The Chicago Bears missed a scene of quiet but intense violence when they failed to show up for Game 2 of the world chess championship here today.

The football team, in London for an exhibition game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, was invited and expected to come watch Anatoly Karpov tackle Gary Kasparov at the Park Lane Hotel in Piccadilly, but didn't show. The game they did not witness may be remembered in chess annals as a classic study in the controlled use of power. It was not finished when playing time ran out at 10 p.m., and Karpov sealed his 41st move in an envelope that will be opened when play resumes tomorrow.

The game moved slowly for its first four hours, with both players taking a lot of time to consider their moves in an almost balanced position. Kasparov, playing in the careful, precise way that is usually attributed to Karpov, secured a small edge in the opening and proceeded to tighten the screws slowly without reaching what looked like a clear winning position.

Then, in the last minutes before adjournment, he exploded into violent action -- in the process giving Karpov his first real chances for counterplay, after spending most of the game in a painfully passive mode.

In the adjourned position, Karpov is struggling to hold a draw. His rook is in a position to give check on f2, and he has better chances than Kasparov to coordinate his two pieces, but at the moment his knight is in an exposed and unprotected position, subject to attack by Kasparov's king.

Kasparov, going for a win, managed in the closing minutes of the game to transform a slight positional advantage (a bishop controlling a long diagonal and a rook controlling an open file) into a substantial material advantage: two linked, protected passed pawns. The position will be the subject of intense analysis overnight by teams of experts from each side.

One point that emerged in analysis shortly after the adjournment was that Kasparov, playing quickly under time pressure, missed a winning combination on his 39th move. Instead of playing Ne3 on that move, he could have won material and destroyed Karpov's kingside pawn structure with 39. Rc7, Ke6; 40. Rxd7, Kxd7; 41. Nxe5ch, followed by 42. Nxf3.

In the position as it stands, Karpov may still have some drawing chances after 41 . . . Rf2ch; 42. Kd3, Nd6. But he seems to have little chance of mobilizing his knight and rook for a perpetual check.

The standing-room-only audience that turned out for the first game fell off slightly in Game 2. The ballroom of the Park Plaza Hotel, which has a capacity of about 400 spectators, was approximately three-quarters full, but a near-capacity crowd flocked into the commentary room, where Russian-born Dutch grandmaster Gennady Sosonko, presiding at a large electronic screen, gave a running analysis on the game and possible variations.

Today's game, Kasparov's first with white in this match, began by looking familiar but quickly moved into new territory. The opening (queen's pawn, Nimzo-Indian defense) accounted for three of the five games Kasparov won in that match. The variation Kasparov chose (featuring 5. g3) was the one with which he won the first game of the 1985 match.

The choice of the Nimzo-Indian was Karpov's decision -- a courageous one, in view of his lack of success with it last year. The challenger's decision to use this opening rather than the quieter and more solid queen's gambit indicates that he began the game in a fighting mood. Karpov's fifth move 5 . . . Nc6 is familiar and was recommended by grandmaster Victor Korchnoi, who first thought that it "kills the variation" but later changed his view. Karpov's 6 . . . d5 came as a surprise to Kasparov, who spent more than half an hour thinking about it before choosing to take the pawn. Perhaps more entertaining would have been 7. 0-0.

Kasparov's continuation on the seventh move forced a major liquidation and reduction of tension in the center, and when the dust settled he was left with a slight endgame advantage. He could have kept the queens on the board and maintained pressure with 12. Qe3. But after his 15th move, with his bishop commanding the long diagonal and his knight threatening a double attack on the bishop and the b-pawn from c5, he had the chance at least to keep Karpov uncomfortable and possibly to win a point.

Two small changes were made in the hall. Karpov had the seat of his chair lowered slightly to allow him to see the board better, and a sign advertising Save and Prosper, a bank subsidizing the match, was removed from its place in front of the playing table after members of the audience began making jokes about it.