Someone sent me an email that it would have been Bobby Fischer’s 68th birthday today.
They sent a link to this old video:
and I saw some comments regarding Fischer-Karpov, who would have won. It suddenly occurs to me that I have a better understanding of how that match would have gone.
Karpov would not have succeeded in breaking Fischer, much as he did in his two matches against Kortchnoi, where Kortchnoi falls apart in equal positions just as I did against my opponent last night. This strategy also worked, at first, against Kasparov in their first match.
I think that Karpov would have had to go with 1.e4 to get some wins, and that those would have been interesting games. I don’t know what would have happened in such a match, who wins, but one thing about Fischer is that he doesn’t break. Maybe he goes for a bad combo in some of his games, and mostly he played against weaker opponents before it got all international tournaments for him, but he doesn’t break in simple positions.
For this reason, I think Fischer had equal, if not better chances. It’s hard to imagine Karpov not winning some endgames, but Fischer was difficult to stop himself. He probably needed to learn Karpov’s weaknesses, however, OTB. So Karpov would have had some advantage from studying Fischer more than the other way around, but as we know the studying Fischer thing didn’t help the soviets all that much.
Another thing that tends to get glossed over is that in Karpov’s prime, a big advantage of his, besides his inimitable style, was that he moved fast. This worked surprisingly well against Kasparov (some of the weak or losing moves, Kasparov bought into), but I think it would completely fail against Fischer. Fischer was not the type to buy into the whole “Oh noes, my opponent moved fast, it must be part of his opening preparation” schlock. Karpov would have to wear himself out with best chess, and for this reason it would appear to me that Fischer would win.
Even if Fischer loses the match and wins the return match, as Spassky had predicted, I think it would have been good for chess as Fischer, in that video, states his interest in having the next World Championship match in the USA. As it is, we were left with the historic match in Reykjavic, but chess would likely have become much more commercialized if Fischer had played another match, in the USA.