Game 12 of the world chess championship passed quietly into history last night in New York, and defending champion Gary Kasparov and challenger Anatoly Karpov prepared to move to France, where they will resume hostilities Nov. 24.
The perennial adversaries, who are only one point apart after more than 130 championship games in the past five years, will begin their next dozen games in Lyon with a score of 6-6 after what some French commentators are calling "the preliminary to the world championship match." While the score is even, however, each draw slightly favors Kasparov, who will keep his championship if he reaches a score of 12 points. That can be done simply by drawing the remaining 12 games; Karpov must win at least one more game to recapture the title he lost in 1985.
As usual, Karpov played the Ruy Lopez against Kasparov's 1. e4, and for the third time, Kasparov chose a new 12th move. This time, trying to pressure black's b-pawn, he forced an immediate reaction from Karpov in the center. Karpov's defensive maneuvers had already been played in a similar position by Nigel Short against Michael Adams last year, but Short did not give up his f-pawn as Karpov did.
The lack of this pawn created a weakness on the square e6 which Kasparov tried to exploit with 20. Bd5, offering the exchange of bishops. Karpov's reaction was forced. After 20. ... c6, Kasparov wisely did not accept the poisonous gift of the b-pawn. With 21. Qxb4, Rb8; 22. Ba2, c5; followed by 23. ... Bxf3, white's queenside pawn structure collapses. Instead, he kept pressure on black's position, having more space and more possibilities for maneuvering. Karpov's position was inferior but solid.
In his five-move sequence starting with 24. Bh5, Kasparov looked as though he had lost the thread of his logic. His bishop and queen maneuvers did not improve his position. Instead, it was Karpov who quickly worked his knight into a dominant position on d5, which he followed with a freeing break, 29. ... c5 that opened the position for a lot of tactical tricks. After 34. ... Bd5, Karpov seemed to be walking a tightrope, challenging Kasparov to knock him off balance.
Not having much time, Kasparov passed over an interesting tactical possibility: 36. Bd6. This move would have given Karpov several chances for fatal errors: for example, 36. ... Rxd6; 37. Nf7ch, Rxf7; 38. Re8+ and mate. Or 36. Bd6, Rxe1+; 37. Rxe1, and if 37. ... g6, 38. Re8+, Kg7; 39. Bf8+, Kg8; 40. Bh6, mate.
As the game was actually played, there was not much he could do. Karpov had as a defense 38. ... Nc8 and might even have better chances later because of his pawn majority on the queenside. Kasparov may have looked at these possibilities and realized that Karpov would play very simply 36. ... Bxg5; 37. Bxe7, Bxc1. In this position, there are still some shots for white, but black can parry them.
Lubomir Kavalek is a chess grandmaster. Joseph McLellan is a Washington Post staff writer.