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World Chess Championship
1975 Fischer forfeits to Karpov

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. - A.Karpov, Karpov on Karpov

Fischer demanded that the match be won by the first player to win ten games, with no limit to the number of games. The champion would retain the title in the event of a 9-9 score. This meant, of course, that the challenger would need to win the match by a score of 10-8.

FIDE's rules were that the reigning champion retained the title in the event of a 12-12 tie after 24 games. The same rules governing World Championship matches had been in place since the 1949 FIDE Congress in Paris. They were confirmed at the 1974 Congress in Nice.

Fischer claimed that his proposal was fairer to the challenger than FIDE's limit of 24 games. In a letter to Larry Evans published November 1974 in Chess Life, Fischer wrote:-

Steinitz, Tchigorin, Lasker (too), Gunsberg, Zukertort, etc. all played under the ten win system I proposed (and some matches with the 9-9 tie clause). Yet the Russians pretend that I'm asking for an UNPRECEDENTED advantage. Incidentally, Larry, the Capa-Alekhine match DID have a draw clause at 5-5. Yes, Alekhine had to win by 6-4 to take the title just the same as my match proposal.

In the same issue of Chess Life, editor Burt Hochberg quoted Fischer:-

The whole idea is to make sure the players draw blood by winning games, and the spectators get their money's worth.

and then commented:-

The rules say that draws do not count in the scoring, but they certainly do count as games played, and every draw in a limited match brings the leader's ultimate victory closer. Fischer is correct, in our opinion, and the current [Karpov-Korchnoi Candidates semifinal] match proves it. If FIDE does not discourage draws by forcing the players to win, chess may die the draw-death predicted by Capablanca many years ago. The public deserves a fighting match, and it is FIDE's obligation to set the rules that will make it possible. Taking a cue from Bobby, some enterprising businessman should produce a button reading: DRAW BLOOD, NOT GAMES.

Ed Edmondson of the USCF negotiated on Fischer's behalf. An extraordinary FIDE Congress, called at Bergen-aan-Zee in Holland in March 1975, refused to change FIDE's decision.

Fischer did not respond to the FIDE invitation to play the match under FIDE conditions. Karpov was declared World Champion on 1 April 1975. It is Karpov's curious fate that he has never beaten a reigning world champion in a match for the title.

Underlying the controversy is the question of whether the champion should have any advantage in a tie match.

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