Open chess diary 281-300
Even the paranoid are sometimes persecuted. The chessworld has always agreed that in the Candidates Tournament of Curaçao 1962, there was a Soviet conspiracy against Bobby Fischer.
Among eight participants, there were five Soviets: Tal, Korchnoi, Geller, Keres and Petrosyan. And in those days you didn't have to be paranoid to think that their first objective might have been to make sure that Fischer would not win.
Tal, who was in bad form and bad health, and who dropped out after 21 rounds, has never been accused of being part of a Curaçao conspiracy, and Korchnoi has always vehemently denied any such thing. But Geller, Keres and Petrosyan only played fightless draws against each other, which helped them to eight extra resting days each.
The Soviet Union does not exist anymore, the sins can be admitted. "Of course it was rigged," Yuri Averbakh has recently said (in an interview with Jules Welling in the Dutch magazine Schaaknieuws). According to Averbakh, who was in Curaçao as a member of the Soviet delegation, it had been decided that Keres, being an Estonian, should not win, and neither should the Jewish Ukrainian Geller. It had to the Armenian Petrosyan. Why an Estonian and a Jewish Ukrainian (and the Jewish Russian Korchnoi!) were not suitable and an Armenian was, Averbakh sadly fails to say, or Welling did not ask.
Well, a conspiracy - but how poorly those evil Soviets managed their conspiracy! With two rounds to go, the disobedient Keres was in first place, and he had to play the outsider Benkö. Had he won, no conspiracy could have prevented an Estonian becoming Botvinnik's challenger - but he lost. Yes, that was a relief, Averbach now says, Benkö's win was a Deus ex Machina which prevented suspicions.
In his famous piece in Sports Illustrated in 1962, titled How the Russians fixed World Chess, Fischer has given this position as proof of the conspiracy.