Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fischer?

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Dashiell Shaw
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Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fischer?

Post by Dashiell Shaw » Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:53 pm

Hello, I am a 184 standard graded chess player and have just finished my first year of sixth form (year 12). This summer I have opted to do an extended project, which consists of a 5,000 word report. My chosen topic is: "Who would have won had Fischer and Karpov played a world chess championship match in 1975". To assist me with my project I would very much appreciate opinions on the question itself and also suggestions and ideas on how best to analyse this problem.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:55 pm

I'd reckon Fischer in '75 (assuming the counterfactual scenario where he'd actually remained an active player), but Karpov in a rematch in '78 or '81.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:57 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:I'd reckon Fischer in '75 (assuming the counterfactual scenario where he'd actually remained an active player), but Karpov in a rematch in '78 or '81.
That's not 5000 words... :D

James Coleman
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by James Coleman » Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:58 pm

If you get hold of My Great Predecessors Volume 4 you can read what Kasparov had to say about it.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by Paul Cooksey » Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:58 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:I'd reckon Fischer in '75 (assuming the counterfactual scenario where he'd actually remained an active player), but Karpov in a rematch in '78 or '81.
I think this is the main stream opinion, certainly Dashiell will want to look at what Kasparov says in his Great Predecessors series.

PS Jack - but surely the key question is the match against Summerscale :)

John Cox
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by John Cox » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:05 pm

Kramnik gave an opinion in a piece on the web somewhere; IIRC he says he thinks Karpov would have had at least equal chances.

TBH though I think it's a more than usually silly question, since motivation and preparation count for so much in matches, and you need a more detailed counterfactual than 'if Fischer had kept on playing to deal with that kind of thing'.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by Paul Cooksey » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:09 pm

John Cox wrote:TBH though I think it's a more than usually silly question, since motivation and preparation count for so much in matches, and you need a more detailed counterfactual than 'if Fischer had kept on playing to deal with that kind of thing'.
Fair point. I usually take these questions to mean Fischer 1970 vs Karpov 1975 vs modern 2500 etc. But if we are looking at the real passage of time, the evidence is Fischer won't play, and not clear what factors we have to change so he does.

MikeTasker
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by MikeTasker » Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:29 pm

Hi Dashiell.Going on the grades Fischer was around 2800 when he became
world champion,Karpov about 2700 in 1975 (both would probaly be higher in
todays grades due to inflation).So Fischer would be a pretty big favorite,
assuming he had kept active,and you believe in the predictive powers of
the ratings.I don't think you can really say who 'would of won' though, just
who had the better chances.Even a much weaker player has some small chance
to win,although this goes down the longer the match.

Dashiell Shaw
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by Dashiell Shaw » Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:33 pm

Thanks for the input. I do have both volumes 4 & 5 of My Great Predecessors already. Any other book suggestions are very welcome.

It's impossible to work out how Fischer would have developed between 1972 and 1975 had he remained active. So the question is probably Fischer 1972 v Karpov 1975.

The assumption in the question is that if FIDE/Karpov agreed to Fischer's conditions (the 9-9 rule and the unlimited number of games as opposed to a 36 game limit) then Fischer would have played, but with limited time for preparation.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:17 pm

That's another problem, then: Karpov would never have agreed to Fischer keeping the title at 9-9. So you are asking "what would happen if one mentally ill person incapable of playing chess at the highest level at that time had nonetheless played, against a resolute opponent who is assumed to have agreed to a condition which in fact neither he nor FIDE would ever have found acceptable".

Sounds more like a Blackadder line than an essay title. The match didn't happen because it couldn't happen. I'd love to know who would have won had the match been possible, but since it wasn't I don't think that we can hope to work it out!

Matthew Turner
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by Matthew Turner » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:02 pm

It is hard to argue with Mike's observation

"Going on the grades Fischer was around 2800 when he became world champion,Karpov about 2700 in 1975". So Fischer would be a pretty big favorite

An interesting wrinkle for an essay is that both Fischer and Karpov are kind of caricature figures. Fischer the maverick and Karpov the unquestioning adherent of the Soviet statist ideal. For some reason these stereotypes lead us to draw completely illogical conclusion about their chess. One thing that people find surprising is that Karpov was a very very good rapid player. Had a match being played at more modern time controls (or even rapidplay) I think this would have greatly favoured Karpov.

Colin Patterson
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by Colin Patterson » Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:03 pm

I did hear somewhere that the games of all the world champions had been run through Rybka or some such prog and the results showed that Fischer hit the top ranking move more often than anyone else, including Karpov and Kasparov. No idea where you would find such info, but it sounded interesting, if a little meaningless.

Perhaps if we could target only the critical moments/turning points of a game and then somehow factor in the strength of the opponent etc etc. - could something measurable/meaningful be produced? A future BSc/MSc or PhD project for Dashiell maybe?

Geoff Chandler
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by Geoff Chandler » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:06 am

Hi Dashiell

I posted this a while back.

No problem with you ignoring my comments but the link leading
to the Kramnik interview you should read.

------------------------------------------

In my opinion, Fishcer would have beaten Karpov in 1975 because
Karpov was not yet Kaprov and Karpov went to pieces in the '78 match
when the pressure and the off board antics flared up.
He allowed 5-2 to become 5-5 within 4 games.

Karpov I fear would has got caught up with the occassion and Fischer
who was at the time the best player in the world, would have out done him
both off and over the board.

The replay in 78 and Karpov without a doubt would have qualified would
have been different and then I'd tip the scales to Karpov.

After getting the title by default Kaprov's tournament success was incredible
as if he was showing the world that he was a worthy champion.
(and he was...but he never had to face Fischer.)

That was an opinion I always held until I saw this:

http://www.kramnik.com/eng/interviews/g ... aspx?id=61

by Kramnik.

Kramnik mentions Karpov had a trump card. Geller!

He had a plus v Fischer and he could have tooled up Karpov in opening prep.
Karpov would have listened.

Geller was one of Spassky's second in '72 but Boris was wee bitty lazy in his prep.
When advised to look at some Queens Gambit lines by his team Boris said;

"Fischer would never play that." (oops) and went off to play tennis.

The Geller angle is something I never considered so now I'm not 100%
sure Fischer would have won, neither is Kramnik.

Kramnik in the linked article states:

" As for level of play Fischer would have been superior to Karpov. However,
if Karpov could have gained a real edge in the opening, the match would have
seen an even contest."

--------------------------------------------------------

Also, you might want to have a word with the English delegate who was at the FIDE
meeting to give some background as to why the match never took place.

I recently had an interesting conversation with Craig Pritchett who was the Scottish rep
at the FIDE meeting. Very enlightening.

You can add the Craig Pritchett coincidence.
In the 1974 Olympiad bc (Before Computers) Bobby sent analysis to the American team
showing a missed win for Craig in his game with Karpov.
Proof that Bobby was still in the game and was very aware of what Karpov was doing.

Another angle may be using Spassky as a yardstick. Counting OTB wins only.
Bobby beat him 6 - 2 in '72 and Karpov beat 4 -1 in '74. (very close).
Any arguments that Spassky was on the wane can be countered by the fact
Spassky qualified for the candidates in '77 losing to Korchnoi 7-4.

Great pity the match never took place. It would have been very even and quite an event.

Good Luck

"Going on the grades Fischer was around 2800 when he became world champion,
Karpov about 2700 in 1975". So Fischer would be a pretty big favorite."

I'm not convinced that numbers decide world title matches.
Infact they don't play any part at all.

John Cox
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by John Cox » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:54 am

In any case grades are measures of relative, not absolute, strength. It's a vulgar error to think that 2800 in 1972 was necessarily stronger than 2700 in 1975 in absolute terms. Retrospective ratings give people like Lasker 2800 ratings; now clearly they were great players, but they just didn't play the game as well as say Anand does now for obvious reasons.

I thought Capablanca actually came out on top in these retro-computer-analysis sessions, but I don't place much store by that. Style is a factor - the simpler the positions you tend to play, the easier it is to play a high proportion of 'best' moves.

Jonathan, I'm sure I've read Karpov himself saying he would have played even with the 9-9 condition if FIDE had ordered it. But whether Fischer would have played anyway - well. At the time I think the Russians said (not unfairly) that if this is agreed there'll be more demands, and so on.....

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Who would have won had Anatoly Karpov played Bobby Fisch

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:57 am

The important thing with projects like this is to produce background evidence and data, results of the players, whether they crumble with a setback, are they likely to withdraw, etc, then list their pluses and minuses, and then say we will never know the answer, but on balance I think X would have won. (Conclusion doesn't matter as long as you can back it up with evidence.)

My own view is that even if they had started, the match would never have finished as some trivial argument would have been magnified.

I seem to recall reading that Fischer and Karpov met to dicuss the match, but Karpov wasn't happy with the 10 wins, draws not to count rule, pointing out with some horror that the match could take 6 months, and Fischer agreeing with equanimity that this was quite possible. No idea if the story is true.
"Kevin was the arbiter and was very patient. " Nick Grey

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