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FIDE World Chess Championship 1948-1990
The FIDE World Championship from 1948 through 1990 was largely a closed contest among the best Soviet players.

Introduction: The FIDE World Championship from 1948 through 1990 was largely a closed contest among the best Soviet players. They dominated the Candidate events and played each other in title matches, often held at Moscow. The Soviet record was interrupted only by the American Fischer in 1970-72 and by the Soviet refugee Korchnoi in 1976-83. • See also Birth of the FIDE World Chess Championship. For full names and years of birth see Famous Chess Players

1948 Match Tournament at The Hague/Moscow; Botvinnik wins the FIDE title: Five hand picked players participated in the first FIDE championship, each playing five games against the other four. Botvinnik won with 14.0 points, 3.0 points ahead of runner-up Smyslov. Botvinnik also beat the four participants in the individual matches -- vs. Smyslov (+1-0=4), vs. Reshevsky (+3-1=1), vs. Keres (+4-1=0), and vs. Euwe (+2-0=3) -- to become the new World Champion. The other players were seeded into the Candidates stage of the next World Championship cycle.

1951 Botvinnik - Bronstein (+5-5=14): Ten players competed in the first Candidates Tournament, a double round robin held at Budapest 1950. Bronstein and Boleslavsky tied for first with 12.0 points. After the first 12 regulation games were tied +2-2=8 in a Moscow playoff match, Bronstein won the tiebreak in the second game. The Botvinnik - Bronstein title match started at Moscow in March 1951. Down one game with two to go, Botvinnik won the 23rd game and drew the 24th to keep the title on a tied match.

1954 Botvinnik - Smyslov (+7-7=10): The 1953 Candidates Tournament, held at Zurich, was a marathon 15 player double round robin. Smyslov (+9-1=18) finished two points ahead of Bronstein (+6-2=20) to challenge Botvinnik at Moscow in March 1954. Botvinnik won three of the first four games, but by the 11th game Smyslov had taken the lead. The match ended tied and Botvinnik again retained his title on a tied match.

1957 Smyslov - Botvinnik (+6-3=13); 1958 Botvinnik - Smyslov (+7-5=11): At the 1956 Amsterdam Candidates Tournament, a ten player double round robin, Smyslov again emerged victorious +6-1=11, 1.5 points ahead of Keres. The title match was held at Moscow, March 1957. By the half way point, Smyslov had a two point lead and won the title after 22 games. The rules allowed a return match, held in Moscow, March 1958. This time Botvinnik started with three straight wins, kept that margin up to the half way point, then coasted home to regain the title after 23 games.

1960 Tal - Botvinnik (+6-2=13); 1961 Botvinnik - Tal (+10-5=6): The 1959 Candidates Tournament, an eight player quadruple round robin, was held in three Yugoslavia cities. Tal (16-4=8) finished 1.5 points ahead of Keres, who won their individual match +3-1=0. At the Moscow title match, March 1960, Tal won the first game, led by two points after 12 games, and won. He was the youngest World Champion in history. The return match was held at Moscow, March 1961. Botvinnik won the first game, led by three points after 12 games, and won the match in 21 games.

1963 Petrosian - Botvinnik (+5-2=15): The 1962 Curacao Candidates Tournament was an eight player quadruple round robin. Petrosian (+8-0=19) finished 0.5 points ahead of Keres and Geller, who were 3.0 points ahead of Fischer. Those three Soviet players played four draws in all matches with each other. The title match was held at Moscow, March 1963. Until this match, the reigning champion had enjoyed a rematch clause, forcing the challenger to succeed in two matches to gain the title. FIDE scrapped the rule for the 1963 match.

1966 Petrosian - Spassky (+4-3=17); 1969 Spassky - Petrosian (+6-4=13): Fischer accused the Soviets of cheating at Curacao and FIDE replaced the Candidates Tournament with a series of knockout matches to produce a single challenger from eight candidates. The final match saw Spassky defeat Tal (+4-1=6) at Tbilisi in 1965. Petrosian won the title match at Moscow, April 1966. Spassky prevailed again in the next series of Candidates matches, beating Korchnoi (+4-1=5) in the Kiev 1968 final. Spassky won his second title match vs. Petrosian Moscow, April 1969.

1972 Fischer - Spassky (+7-2-1F=11); 1975 Karpov - Fischer (by forfeit): After Curacao 1962, Fischer refused to play the 1964-66 cycle and quit the Interzonal in the 1967-69 cycle while leading. He declined to play in the zonal for the 1970-72 cycle, but was specially seeded into the Interzonal, which he won. After defeating Taimanov (+6-0=0), Larsen (+6-0=0), and Petrosian (+5-1=3) in Candidate Matches, he beat Spassky in the title match, stopped playing, and lost the title by forfeit to Karpov, who had beaten Korchnoi (+3-2=19) in the final Candidates Match 1974.

FIDE accepted Fischer's demand: match decided by winning a fixed number of games: This led to marathon matches.

1978 Karpov - Korchnoi (+6-5=21): In 1976, Korchnoi defected from the USSR. The Soviet Federation tried to exclude him from the cycle. FIDE held firm and Korchnoi beat three Soviets. After beating Spassky (+7-4=7) in the final match, Belgrade 1977, Korchnoi lost to Karpov in a rancorous marathon at Baguio City.

1981 Karpov - Korchnoi (+6-2=10): Korchnoi beat two Soviets to face West German Huebner in the Candidates final, Meran 1980. Trailing +3-2=3 with two adjournments, Huebner resigned the match. At the Meran 1981 title match, Karpov won three of the first six games on his way to six wins.

1984 Karpov - Kasparov (KK-I: +5-3=40), 1985 Kasparov - Karpov (KK-II: +5-3=16), 1986 Kasparov - Karpov (KK-III: +5-4=15): Kasparov beat Korchnoi (+4-1=6) in the London 1983 semifinal and Smyslov (+4-0=9) in the Vilnius 1984 final to set the stage for an unprecedented series of title matches. The Moscow 1984 match again required a player to win six games. When Karpov won four of the first nine, the outcome looked certain. Kasparov began to make quick draws, lost one, won one, and then won games 47 & 48, cutting his deficit to two. FIDE President Campomanes abruptly stepped in: 'The match is ended without decision. A new match will start at 0-0.' The rematch, Moscow 1985, reverted to the 'best of 24' rule and Kasparov won. Karpov had been granted the right to a rematch, London / Leningrad 1986, but Kasparov won again.

1987 Kasparov - Karpov (KK-IV: +4-4=16): Since Karpov had been busy with title matches, he was seeded directly into a Candidates final, Linares 1987, where he beat A.Sokolov (+4-0=7). Kasparov won the 24th game of the title match, Seville 1987, to save his crown.

1990 Kasparov - Karpov (KK-V: +4-3=17): For the first time since 1974, Karpov contested a Candidates series. He beat Timman (+4-0=5) in the final, Kuala Lumpur 1990, but lost to Kasparov at New York / Lyon 1990, the last title match between these two titans of chess.