Monday, January 4, 2010
RATINGS: FISCHER VS KASPAROV
Once again there is another article on the ChessBase website to advance the hypothesis that Garry Kasparov was the greatest chess player of all time. Maybe he is the "greatest chess player of all time who had the help of seconds and banks of computer engines and databases from ChessBase." Despite all that assistance his Elo, at its highest, was only 2851! Garry did this in 1999.
Fischer on the other hand had an Elo of 2785 after his match with Spassky in 1972, a difference of 66 points and 27 years. In the interim many have suggested there has been considerable rating inflation. Today there are 30 people (at their maximum rating) who are rated at or over 2731, a difference of 120 points between Kasparov's highest and 2731. Fischer was rated at 2785 which was 120 points (or so) higher than his nearest competitor, Spassky! And Fischer lost a few rating points for not beating Spassky even worse! (Kasparov's nearest max. rating competitor, Topalov, was 2813, a difference of 38 points.) Elo's system is really about comparative "relative" performances.
What's more, Fischer's disdain for seconds, and there being no computers available then, seriously puts into question that Kasparov was the best player of all time--I think objectively, Kasparov knows this and why he writes so deferentially about him.
The next thing we know someone will write that Kasparov was stronger than Paul Morphy, whom many had previously regarded as close to "unbelievable." Why this unprovable emphasis on who is/was the best? I think there is a better question: If you were a grandmaster and your family's life was on the line, who would you fear more as an opponent, for one game, an alive Fischer (1972) without a computer or seconds, or Kasparov (1999) without a computer or seconds?