller one than had existed before. This argument was completely subjective, and a matter of taste, and didn't quite manage to obscure the fact that the Challenger still had to win by 2 points in Fischer's system.

    He also claimed that we had to have a 2-point clause, because after a long struggle, the outcome of a single game was "irrelevant" in determining who was the better player. In this, Kalme committed an elementary logical and mathematical blunder, for in claiming, in effect that the relevance of a single game was zero, it would logically follow that any margin of victory however large, would also be meaningless. In other words, one game is meaningless because 1x0=0. But similarly 2x0 also equals zero. So also does 10x0=0, so by Kalme's reasoning, a 10-0 victory would be meaningless in determining who is the better player, since it would be composed of 10 meaningless games. In actual fact, a 1 point margin of victory must have some meaning, in order for a 2 point margin to have more. Perhaps not as much meaning as one might like, but that's a subjective question, not a mathematical one, as Kalme tried to present it as being.

    In addition, as Kalme had done so many times in the article already, he ignored inconvenient historical precedent when making his claim. We needed a 2 point margin of victory because only that would show for sure who the better player is, while a 1 point margin does not. But does it really? Botvinnik showed in 1958 and 1961, that it was possible to lose a match by 3 or 4 points, and still come back and beat the same guy a year later. So, even a 10-8 victory in Fischer's system doesn't really prove that the Challenger was better. Maybe we need a 10 Wins match with a 5-5 tie clause, forcing the Challenger to win by 10-4 or better, to be really sure that the better player won. The problem with that proposal is the same as the problem with Fischer's proposal, that it ignores basic fairness in the process. The Champion does not have the same obligation to prove his superiority that the Challenger does, despite getting to call himself "the best". Making the Challenger win by one point when the Champion doesn't have to do the same is bad enough. Any more than that is simply not acceptable to too many people.

    Kalme's article was supposed to be continued in the next month's issue, but the plug was pulled, and the article never appeared. The letters column in the March 1976 issue featured a slew of feedback on Kalme's article, much positive, and much negative. Amusingly, most of the people who absolutely loved the article still disagreed with him on the one point that actually mattered: the 9-9 tie clause. But the best rebuttal to the article came from a man who still writes a column in Chess Life to this day; GM Andy Soltis, whose letter is good enough to bear repeating in full:

    The logic of [Kalme's] piece folds up when you consider a sentence like "Once the match stands even after a long struggle, the outcome of a single game is irrelevant to determining who is the better player." To buy that you have to conclude that other sporting contests - almost all of whom recognize that ties sometimes occur and that they have to be broken by a margin of one game - are somehow unfair.

    Aside from aerobatic leaps in logic, the piece annoyed me because it assumes that playing styles - the ingrained personalities of the players - are just so much plastic decoration to be remolded as often as the match rules are revised. To wit: "We have already seen . . . how this match system virtually forced both Karpov and Korchnoi to play cautiously . . . " It's odd that other players who found themselves under the same match conditions were not "virtually forced" to play cautiously. Anyone who believes that Karpov was playing differently in that match than he has in the past is kidding himself.

    One of the few players who actually did change his playing style for a match was Alekhine in 1927. But that had nothing to do with match rules. The conditions were six-wins, draws not counting. This insures fighting chess, Kalme tells us. But Alekhine played the most conservative chess of his life in 1927 against Capablanca because the Russian's natural enterprising style had failed miserably in previous meetings. That is why there were 25 draws in 34 games.

    And aside from the logic and the assumptions, the most disturbing note to the Kalme piece is the implication that we, the chess public, didn't really try to understand Bobby - that what Bobby wanted was obviously true and fair but we intentionally closed our minds to it. But just how were we to understand the "9-9" issue, the single point of controversy that cost us a world championship and gravely affected the growth of chess in this country? Certainly Bobby didn't try to explain it to us. His communications with the outside world on "9-9" have been confined largely to his telegrams to the FIDE meetings at Helsinki and Nice.

    And what about Bobby's representatives? Fred Cramer mentioned "9-9" in his lengthy reports on Helsinki (Jan. 1974 CL&R) and Nice (Oct. 1974). There was no explanation whatsoever in either report of what the controversy was about, or how strongly the champion felt about the matter or of what the rest of the world was saying. Cramer confined his Nice report - when it had become clear to a very few insiders that "9-9" was the key sticking point - to the comment in a footnote that the issue was not debated at Nice. Period. So much for Fischer's explanation of the issue to the 60,000 plus members of the USCF.

    Now, six months after the April 1 deadline, 15 months after Nice, nearly two years since Helsinki, we are given a statistics lesson and told that we misunderstood the whole matter.

    Andy Soltis
    New York, N.Y.

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