One famous case of fixed chess games is the Keres vs. Botvinnik World Championship 1948. I ran across this example while looking for other such chess games from history.
It is known that Stalin was a chess player and an admirer of Keres. On the basis of this, the rumor has been that Stalin made a deal with Keres. The story goes that Keres’ life would be spared. Keres, the Estonian, would not be executed the way that Petrov, the Latvian, had been. In return for sparing his life, Keres agreed that a Russian player would become World Chess Champion and that Keres would never be world champion.
Was such a deal really made?
The five games between Botvinnik and Keres were remarkable because they seem to be the worst series of five games ever played between two grandmasters. Even the strongest grandmaster will occasionally make a horrible blunder. However, these games between Keres and Botvinnik did not merely contain a few outright blunders. Rather, they exuded weakness throughout. They looked like games between two Class A players, or possibly between two experts having a bad day. However, Keres and Botvinnik were two of the strongest players in the world.
By far the worst game of the five was the last game, in which Botvinnik lost to Keres. By winning this game, Keres was able to catch up with Reshevsky and tie for third. Keres played a patzer opening, always known to be bad. Botvinnik played like an absolute rank beginner. The presumed reason is that Botvinnik had already clenched first place and the World Chess Championship. Since Keres had thrown the first four games to Botvinnik, Botvinnik was obliged to throw one back to make the final result of 4-1 in favor of Botvinnik look more reasonable and to give Keres a share of third-place prize money.
Is there evidence of any other deals to help a given player or country win?
Rumors are rife about many such games involving Russians in the 40’s, 50,’s and perhaps even the 60’s. But what about other players from other countries, perhaps doing it for personal benefit rather than to help political leaders?
This theory is laid out here.