Anatoly Karpov came roaring back in Game 22 of the world chess championship match yesterday to remind the world that he is still the champion and that the match is not yet over.
Karpov sealed his 42nd move in what looked like a winning position, with four pawns against challenger Gary Kasparov's three and a strong initiative that might give him a victory in a half-dozen moves. Karpov's position appeared so strong that Kasparov may concede without showing up to resume play today in Moscow's Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.
A Karpov victory would make the score 11 1/2-10 1/2 in Kasparov's favor, with two games remaining. To keep his title then, Karpov would have to win at least one more game and hold the other to a draw. A Kasparov victory or two draws will give the title to Kasparov.
It now looks quite likely that the match will run its full length of 24 games with a sudden-death round on Saturday.
Karpov announced his aggressive intentions nearly from the beginning, starting a kingside attack and trading a knight for a bishop before he castled his king. Kasparov had to delay his queenside development and lose time with ineffective knight moves in response to the champion's blitzkrieg. While Kasparov gradually set up a series of exchanges that did not win equality for him, Karpov moved his king into action directly against Kasparov's king, which was tucked away inactively in a corner.
With his 39th move, Karpov was actually threatening checkmate (40 Kg6, followed by 41 Re8, mate). This was not serious as a direct threat, but it drastically reduced Kasparov's options; he had to either move his king to its precarious spot on h7 or retreat his rook to an ineffective position on the back rank -- in either case, allowing Karpov's rook to take the strong seventh-rank position that it took on Move 40.
In the adjourned position, Karpov has an opportunity to enhance his initiative by gaining another tempo in a game built largely on small, accumulated tempo advantages. One possible line of play is 42 Kg4, Rd5; 43 h5, threatening a deadly advance of the h-pawn against Kasparov's pinned g-pawn. Checks with Kasparov's rook seem to offer only temporary relief, and a retreat of his king to the rear rank will allow Karpov to threaten a classic checkmate situation and win a pawn. E.g.: 43 . . . Kg8; 44 g6, Kf8; 45 Rf7ch, Kg8; 46 Rc7, Kf8; 47 Rxc6. The c-pawn would be won even more quickly after 44 . . . Rd8; 45 Rc7.
White/Black -- Karpov/Kasparov
1. d4d5 2. c4e6 3. Nc3Be7 4. cxd5exd5 5. Bf4Nf6 6. e30-0 7. Nf3Bf5 8. h3c6 9. g4Bg6 10. Ne5Nfd7 11. Nxg6fxg6 12. Bg2Nb6 13. 0-0Kh8 14. Ne2g5 15. Bg3Bd6 16. Qd3Na6 17. b3Qe7 18. Bxd6Qxd6 19. f4gxf4 20. exf4R(a)e8 21. f5Nc7 22. Rf2Nd7 23. g5Qe7 24. h4Qe3 25. Rd1Nb5 26. Qxe3Rxe3 27. Kh2Nb6 28. Ng3Nc8 29. Nf1Re7 30. Rd3N(c)d6 31. Ng3Ne4 32. Bxe4dxe4 33. Re3Nxd4 34. Kh3Re5 35. Kg4h5ch 36. Kxh5Nxf5 37. Rxf5R(8)xf5 38. Nxf5Rxf5 39. Rxe4Kh7 40. Re7b5 41. Rxa7b4 42. White seals move, game adjourned