Game 6 of the world chess championship, played to a 28-move draw yesterday in Seville, Spain, might be labeled a "return to childhood" for champion Gary Kasparov and challenger Anatoly Karpov. Like writers and artists who draw on youthful experiences to refresh adult perceptions, both players called on early memories for the style of this game.
The game fell into patterns that each had explored and exploited when he was a child prodigy -- patterns into which they now have trouble luring other players because their deadly expertise has become well known.
In his choice of opening, Kasparov remained technically faithful to the English, which he has played each time he had the white pieces in this match. But he and Karpov both avoided the sharp Four Knights Variation, with which Kasparov lost Game 2 and Karpov lost Game 4.
Both players had reasons to be satisfied with their choices -- Kasparov because he managed to convert the English Opening into a Sicilian Defense with the colors reversed; Karpov because he was able to play against it the closed variation, in which he became one of the world's leading masters while still a schoolboy. As a matter of fact, using this variation exclusively, Karpov thrashed some of the best Czechoslovakian players and won a tournament at Trinec when he was only 15. It is still, 21 years later, a system closely fitted to his personal style. Kasparov as a schoolboy was also a master of the Sicilian and now has trouble finding opponents (including Karpov) who will play it against him.
The strategy in this opening is that white strives for active play on the queenside and black counters on the kingside. But the games of former champion Boris Spassky depart from these strategic cliche's. Spassky even tried to counter on the queenside, but primarily his plan was to control all the important squares in the center and to deny white entry on the queenside.
Karpov followed a similar strategy in this game. In the three-move sequence between moves 4 and 6, he established a bishop and queen battery on the diagonal h3-c8. Kasparov's 9. Nd5 seemed like a loss of time, but he had achieved his aim, to open the b-file. Still, he was unable to create anything there, especially after Karpov's timely rook opposition with 17. ... Rab8.
Had Karpov allowed the heavy artillery (queen and rooks) to remain in play, he might have given Kasparov chances to succeed in his strategy. But after the early rook exchanges and 24. ... Qc7, the exchange of queens became inevitable. Without the queens, and with no obvious weakness on either side, Kasparov's proposal of a draw and Karpov's acceptance were understandable.
Game 7, with Karpov playing white, is scheduled to begin on Wednesday. The score now stands at 3 1/2 to 2 1/2 in Karpov's favor. The first player to win six games or to score 12 1/2 points (draws counting half a point) will be the winner of the match. Kasparov keeps his title in case of a tie.
Grandmaster Lubomir Kavalek contributed to this report.