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Did the Soviets collude? A statistical analysis of championship chess 1940-1978

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  • Moul, Charles C.
  • Nye, John V.C.

Abstract

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 can be important in such scenarios. In particular, we examine whether players from the former Soviet Union acted as a cartel in international all-play-all 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 consider several tests for collusion. Our results are inconsistent with Soviet competition but consistent with Soviet draw-collusion that yielded substantial benefits to the cartel. Simulations of the period's five premier international competitions (the FIDE Candidates tournaments) suggest that the observed Soviet sweep was a 60%-probability event under collusion but only a 25%-probability event had the Soviet players not colluded.

Suggested Citation

  • Moul, Charles C. & Nye, John V.C., 2009. "Did the Soviets collude? A statistical analysis of championship chess 1940-1978," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 10-21, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:70:y:2009:i:1-2:p:10-21
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    Cited by:

    1. Gränsmark, Patrik, 2012. "Masters of our time: Impatience and self-control in high-level chess games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 179-191.
    2. Laurent Linnemer & Michael Visser, 2016. "Self-selection in tournaments: The case of chess players," Post-Print hal-01629749, HAL.
    3. Mueller-Langer, Frank & Andreoli-Versbach, Patrick, 2013. "Leading-effect vs. Risk-taking in Dynamic Tournaments: Evidence from a Real-life Randomized Experiment," Discussion Papers in Economics 15452, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    4. Frank, Björn & Krabel, Stefan, 2013. "Gens una sumus?!—Or does political ideology affect experts’ esthetic judgment of chess games?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 66-78.
    5. Gränsmark, Patrik, 2010. "A Rib Less Makes you Consistent but Impatient: A Gender Comparison of Expert Chess Players," Working Paper Series 5/2010, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    6. Gränsmark, Patrik, 2010. "Social Screening and Cooperation Among Expert Chess Players," Working Paper Series 4/2010, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    7. Linnemer, Laurent & Visser, Michael, 2016. "Self-selection in tournaments: The case of chess players," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 213-234.
    8. Gränsmark, Patrik, 2012. "Masters of Our Time: Impatience and Self-control in High-level Chess Games," Working Paper Series 2/2012, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    9. Gerdes, Christer & Gränsmark, Patrik & Rosholm, Michael, 2011. "Chicken or Checkin'? Rational Learning in Repeated Chess Games," IZA Discussion Papers 5862, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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