The Fischer-Karpov negotiations

Aug 7, 2015, 11:41 PM |

First, I direct the reader to this off-site blog:

It is a fascinating account.

Of the proposed 1975 FIDE title match, Karpov states:

“It is possible that if we had met face to face earlier, then we might have played the official match of 1975. At that time our intermediaries and representatives did many things to keep that from taking place. Each of the official sides considered it a matter of honor not to agree, and to take a hard-line position. Both Fischer and I understood too late that we should have met without intermediaries.”

The blogger, Dana MacKenzie, provides some interesting back ground:

However, Fischer and Karpov did not meet in person until 1976, when they met three times: first in Tokyo, then in Madrid, and finally at the Philippine embassy in Washington. Karpov claims — and of course, we have only his word for it — that he and Fischer very nearly agreed on the conditions for a match. Karpov says that he realized Fischer would not back down from his insistence on a match to 10 wins, and so he agreed to this, provided that there was a suitable break at the halfway point. What about the 9-9 match clause? Karpov claims: “The rule about retaining the title in case of a 9-9 score fell away of its own accord. Fischer considered himself the champion of the world among professionals, the absolute champion. I, from his point of view, was the official champion.” If I’m interpreting Karpov’s words correctly, Fischer was willing in case of a 9-9 score to let Karpov be known as the “official” or FIDE champion, while he would be the “professional” or absolute champion. A rather interesting precedent of the split that actually occurred, more than a decade later, when Kasparov bolted from FIDE!

Karpov's account gives a reason why no match ever took place:

"At first we met in [Washington, DC], and then went to the Phillippine embassy, because [FIDE Vice-President Florencio] Campomanes had agreed with the [Philippine] Ambassador that if we came to an agreement, we could come by and ask for his secretary’s help in formulating the documents… We had agreed about practically everything, we arrived at the embassy, and the text of the agreement was typed. Only one question remained unresolved — the name of the match. I presumed that we would eventually work out the name together, but at that moment we didn’t have a consensus. Fischer insisted that the match should have the name 'The Absolute World Championship for Professionals.' At that time the idea of sports professionals was not well accepted either in the Olympic movement or in the USSR. I understood that with a name like that I would never be allowed to play the match. I would not have been able to convince the government of the country that we should forget about the name and set as our main goal the organization of the most interesting sporting event, at least in the history of chess."

It was only after the publication of the book by Gulko, Korchnoi, Pipov, and Felschtinski, "The KGB Plays Chess," in 2010, that we find out that Campanones was a KGB asset.  It is unclear whether Campanones was working for the KGB this early, but it was well-known that he later did everything he could to protect Karpov and the Soviet Chess Federation - sometimes from themselves.

(I note here, for the record, that the links to the origunal Russian language interview on the "64" site are dead.  The domain is "disconnected.")