The title match for the World Chess Championship resumed yesterday with champion Anatoly Karpov and challenger Victor Korchnoi playing to an even position after 44 moves. If this 12th match game is drawn, as expected, the players will remain tied at 1 - 1, with six victories needed to take it all.
Karpov played conservatively, in a Ruy Lopez opening, allowing Korchnoi to equalize (with the black pieces) as early as move 14. Korchnoi then had endgame chances based on three weak white pawns, but Karpov defended adequately.
In tactics at the surface of the game, black's queen-pawn leads a charmed life. One flawed combination would have been 18. BxP? allowing 18. . . ., QR-Q1 19. B-N3, NxB 20. RxR, RxR 21. PxN, R-Q8 22. K-B1, RxQN! winning because of the knight fork at Q7.
Toward the end of the session, Korchnoi sacrificed a pawn to speed the advance of his queenside pawns. Karpov countered (with 35. R-K1 ch !!) by centralizing his rooks and creating threats on black's isolated king-rook-pawn. Korchnoi put aside the impatience that cost him the ninth match game and returned to defense.
In the adjournced position black can play 44. . . ., R-KR1, regaining the pawn, but white's king must become active, ensuring a draw.
A few minutes before the halt of play, and in keeping with previous custom, Karpov found that his brief, civil offer of a draw was met with a gruff wave of the hand as Korchnoi's refusal.