Did the Soviets Collude? A Statistical Analysis of Championship Chess 1940-64
30 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2006 Last revised: 18 Feb 2014
Date Written: May 1, 2006
We expand the set of outcomes considered by the tournament literature to include draws and use games from post-war chess tournaments to see whether strategic behavior is important in such scenarios. In particular, we examine whether players from the former Soviet Union acted as a cartel in international tournaments - intentionally drawing against one another in order to focus effort on non-Soviet opponents - to maximize the chance of some Soviet winning. Using data from international qualifying tournaments as well as USSR national tournaments, we estimate models to test for collusion. Our results are consistent with Soviet draw-collusion and inconsistent with Soviet competition. Simulations of the period's five premier international competitions (the FIDE Candidates tournaments) suggest that the observed Soviet sweep was a 75%-probability event under collusion but only a 25%-probability event had the Soviet players not colluded.
Keywords: Tournaments, Collusion, Chess
JEL Classification: J3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation