At the World Chess Championship 1963 Tigran Petrosian narrowly qualified to challenge Mikhail Botvinnik for the World Chess Championship, and then won the match to become the ninth World Chess Champion. The cycle is particularly remembered for the controversy surrounding the Candidates' Tournament at Curaçao in 1962, which resulted in FIDE changing the format of the Candidates Tournament to a series of knockout matches.
The world championship cycle was under the jurisdiction of FIDE, the World Chess Federation, which set the structure for the fifth world championship series at the 1959 FIDE Congress in Luxembourg. The cycle began with the zonal tournaments of 1960. The top finishers in the zonals met at the Interzonal, with the top six players from the Interzonal qualifying for the Candidates' Tournament. They were then joined by Mikhail Tal (loser of the last World Championship match in 1961) and Paul Keres (runner-up at the 1959 Candidates) in the eight player Candidates Tournament in 1962. The winner of the Candidates would qualify to play a World Championship match against Mikhail Botvinnik, the incumbent champion, in 1963.
FIDE now had more than fifty member Federations that were divided into nine zones: 1-Western Europe, 2-Central Europe, 3-Eastern Europe, 4-USSR, 5-USA, 6-Canada, 7-Central America, 8-South America, and 9-Asia. Previous championship cycles had used only eight zones. Each zone was allocated from one to four qualifiers based on the relative strengths of its leading players.
The Zonal was held at Madrid, with Jan Hein Donner (Netherlands), Svetozar Gligorić (Yugoslavia), Arturo Pomar (Spain), and Lajos Portisch (Hungary) in a four way tie for first place with 10½/15. A Madrid playoff qualified Gligorić, Pomar, and Portisch.
The Zonal was allocated to Berg en Dal, Netherlands. Due to Cold War political tension, Wolfgang Uhlmann (East Germany) was refused a visa, causing the players from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Yugoslavia to withdraw. The winners of the diminished tournament were Friðrik Ólafsson (Iceland) first with 7½/9 and Andreas Dückstein (Austria) and Rudolf Teschner (West Germany) tied for second with 7. The Zonal tournament was replayed in the summer of 1961 at Mariánské Lázně, Czechoslovakia, with Ólafsson, Miroslav Filip (Czechoslovakia), and Uhlmann qualifying. At its 1961 Congress at Sofia, FIDE decided that Dückstein and Teschner would be allowed to play a match for a place in the Interzonal. With the match tied 3-3, Dückstein withdrew giving the final qualifying spot to Teschner.
The Zonal was held in Budapest, with Gedeon Barcza (Hungary) finishing first with 10½/15, followed by Mario Bertok (Yugoslavia), István Bilek (Hungary), Aleksandar Matanović (Yugoslavia), and Theo van Scheltinga tied for second at 10. A playoff between the second-place finishers at Berg en Dal ended with Bilek 3½, Bertok and Matanović 3, von Scheltinga 2½. An artificial tie-break selected Bertok over Matanović, resulting in Barcza, Bilek, and Bertok qualifying for the Interzonal.
Even though FIDE allocated the USSR four qualifying spots, Zone 4 was the hardest zone from which to qualify. An early 1961 USSR Championship was held as the Zonal tournament. Tigran Petrosian won the championship with 13½/19, and the remaining qualifiers were Victor Korchnoi with 13 and Efim Geller and Leonid Stein with 12. Notable players who failed to qualify from this zone were former world champion Vasily Smyslov at 11, former world champion challenger David Bronstein at 9, and former Candidates Boris Spassky at 11, Yuri Averbakh at 10½, Mark Taimanov at 10, and Isaac Boleslavsky at 9. The USSR Federation tried unsuccessfully at the 1961 FIDE Congress to get Smyslov seeded into the Interzonal.
The United States Chess Federation designated the 1960 U.S. Championship as the Zonal tournament. Top finishers in the championship were Bobby Fischer with 9/11, William Lombardy with 7, Raymond Weinstein with 6½, and Arthur Bisguier, Samuel Reshevsky, and James Sherwin with 6. Zone 5 was allotted three players, but the lack of true chess professionals in America aside from Fischer greatly affected the players the U.S. sent to the Interzonal. Lombardy was too busy to play as he was in seminary, and Weinstein was also busy with college studies. Reshevsky declined a spot in the Interzonal, and Sherwin could not get enough time off work to participate. Fischer and Bisguier won the first two spots, and Pal Benko was nominated to fill the final position.
Zone 7 comprised Central America along with northern parts of South America. Miguel Cuéllar (Colombia) qualified from the Caracas Zonal.
Top finishers at the São Paulo Zonal were Julio Bolbochán (Argentina) first with 13½/17, Samuel Schweber (Argentina) second with 13, and Eugênio German (Brazil), Rodrigo Flores (Chile), and Bernardo Wexler tied for third with 11½. After a playoff for third place, the qualifiers were Bolbochan, Schweber, and German.
Zone 9 included Asia (except USSR) and the Pacific, and was divided into two subzones. The Southeast Asia and Pacific subzone tournament was held in Sydney, with C. J. S. Purdy winning. As the West and Central Asia subzone tournament at Madras had only two players, it was decided in match play. Manuel Aaron (India) beat Sukien Momo (Mongolia) 3-1. Aaron qualified by beating Purdy 3-0 in the Zonal final match also held at Madras.
The fifth Interzonal was planned for the Netherlands in 1961, but the sponsors could not guarantee that visas could be obtained for all participants. Subsequently efforts were made to play in Moscow, and then Madrid, but these arrangements also fell through. Finally the Interzonal was played in Stockholm under the direct sponsorship of FIDE, from 26 January to 8 March 1962. The 23-player single round-robin tournament was won convincingly by 18-year-old American Bobby Fischer with 17½ points out of 22 (13 wins, 9 draws, no losses), a margin of 2½ points. The next four places were taken by the Soviets Tigran Petrosian and Efim Geller with 15 points, and the Soviet Victor Korchnoi and Miroslav Filip of Czechoslovakia with 14 points.
For the sixth and final qualifying spot there was a three-way tie at 13½ points. Leonid Stein (USSR), Pal Benko (USA), and Svetozar Gligorić (Yugoslavia) played a double round-robin playoff tournament which was dominated by Stein and Benko. Although Stein won, a rule adopted in 1959 allowed no more than three players from a single Federation to qualify from the Interzonal. Stein could play in the Candidates only if one of the other qualifiers from the USSR (Geller, Petrosian, or Korchnoi) was unable to participate. With Stein excluded, Benko took the final place in the Candidates Tournament.
|1||Bobby Fischer (USA)||-||½||½||1||½||½||½||½||½||1||½||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||½||1||1||13||9||0||17½||1|
|2||Efim Geller (USSR)||½||-||½||½||½||½||1||1||1||1||0||½||1||½||1||1||1||½||½||½||1||0||1||10||10||2||15||2-3|
|03||Tigran Petrosian (USSR)||½||½||-||½||½||½||½||½||½||½||1||1||½||½||1||½||½||1||1||1||1||½||1||8||14||0||15||2-3|
|04||Viktor Korchnoi (USSR)||0||½||½||-||1||½||½||½||½||0||1||1||½||1||1||½||½||1||½||1||1||0||1||9||10||3||14||4-5|
|05||Miroslav Filip (TCH)||½||½||½||0||-||½||½||1||0||½||½||½||1||1||½||½||1||½||1||½||1||1||1||8||12||2||14||4-5|
|06||Svetozar Gligorić (YUG)||½||½||½||½||½||-||½||0||½||½||½||1||½||1||0||1||1||½||½||1||½||1||1||7||13||2||13½||6-8|
|07||Pal Benko (USA)||½||0||½||½||½||½||-||½||1||½||½||0||½||½||1||1||0||1||1||1||½||1||1||8||11||3||13½||6-8|
|08||Leonid Stein (USSR)||½||0||½||½||0||1||½||-||0||1||½||0||1||½||½||1||1||½||½||1||1||1||1||9||9||4||13½||6-8|
|09||Wolfgang Uhlmann (GDR)||½||0||½||½||1||½||0||1||-||0||1||1||½||0||1||1||0||1||1||1||0||1||0||10||5||7||12½||9-10|
|10||Lajos Portisch (HUN)||0||0||½||1||½||½||½||0||1||-||½||½||½||½||½||1||1||1||0||1||1||1||0||8||9||5||12½||9-10|
|11||Arturo Pomar (ESP)||½||1||0||0||½||½||½||½||0||½||-||½||0||0||1||½||1||½||1||½||1||1||1||7||10||5||12||11-12|
|12||Friðrik Ólafsson (ISL)||0||½||0||0||½||0||1||1||0||½||½||-||½||0||½||½||½||1||1||1||1||1||1||8||8||6||12||11-12|
|13||Julio Bolbochán (ARG)||0||0||½||½||0||½||½||0||½||½||1||½||-||½||½||½||1||½||1||½||½||1||1||5||13||4||11½||13|
|14||Gedeon Barcza (HUN)||0||½||½||0||0||0||½||½||1||1||1||1||½||-||½||½||½||½||½||½||1||0||1||5||12||5||11||14-15|
|15||István Bilek (HUN)||0||0||0||0||½||1||0||½||0||½||0||½||½||½||-||½||1||½||1||1||1||1||1||7||8||7||11||14-15|
|16||Arthur Bisguier (USA)||0||0||½||½||½||0||0||0||0||0||½||½||½||½||½||-||½||½||1||½||1||1||1||4||11||7||9½||16|
|17||Daniel Yanofsky (CAN)||0||0||½||½||0||0||1||0||1||0||0||½||0||½||0||½||-||½||1||½||½||0||½||3||9||10||7½||17-18|
|18||Mario Bertok (YUG)||0||½||0||0||½||½||0||½||0||0||½||0||½||½||½||½||½||-||½||0||½||1||½||1||13||8||7½||17-18|
|19||Eugenio German (BRA)||0||½||0||½||0||½||0||½||0||1||0||0||0||½||0||0||0||½||-||½||½||1||1||3||8||11||7||19-20|
|20||Samuel Schweber (ARG)||0||½||0||0||½||0||0||0||0||0||½||0||½||½||0||½||½||1||½||-||1||½||½||2||10||10||7||19-20|
|21||Rudolf Teschner (FRG)||½||0||0||0||0||½||½||0||1||0||0||0||½||0||0||0||½||½||½||0||-||1||1||3||7||12||6½||21|
|22||Miguel Cuéllar (COL)||0||1||½||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||½||0||-||½||4||13||15||5½||22|
|23||Manuel Aaron (IND)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||½||½||0||½||0||½||-||2||4||16||4||23|
|1||Leonid Stein (USSR)||x x||½ ½||1 1||3/4|
|2||Pal Benko (USA)||½ ½||x x||1 -||2/3|
|3||Svetozar Gligorić (YUG)||0 0||0 -||x x||0/3|
The Candidates Tournament was played as an eight-player, quadruple round-robin tournament in Curaçao in 1962. The field was largely the same as at the 1959 Candidates Tournament in Yugoslavia, with Mikhail Tal (USSR), Paul Keres (USSR), Tigran Petrosian (USSR), Bobby Fischer (USA), and Pal Benko (USA) as the five returning players. The three new players were Efim Geller (USSR), Miroslav Filip (Czechoslovakia), and Viktor Korchnoi (USSR), in place of former champion Vasily Smyslov (USSR), Svetozar Gligorić (Yugoslavia), and Friðrik Ólafsson (Iceland). Only Korchnoi was really new to this level of competition, as Geller was a candidate at Zurich in 1953 and Filip at Amsterdam in 1956.
The favourites were Tal (the recently dethroned World Champion) and Fischer, based on his powerful Interzonal showing. Petrosian had been a title contender since 1953, but he already had a reputation of drawing many games, and it was unclear if his tendency to split points might prevent him from reaching the championship. At age 46, Keres was the oldest player in the tournament. Although a veteran of championship play since the 1938 AVRO tournament, it was thought by some that this might be his last shot at the championship title. (Ultimately Keres had another opportunity for the title in 1965, but again came up just short.) Although Korchnoi had already established a dominant career record over Tal (five wins, no losses at the time of the tournament), both he and Geller had very imaginative and adventurous styles, which often got them into trouble and led to erratic results. Filip had been ill and had not played many major events between 1958 and 1960, and had the reputation as a solid player who scored many draws. Benko was not a full-time professional chess player (he worked as an investment broker in New York) which limited his opportunities to play against grandmaster-strength opposition. In addition, his tendency to get into time trouble also weighed against his chances.
The pre-tournament favorites were Tal and Fischer, but Tal lost his first three games and Fischer lost his first two games, indicating an unpredictable tournament could be unfolding. Tal was in bad health, withdrew after the third of four cycles, and was hospitalized with kidney problems.
Korchnoi took the early lead, scoring 5/7 in the first cycle, ahead of Petrosian, Geller and Keres with 4 points. But in the twelfth round, Korchnoi blundered against Fischer in a winning position and lost, and soon after lost four games in a row. The tournament became a three-way race between Petrosian, Keres and Geller. With two rounds to go Petrosian and Keres shared the lead, but Keres unexpectedly lost in the penultimate round to Benko. Petrosian, who drew his last five games of the tournament, emerged as the winner.
Petrosian scored 17½ points out of 27, half a point ahead of Keres and Geller. Fischer finished fourth with 14 points, followed by Korchnoi (13½), Benko (12), Filip (7) and Tal (7 from 21 games played). Since the championship rules provided an automatic berth into the next cycle's Candidates Tournament to the Candidates runner-up, Keres and Geller played a match to determine second place. Keres won the 1962 Moscow playoff match 4½-3½ to earn a seed into the 1965 Candidates Tournament.
|1||Tigran Petrosian (USSR)||-||½½½½||½½½½||½1½½||½½11||½½1½||11½−||½11½||17½|
|2=||Paul Keres (USSR)||½½½½||-||½½½½||0½1½||½½1½||1110||1½1−||½11½||17|
|2=||Efim Geller (USSR)||½½½½||½½½½||-||11½0||½½1½||½½½1||½11−||½11½||17|
|4||Bobby Fischer (USA)||½0½½||1½0½||00½1||-||010½||01½1||½1½−||1½1½||14|
|5||Viktor Korchnoi (USSR)||½½00||½½0½||½½0½||101½||-||½½½0||10½−||1111||13½|
|6||Pal Benko (USA)||½½0½||0001||½½½0||10½0||½½½1||-||10½−||011½||12|
|7=||Mikhail Tal (USSR)||00½−||0½0−||½00−||½0½−||01½−||01½−||-||10½−||7|
|7=||Miroslav Filip (TCH)||½00½||½00½||½00½||0½0½||0000||100½||01½−||-||7|
What makes this tournament famous and often-discussed is the allegations of Soviet collusion. The three top finishers (Petrosian, Geller and Keres) drew all twelve of their games against each other, in an average of only 19 moves.
Soon after the tournament, Fischer publicly alleged that the Soviets had colluded to prevent any non-Soviet - specifically him - from winning. His allegations were twofold: first, that Petrosian, Geller and Keres had pre-arranged to draw all their games; and second, that Korchnoi had been instructed to lose to them.
The first allegation, of the drawing pact, is often assumed to be correct. All of the three players involved have since died, but Yuri Averbakh, who was head of the Soviet team, stated in a 2002 interview, that Keres was old and wanted to conserve energy, and that Petrosian and Geller were good friends with a history of drawing with each other.
The second allegation, of Korchnoi throwing games, is more doubtful. Korchnoi defected from the USSR in 1976, and has never alleged he was forced to throw games. Korchnoi has also written on his surprise at the short draws. So apparently there was a drawing pact among Petrosian, Keres and Geller, which was unknown even to the fellow Soviet Korchnoi. The other point against the second allegation, is that Fischer was so far behind that it was unnecessary for Korchnoi to throw games in order for a Soviet player to win.
There are also allegations that, in the ultimately decisive Benko-Keres game, Petrosian and Geller (who were good friends) conspired against Keres by helping Benko. Benko has written that Petrosian and Geller offered to help analyse the adjourned position, but that he refused the offer.
FIDE, the world chess federation, responded to the allegations by changing the format of future Candidates' Tournaments. Beginning in the next (1966) cycle, the round-robin format was replaced by a series of elimination matches (initially best of 10 quarter-finals, best of 10 semi-finals, then a best of 12 final), to eliminate the possibility of collusion which exists in a round-robin tournament.
Petrosian lost the first game of the match, played on March 23, 1963, but recovered and won fairly comfortably, 12½-9½. Petrosian won five games, Botvinnik won two games, and there were fifteen draws. The final game, played on May 20, 1963, ended as a draw, giving Petrosian the required 12½ points needed to win the match. The championship rules were changed so that, unlike in 1957 and 1960, the loser was not entitled to a rematch, but to an automatic seed in the next Candidates Tournament. However, Botvinnik chose not to exercise this right and retired from championship play, although not competitive chess.
|Mikhail Botvinnik (USSR)||1||½||½||½||0||½||0||½||½||½||½||½||½||1||0||½||½||0||0||½||½||½||9½|
|Tigran Petrosian (USSR)||0||½||½||½||1||½||1||½||½||½||½||½||½||0||1||½||½||1||1||½||½||½||12½|