Challenger Anatoly Karpov unveiled a new strategy in Game 5 of the World Chess Championship match last night: He will try to beat defending champion Gary Kasparov by boring him to death.
In this game, the strategy got Karpov only a draw -- not a particularly distinguished result for the player with white pieces. But with 19 games to go, he may yet get the champion to fall asleep and let his clock run out.
Akiba Rubinstein, one of the strongest chess players of the early 20th century, once said that it takes three mistakes to lose a game. Modern observers have found that it takes three games in a 24-game world championship match to establish the main defense a player will favor. In Game 5 of the 1990 match, playing black for the third time, Kasparov chose the King's Indian against 1. d4 for the third time.
Karpov repeated the same variation as in Game 3, keeping the tension in the center with Be3. This time, Kasparov had chosen the recently popular 7. ... Na6 over the enterprising queen move (7. ... Qe7) he made in Game 3.
On moves 9 and 10, Karpov put the boredom strategy into action. With the queens off the board, Karpov had a clear strategical plan to advance his pawns on the queenside, taking advantage of the black knight's awkward position on the rim, where it could not defend effectively against such a strategy.
By Move 15, Karpov had reached one of his goals. Most grandmasters like to steer games into positions with which they are comfortable and familiar. Karpov, playing white, managed to reach a familiar position that he likes to play with black in the Ruy Lopez. With the 16th move he covered the important square d4.
For the next few moves, both players seemed to be running in place. Yet Kasparov was not without resources. With his 21. ... f5, he showed that he will not simply stand and wait. After a few mysterious rook moves by both sides, Kasparov prevented any pawn breakthrough on the queenside and Karpov did not find anything better than to sweep all four rooks from the board. With a timely strategic move 26. ... c5, Kasparov stuck white with the bad bishop (blocked by its own pawns), but the position offered no chance for either side to play for a win, and in a few moves both players accepted this reality and agreed to a draw.
Otherwise, the most notable aspect of the game was a drastic change in Karpov's sartorial strategy. For the first time, the challenger switched from white to dark red shoes. Analysts are probing the implications.
The match, which Kasparov now leads 3 to 2, is scheduled to resume at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow in New York's Hudson Theatre.
In another venue, the D.C. Open, traditionally the largest annual chess tournament in the Washington area, has had to move at the last minute from Georgetown University to the Ward Building at American University, where games will be played Saturday and Sunday. Late registrations will be accepted at the new site between 8 and 9 a.m. Saturday.
Lubomir Kavalek is a chess grandmaster. Joseph McLellan is a Washington Post staff writer.