SEVILLE, SPAIN -- World chess champion Gary Kasparov and challenger Anatoly Karpov sparred lightly to a draw in Game 3 of their championship match here. With Karpov enjoying a one-point edge and Kasparov pulling himself together after his loss of Game 2 on Wednesday, it was a contest where neither player seemed eager to take the kind of chances usually necessary to win.
Except for a slightly more cautious attitude than usual, Kasparov seemed fully recovered from the psychological blow of Wednesday's loss, but in his avoidance of risk he took on some of the qualities usually attributed to his opponent.
For part of the middle game, seven of Karpov's pieces and five of Kasparov's sat on their back ranks, making the game look like a war between pacifists -- or perhaps a struggle of Karpov vs. Karpov. But each of the players had his pieces tensed and ready to spring, waiting for his opponent to show a weakness or make a mistake. Since neither made a mistake or took a risk, the draw was inevitable.
Until his final move, when his g-pawn pushed into enemy territory and attacked Karpov's knight, not one of Kasparov's pieces crossed the middle of the board. Karpov sent his pieces into Kasparov's territory a few times (usually on kamikaze missions), and he managed to double his rooks on the open c-file, but he never seriously threatened to disrupt his opponent's position, and the draw was agreed after 29 moves with nearly all the pieces still on the board. Karpov would have been forced to move his knight to an awkward square (d2 or h4), and then with a simple pawn push (f5), Kasparov could complete the process by which each of the players tied the other into an intricate knot.
Kasparov began the game with a slight disadvantage of mobility -- knights that seemed to have nowhere to go -- but by the end of the game, he had developed a slight advantage and his knight on d6, with a clear shot at e4, was the only piece on the board that seemed to have even a small attacking potential. Karpov's 29. Bd3, threatening to capture the knight if it trespassed across the middle of the board, neutralized that modest threat; then Kasparov's 29. ... g4, driving Karpov's knight to the periphery of the board, eliminated all probability of decisive action from either player.
For the first dozen moves, this game was a replay of Game 1, with the order of moves slightly changed. When they finally departed from that model, the players became slightly more aggressive than in the earlier game, but the position remained essentially closed, rather symmetrical and unexciting. These two games may mean that Kasparov has conquered the troubles with the Gruenfeld Indian Defense that plagued him in last year's match. But they also probably mean that Karpov is holding his new secret weapons against the Gruenfeld in reserve until later.
Game 4 is scheduled for Monday with Kasparov playing white -- a circumstance that usually leads to livelier play. The match will be won by the first player to win six games, or the player who is ahead after 24 games. If the score is even after 24 games, Kasparov keeps his title.