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one could just as well say that Karpov scored a higher percentage in his match against Spassky than Fischer did
Let's pull the numbers again:
Fischer - Spassky, 62.5%, PR 2749
Karpov - Spassky, 63.6% PR 2747
Ok, let me start by saying that Karpov did score a slightly higher percentage (even though the PR was the same). I'm surprised though that Kasparov or anybody else would make such a big deal about an infinitesimal difference, or claim that Spassky played much better in that match. Nevermind that Spassky was in a slow but steady decline since at least 1971. Nevermind the crushing defeat and the post-mortem welcome in Moscow. Nevermind the fact that all the attention and assistance went to the new kid on the block (it might seem trivial today, when GMs at least have strong computers for analysis and sparring).
”Korchnoi wasn’t just a 50 years old guy :-) He was an incredible player also at 50. And if one should make such comparisons one could just as well say that [..] Karpov scored better against Korchnoi than Fischer did"
Brother, we've already been there
I'm surprised again that Kasparov managed to convince half of the chess community that Karpov was (in 1975!) a player the likes of which Fischer had never met, when, ironically, the reverse was probably true.
When he dropped off the grid, Fischer was 125 elo points above anybody else who had a rating, not just Spassky. In fact, except for Spassky and Larsen (and maybe Korchnoi ?) he was even further ahead than the rest of the pack, regardless of what lifetime scores Geller, Korchnoi, Tal, Gheorghiu and others might have had against him. Between 1973 and 1982-1983 when Kasparov raised his head, Karpov's opponents were essentially "the generation defeated by Fischer" as Korchnoi once reffered to the upper echelon of players born in the 20s and 30s (and a handful of GMs born in the 40s). These players weren't getting any younger or stronger, and yet Karpov never distanced himself from the pack to the extent Fischer did. In fact for 2 or 3 years he even dropped below 2700. His interzonal, candidates (except for the Spassky match), and first world championship results tell the same story. It wasn't till the 'Massacre in Meran' that he finally was able to shatter the bastion of the old generation. But by then all his opponents were 10 years older than they were last time they played Fischer.
Performance ratings in matches often don’t say that much about the greatness of players. If a 2800 and a 2600 play a match with all draws the TPR claims that the 2600 player played 200 Elo stronger than his opponent, even if they obviously played on the same level.
Well, yes and no. They play at the same level in that particular event, but that level probably isn't 2600, more like 2700. So while PR might overestimate one's ability and not tell the full story, there are still notable, because winning percentages alone don't tell the full story either.
I am not sure who is/was the greatest chess player of all time as the chess history is so rich with talented players and many of them deserve to be one of the best.
However, one thing I am 100% sure of is that Fischer DEFINITELY SHOULDN'T be counted as the greatest player of all time. His international playing time is pretty limited of 3-4 years and his inability to gain enough courage to face a rising Karpov and trying to hide it behind weak excuses in '75 showed his lack of belief in his own chess abilities.
Fischer was what generally can be termed as 'one hit wonder'. Somehow managed to reach a high peak for 2 years('71-'72) but then decided that instead of challenging himself with new opponents and strategies, he would rather shy away from international arena to preserve his stats.
He is similar to a newcomer in a baseball who somehow manages to hit a home run in almost every ball in his debut season but then quits after the season to preserve his high stats.
Don't get me wrong. Bobby Fischer was undoubtedly a great chess player. But 'greatest player of all time'??? Puh-leeze. His failure to prove that he even had the tenacity or ability to play consistently in international arena for a long time keeps him out of the contention imo.
”Ok, let me start by saying that Karpov did score a slightly higher percentage (even though the PR was the same). I'm surprised though that Kasparov or anybody else would make such a big deal about an infinitesimal difference”
I don’t think the difference matters at all, I just think that if one looks at results against different opponents to suggest the superiority of one player, one could just as well look at results against the same opponent. I.e the suggestion that Fischer was better because he a scored a better result against Spassky than Karpov did against Korchnoi might be completed with the stats that Karpov scored no worse against Spassky and Korchnoi than Fischer did.
greatest attacker kasparov then tal,greatest tournament player and defender lasker,most competitive fischer, alekhine and Larsen,greatest endgame player magnus,greatest middlegame player botvinnik,the greatest paul morphy.