A game that may go into history as the most somnolent of this year's world chess championship match ran its quiet, cautious course for 21 moves and then ended in a draw yesterday in Seville, Spain.
The draw in Game 14 leaves world champion Gary Kasparov ahead of challenger Anatoly Karpov by a score of 7 1/2 to 6 1/2. The match will be won by the first player to win six games or score 12 1/2 points. Kasparov has three wins against two for Karpov, with nine draws.
Kasparov can hold his title if he draws nine of the 10 remaining games. So he suggested a draw after his 21st move, not only because he could see no better prospects but because each draw moves him closer to his goal. Karpov accepted quickly; he could hope for nothing better in this game, and in the next 10 games (five in which he plays white) he needs to win at least two.
Kasparov surprisingly repeated the variation he had played against Karpov's Caro-Kann Defense in Game 10. This probably means he sees some chance of seizing an advantage in this opening, but he seized no such thing yesterday. Karpov played super safe, offering a queen exchange with his 9. ... Qd5. But this was merely a strong centralizing move, after which he could develop his kingside smoothly.
The main strategic defense for black lies in protecting against the pawn push d4-d5. Once he succeeds, as Karpov did in today's game, there is nothing left but shadowboxing.
Karpov took his place at the board five minutes late, a gesture that analysts interpreted as an attempt to irritate the champion. But Kasparov played with equanimity -- also with speed, running through his first 10 moves in six minutes.
Kasparov's last three games with white have resulted in unusually fast draws, barely overstepping the 20-move mark. At the scene in Seville's Teatro Lope de Vega, experts had different opinions about this cautious strategy. Yugoslav grandmaster Ljubomir Ljubojevic, the sixth-ranked player in the world, found it "very practical," but Bjarke Kristensen, a Danish international master, said: "It's a bad strategy. Kasparov's natural style with white is far more aggressive. A win today would have given him a crushing lead."
Norwegian grandmaster Simen Agdestein called the game "unexciting."
"It seems the only fighting games are when Karpov is playing white," he said.
Grandmaster Lubomir Kavalek contributed to this report