Game 16 of the world chess championship match was adjourned yesterday in a rock-and pawn endgame that looked like a probable draw while a typhoon raged through the Philippine resort of Baguio City, ignored by world champion Anatoly Karpov and challenger Victor Korchnoi.
Unknown to the two players, the storm caused flooding in the lowlands below Baguio City, forcing the evacuation of an estimated 15,000 persons. A Landslide caused by the storm took at least two lives.
Locked in fierce concentration, Korchnoi and Karpov exchanged queens early in a French defense (Korchnoi's first of the match) while the storm drove rain through a leaky roof into the spectators' section of the playing hall, dampening the carpet in places.
With queens and two minor pieces exchanged by move 10, the game began to look like a draw very early. Karpov's original strategy focused largely on the creation and attacking of an isolated black QP, but Korchnoi defended ably and after the exchange of knights on move 24 his QP was no longer isolated and his work seemed easier.
In the adjourned position, with five pawns against six and his rook under attack, Korchnoi's position seems dangerous, but he has the initiative and an outside chance of winning if Karpov plays imprecisely. After (for example 42 . . . P-B4ch; 43 K-Q3, RxP; 44. R-QR1, R-N2, black has a small but noticeable advantage, based chiefly on the more active position of his king. The black QRP cannot survive and the pawn formation allows the black king considerably more mobility. Karpov will undoubtedly try to avoid an early exchange of rooks, and with the rooks on the board his drawing chances should be good despite the extra black pawn.
An interesting alternative for Karpov would be to keep his rook in the center with P-KB5 and R-K6ch, but a quick examination does not show how he can do that without endangering his kingside pawns. For example: 42 . . . P-B4ch; 43. K-Q3, RxP; 44. P-B5, Rxp; 45. R-K6ch, KQ3; 46. P-R6, and black has time to capture the KRP, with a probably won endgame, before position the rook for sentry duty on the QRP.