"I feel today it will be my day," Anatoly Karpov, challenger in the World Chess Championship match, said in a phone conversation from New York yesterday morning. "I am tired of letting him {defending champion Gary Kasparov} escape all the time."

But later in the day, in Game 7 of the match, Karpov let Kasparov escape again from a clearly losing situation. He did not forfeit his winning chances, however, and the game was adjourned after 43 moves with Karpov in a clearly winning position.

Although Karpov wrote down his 44th move and placed it in a sealed envelope, it is likely that Kasparov will resign before play is scheduled to resume today. Winning the rook endgame with an extra pawn is a matter of technique and should be easy for the former world champion.

Thus far Kasparov leads in the match by a score of 3 1/2 to 2 1/2. A victory for Karpov would tie the match at 3 1/2 to 3 1/2, with five draws and one victory apiece. The $1.7 million first prize goes to the first player to reach 12 1/2 points in the 24-game match, with $1.3 million going to the loser. Kasparov keeps his title in case of a 12-12 draw. This was the result of the last match three years ago in Seville, Spain, and it looks more probable now than it did a few days ago when Karpov was trailing and playing below his best form.

Game 7 began in a familiar mode, repeating the first seven moves of the King's Indian defense as in Game 5. It was Kasparov, impatient and enterprising as usual, who tried something new (8. ... Ng4), but Karpov secured an early advantage with his 12th move, fixing an inflexible pawn center of the kind that he likes and Kasparov hates.

By his 27th move, Kasparov had already spent an hour and 50 minutes of the 2 1/2 hours he has for 40 moves, indicating that he might be tired or not thinking as quickly and sharply as usual. His 27. ... Qa5 was a blunder, overlooking a tactical shot, 28. Nd5. He could not play 28. ... Qxd2 because of 29. Nxf6ch, winning a piece. His only defense was 28. ... Qc5ch, with the idea of 29. Be3, Bg5, hoping that after many exchanges of pieces he would come out roughly even.

At this point, both players missed a brilliant idea suggested in an instant analysis by British grandmaster Nigel Short: 30. Nf4! This opens several possibilities: A: 30. ... Qe5; 31. Bd4, Qxe4; 32. Rce1 wins outright, or B: 30. ... Bxf4, 31. Rxf4, Qa3; 32. Rf6, Re8; 33. Rcf1, with a mating attack on the weak squares around black's king.

Instead, Karpov won a mere pawn, but that looked sufficient to give him a victory after a more prolonged effort.

From New York, Reuter reported that Kasparov sat slightly slumped in his chair, sad and red-faced for the last few moves of the playing session.

Yasser Seirawan, one of the leading American grandmasters, said Kasparov had made one of the worst blunders of his career. "Kasparov self-destructed -- Karpov didn't even play well. Kasparov just made two horrible moves," Seirawan told Reuter.

Before his blunder, Kasparov seemed to be doing fairly well. He exchanged his weakest minor piece with his 15th move and on move 18 forced white to exchange his bishop for a knight, securing the advantage of two bishops against bishop and knight. But that move later turned out to be a weakening of Kasparov's kingside.

After 20 moves, it was Karpov's turn to play awkwardly. Instead of 21. b3 and then doubling his heavy pieces on the d-file, he started to maneuver with his rook. With his 23rd and 24th moves, Kasparov neatly blasted Karpov's effort to bring a rook to d3. Karpov had to admit that his rook was out of place and bring it back to c1. On the 26th move, he advanced his f-pawn mainly out of necessity, because Kasparov was ready to launch a dangerous pawn attack on the kingside with 26. ... g5.

Game 8 is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Monday, with Kasparov playing white.

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