Game 8 of the world chess championship adjourned last night in New York with defending champion Gary Kasparov in trouble for the second game in a row. As in Game 7, Kasparov's first loss in the 24-game match, the champion's problems can be attributed largely to his impatience as well as to challenger Anatoly Karpov's brilliant defense.
Kasparov is white in Game 8, and for a while he used the initiative that goes with the first move to launch an attack on Karpov's king. But by adjournment time Kasparov's attack had been blunted and Karpov had an extra pawn -- part of a formidable-looking pair of linked passed pawns that were poised to march down the queenside.
Kasparov was the one who sealed the last move of the day. The final diagram shows him enjoying the momentary (and illusory) advantage of an extra bishop, and his rook and queen have dangerous-looking positions attacking the black king. But Kasparov's king is in check, sharply limiting his choice of moves; his bishop is ready to be captured, and, lacking time to launch a new attack, he is reduced to looking for a draw.
The game turned around near the end of the day's play, with Karpov making his last 13 moves in less than five minutes. When he began these moves, he seemed to have little chance of surviving; experts in the Hotel Macklowe Conference Center were predicting disaster. When the dust settled and the adjourned position could be examined, some grandmasters began talking about Kasparov as the underdog. Former world champion Mikhail Tal and Soviet emigre Leonid Shamkovich said they thought he would escape with a draw, but Shamkovich said the champion was "lucky" to have that chance. There was widespread agreement that the closing minutes of the session had been a battle of nerves as much as a tactical exercise and Karpov's nerves had been superior.
"Too much adrenaline; Kasparov has got to calm down," U.S. grandmaster and former world junior champion Maxim Dlugy told Reuter.
The game, scheduled to resume today at 5:30 p.m., began with both sides trying modest innovations, not in chess theory but in the themes of this match. Karpov played the Spanish Defense (or Ruy Lopez) as usual against Kasparov's 1. e4, but it was a variation new to this match. And Kasparov tried an answer that has been played before but not by him.
After some sparring, Kasparov managed to amass a combination of advantages: more space in the center, which meant more maneuverability for his pieces; an alignment of his pieces that focused them on the black king; and an abundance of time for planning, while his opponent's time allocation was nearly used up.
The first 11 moves repeated the beginning of Game 6. After Karpov broke the center with 14. ... d5. Kasparov took nearly three-quarters of an hour to formulate his response. But it was a good one.
Karpov wanted to complicate the situation after 23. ... d4, with the idea 24. Nb3, Bb6; 25. Nxd4, Bxg2, but Kasparov calmly protected his g-pawn with the queen and soon was able to centralize his knight.
Kasparov would have had a winning attack if Karpov had played 27. ... Qxa3, followed by 28. Ng5, but Karpov saw the danger. Still,after 29 moves, Kasparov could have strengthened his attack with a simple 30. Rf3. Instead, he started to play tricks and may have overlooked a strong blockading move: 30. ... f6.
The idea behind this move was that after 31. exf6, black had 31. ... Qd6; 32. Kh1, Qxf6, stopping the attack. This move allowed Karpov to control the black squares, and even though he had very little time, he was able to find a solution to every attacking effort.
Kasparov threw all his pieces at black's king, but Karpov's defense was always a little bit ahead of white and he was even able to win a pawn before the adjournment.
The two players are now tied in the match with a score of 3 1/2 to 3 1/2.
Lubomir Kavalek is a chess grandmaster. Joseph McLellan is a Washington Post staff writer.