Game 3 of the 1990 World Chess Championship match ended in a draw last night, following a hard-hitting opening and middle game that included a queen sacrifice the night before. After their overnight study of a complex adjourned position, neither defending champion Gary Kasparov nor challenger Anatoly Karpov could see his way clear to a victory. Kasparov's brilliant, sacrificial attack had been turned aside by Karpov's defensive skill -- but not before a lot of bloodshed.

In the endgame Kasparov, playing black, realized that he could hope for no better than a draw and began to reduce the material on the board to a minimum, making a win impossible. Nevetheless, there were still some fine tactical points. For example, after 44. ... b5, Karpov could not capture on b5 twice with 45. Bxb5, Nxb5; 46. Rxb5 because of 46. ... Bd3ch, forking the rook and king. Karpov's 48. Nxe3 was an admission that he would be satisfied with a draw. Otherwise, he could have tried 48. Be2, but that move did not look very promising. Kasparov's 49. ... g4 was the quickest way to force a draw.

Karpov's exchange of rook for bishop, 53. Rxd8ch was an appropriate final move for a game that had exchange sacrifices as a dominant theme. If Karpov had played 53. Kxg2 he would have lost his rook and the game after 53. ... Be4ch. Even if he had captured the knight (54. Kf2, Bxa8; 55. Kxe2), black could still have tried for a win. In tournament experience, there have been many games where a pair of bishops won against a single knight. So Karpov sacrificed his rook for the right piece and there was not enough material left on the board for either side to win.

Earlier, Kasparov had offered a queen sacrifice twice, on his 14th and again on his 15th move. The second time Karpov took the queen in exchange for a rook and a knight, and then had to withstand an overwhelming attack. He did everything right, and then it was Kasparov's turn to make a mistake; the champion became more greedy (or ambitious) than his position justified, and at adjournment he was the one working under a disadvantage.

So far in the 24-game match, being played in New York this month, Kasparov is leading 2-1. Game 4 is scheduled to be played tonight.

Lubomir Kavalek is a chess grandmaster. Joseph McLellan is a Washington Post staff writer.