Victor Korchnoi scored his first point in his world chess championship match with Anatoly Karpov yesterday in Merano, Italy. The victory, in the sixth game of the match, still left the score a lopsided 3 to 1 (with two draws) in champion Karpov's favor, but it encouraged Korchnoi partisans, who have seen signs in the last two games that the challenger may be regaining the erratic brilliance that is his trademark.

Korchnoi-watchers are also speculating that the improvement in his spirits may be partly credited to the arrival of 23-year-old Natalya Peysikova in Merano. Peysikova is the fiance' of Igor, Korchnoi's 23-year-old son, who is in a Siberian prison camp for refusing military service. She and her mother emigrated from the Soviet Union in August 1980 and now live in New York. On her arrival in Merano, she told reporters, "I thought it would be an inspiration to Victor to have somebody close to Igor remind him that his son is still in prison."

Game six was the most interesting and action-packed so far in the match -- a game very much in the Korchnoi style -- but its conclusion had an air of understatement typical of Karpov. Analysis after the game adjourned Thursday showed that Karpov would lose, so the champion simply sent a message resigning rather than resuming play. Experts on the scene said that Karpov had blundered on his 40th move, from the position shown in the diagram below. (DIAGRAM HERE)

Karpov moved 40. Nf1 (N-B1 in the old notation), evidently fearing that his knight would be captured by the pawn if he played it to e2 (K2). But the pawn is in fact immobilized, because dxe2 (PxN) exposes the black queen to immediate capture without compensation. From e2, the knight would have been able to move to f4 (KB4), where it could simultaneously attack the black queen and rook.

Instead, the game continued 40. Nf1, Be4, 41. Bf4, and Korchnoi sealed his next move. White's position seems to neutralize the most obvious threat, 41 . . . Bxg2, because 42. Ne3 would attack both the queen and the bishop. But after 42 . . . Qf3, white cannot play 43. Nxg2 because it would allow 43 . . . Re2 and a quick victory.