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ccmcacollister 37 ( +1 | -1 )
Fischer-Karpov WC Match? Seeing the names come up in the forum ... Just wondering who you think would have won the F vs K match that never took place, if it had been played?
Personally, i think RJF would have won handily, if in form. Was he? That's what I wonder. Or if perhaps some illness or lack of support might have intervened to give it to the Russian Chess machine. ?
peppe_l 116 ( +1 | -1 )
Difficult question Fischer had been inactive for 3 years. As you pointed out, there is no way to know whether he was "in form" or not. But even then, I believe lots of people underestimate Karpov. Sure, he reached his peak years later, but even then (1974) he was way stronger than Spassky or any other opponent Fischer had ever played.

Also, are we talking about (grossly unfair) rules suggested - or demanded - by Fischer? Karpov to win 10 games or Fischer to win 9 games. Long matches were never Karpov's forte, whereas Fischer was known of his exceptional stamina. And having sort of 2-point advantage helps, too. 24-game match, different case.

So, was Fischer "in form"? He critisized his predecessors for not playing after becoming champions and having rules to help them ("world champion should have no advantage at all" - RJF). This all is exact opposite to his behaviour later on, and to me suggests he WASN'T "in form", let alone willing to play.

But Fischer at his prime vs Karpov 1974/75, I'd bet my money on Fischer. He was more experienced, had less pressure to win (no "beat him or we send you to Siberia" :-))), etc. Karpov was young player who admired Fischer and had only begun to realize how good he really was.

atrifix 149 ( +1 | -1 )
I really doubt that some illness or lack of support was the problem. Fischer again had a chance to play a match in 1976, but made more and more demands, until finally FIDE refused (specifically the one to call it the "Professional" chess championship--Soviet players were not allowed to be professionals in their sport). It is possible that he was out of form, but I don't really think so--earlier breaks from competitive chess in 1964 and 1969 only made him stronger. Granted, those only lasted for a year, but his results following the 1969 break were astonishing. The gap between Fischer and everyone else in the period 1970-72 is unlike anything else since the time of Morphy.

For whatever reason, Fischer avoided playing a match with Karpov, in 1975 and 1976. I think he probably would have won those, although by the time of 1978 or 1981, Karpov would probably have won the title from Fischer anyway due to the age difference. Several people have conjectured that Fischer was afraid to lose to Karpov after taking 3 years off from chess, but it seems highly uncharacteristic to me. Fischer was never afraid to lose to anyone, let alone a Soviet upstart that he had never played before. But Fischer is Fischer.

Incidentally, Karpov has challenged Fischer to a match. Why he did that is anyone's guess. I think it is highly improbable that this match will ever take place.
peppe_l 192 ( +1 | -1 )
Atrifix, good post! If you allow me, here are few comments:

"It is possible that he was out of form, but I don't really think so--earlier breaks from competitive chess in 1964 and 1969 only made him stronger. Granted, those only lasted for a year, but his results following the 1969 break were astonishing."

I have to point out Fischer spent his earlier breaks studying chess. But after becoming champion...hmm. If RJFs intention was to take 3-year break from competitive chess and then defend his title, effectively ducking the match vs Karpov doesn't fit to the picture. Nor it fits to his earlier comments.

"Fischer was afraid to lose to Karpov after taking 3 years off from chess, but it seems highly uncharacteristic to me. Fischer was never afraid to lose to anyone, let alone a Soviet upstart that he had never played before. But Fischer is Fischer."

Fischer's forfeits have been discussed before. Some claim match vs Reshevsky (even score before the last game) and game 3 of WC match vs Spassky (after losing game 1) were related to Fischer being afraid to lose. And then 1975 vs Karpov, of course. But we can only guess. In any case, if we assume Fischer at least observed candidates matches we can be sure he recognized Karpov's capabilities, and defitenitely wasn't underestimating his future opponent. After all, Fischer always respected Spassky, and even though Boris played better than vs him 3 years ago, Karpov beat him easily. Another theory I've heard is based on Karpov's style. For example Fischer never managed to beat Spassky prior 72. Then again, Karpov had crushing score vs Spassky but great difficulties with Korchnoi. Anyway, my guess is for whatever reason, after 72 Fischer lost his interest to play chess and wasn't prepared or willing to play - regardless of opponent.
atrifix 81 ( +1 | -1 )
"I have to point out Fischer spent his earlier breaks studying chess. But after becoming champion...hmm. If RJFs intention was to take 3-year break from competitive chess and then defend his title, effectively ducking the match vs Karpov doesn't fit to the picture. Nor it fits to his earlier comments."

This is true--particularly the 1969 break where he was "plotting his revenge". But I don't think Fischer ever took breaks from studying chess. He certainly wasn't going to ballgames or chasing women. Tal or Capablanca, maybe, but not Fischer.

My theory is that Fischer lost interest because he had nothing left to prove. After he showed that he was worthy of being a World Champion, he had nothing more to gain. But it is only a theory, and Fischer is very difficult to analyze.
bogg 55 ( +1 | -1 )
RJF after the 72 match I think it was GM P. Biyasis that told this RJF story. I don't remember the date but it was well after the 1975 non-match.

The story teller stated that he was one of RJF's last chess friends and he and his wife had RJF over for dinner. They played ten games of chess that evening. The GM's comments about the games was that it didn't surprise him that he lost all of the games but it did surprise him that he didn't understand why he lost any of them! His awed words were roughly "I maybe a weak GM but I am still a GM, I should at least be able to see why I lost a game"!

CTC

armeggedon 51 ( +1 | -1 )
Fischer v. Karpov WCC Fischer's demands if studied more closely were carefully planned out and were fair to be honest. F.I.D.E. was corrupt and under U.S.S.R influence and Fischer was trying to make sure he could not be cheated out of the title once underway. In my opinion he was still easily the strongest player in the world and would have won, though Karpov would have given Fischer a good run for his money I beleive. Please everyone take a good look at the demands Fischer made before rushing to judgement.
wulebgr 111 ( +1 | -1 )
The Fischer Cult Fischer's fans paint him as invincible. However, despite his tremendous chess abilities, he was and is emotionally frail, insecure, and utterly incapable of living with his own success. Fischer was afraid to play Karpov. Although the match would have been close, and a tremendous battle of styles. Karpov would have prevailed.

Fischer wished for immortality, and pulling out of chess was the only way he could accomplish this. Had he played, he would have joined the list of champions whose reign was brief, but distinguished. Karpov, for his part, won a long string of tournaments after winning the championship. His adversaries were all strong players, and Korchnoi might have come closer to winning in 1978 if not for the political pressure the Soviets could bring on an expatriate. Nevertheless, Karpov showed his strength.

Today Karpov continues to play, and to give his time and energy to the world of chess, and to humanity. Fischer is a pathetic ex-champion who continues to chase phantoms and spin out wacko ideas. Indeed, chess-960 might have a bit more respect if Fisher would leave it alone.
velvetvelour 22 ( +1 | -1 )
Wulebgr doth speaketh the truth, gentlemen. And if Fischer were to play any GM in the top 20 today in match play he would get severely mauled to boot, being out of the loop of theoretical developments and plain old practice for 30+ years.
peppe_l 121 ( +1 | -1 )
"Fischer's demands if studied more closely were carefully planned out and were fair to be honest. F.I.D.E. was corrupt and under U.S.S.R influence and Fischer was trying to make sure he could not be cheated out of the title once underway. In my opinion he was still easily the strongest player in the world and would have won, though Karpov would have given Fischer a good run for his money I beleive. Please everyone take a good look at the demands Fischer made before rushing to judgement."

I have read them. May I remind you every single one of his demands was accepted, except the built-in two-point advantage. I have hard time understanding how anyone can say such rule is fair. One opinion seems to be "look, I know you guys are going to screw me, so I screw you first to make sure everything is even" :-) This particular demand (built-in two-point advantage) defitenitely wasn't designed to prevent Russians from "cheating" Fischer, that's for sure.

I am not sure if Karpov was going to win the match, but wulegbr makes one excellent point: quitting before losing to someone (Karpov? Kasparov?) made Fischer even greater legend than he already was.