The irresistible force met the immovable object for the third time Saturday in Baguio City, the Philippines, and both almost lived up to their reputations. Challenger Victor Korchnoi hit champion Anatoly Karpov hard but proved to be - just barely - resistible. Counterpuncher Karpov threw up his defenses, saw them torn apart, but managed - just barely - to hand on for a draw.

For the first time in the match (which has resulted in three draws so far) it was Korchnoi who offered the draw, after an intense 30-move slugging match with both players short of time and attacking possibilities exhausted.

For the first time in the nearly 40 games they have played, Korchnoi allowed Karpov to use one of his favorite openings, the Nimzo-Indian defense. The new strategic lines he had worked out against this opening emerged with white's 7th, 9th and 14th moves: to take Karpov's blacksquared bishop off the board, occupy a strong black diagonal with his queen and force further weakening of the black squares around the black king's position.

Korchnoi offered pawn sacrifices twice, on his 21th and 24th moves. The first time, Karpov prudently avoided accepting, but the second time he was forced to, facing on the 25th move the threat of Q-R6 and and overwhelming attack. In the final position, Karpov was ahead by a pawn, but Korchnoi's attacking threats made the material advantage meaningless.