Did the Soviets run a chess cartel?

Steve Levitt told us that sumo wrestlers cheat.  Are you surprised that Soviet grandmasters did the same?  They were expected to take certain deliberate draws against other, or sometimes even throw a game, so as to ensure that a given tournament would be won by a Soviet and not by a foreigner.  Bobby Fischer had alleged this for years, now economists Charles Moule and John Nye offer some evidence.

Here is my previous post on the work of John Nye.


The evidence have been presented elsewhere for some time, and it is, I believe, a commonly accepted fact that several soviet grandmasters were collaborating in order to better both the soviet, and in some cases their own individual, performance. Many examples could be made, for instance the Curacao tournament in 62, where Petrosian, Keres and Geller only made draws individually (8 games each), and where the collusion was particularly obvious in the last round, where Keres had an obviously lost position against Petrosian, who never the less managed to throw the simple win away. Rumors also question the outcome of the last Benkö-Geller game in this tournament which Benkö conviently lost (Geller made shared 2. place because of this outcome).

Garry Kasparov, although not having mentioned direct cheating, has told us something about the collusion that took place in the soviet camp in the Fischer era as well. In his fourth volume of My great predecessors he ie. present GM Akatortsevs letter to leading soviet grandmasters written the 6. of April, 1964 (John Nyes survey only lasts until this year, which I find perculiar, since it was not until this point that the soviet collusion really could be considered systematic):

"Dear... On the basis of the attached games of R. Fischer I would ask you to draw conclusions about his play, by answering these survey questions. We hope to receive your reply within a month."

Answers were given by as great players as Polygayevsky, Geller and Korchnoi and leaves no question as to whether the Soviet grandmasters were working together against Fischer - that is, were colluding.

Professor Nye, please guest blog at MR!

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