Game 14 of the World Chess Championship, a game full of surprises and fast action, was adjourned yesterday in Lyon, France, in a very complex endgame with an apparent advantage for challenger Anatoly Karpov.
Karpov's king's position is somewhat more secure than defending champion Gary Kasparov's, and in the closing moves of the day, Karpov gave a series of checks that helped him catch up on his time control and demonstrated that he could force a draw if he chose. Then his final move, before Kasparov sealed his 41st move, clearly spurned the idea of a draw and proclaimed that he was going to look for a win.
The possibilities in the adjourned position will be explored in action when play is resumed today, after a night of intense analysis by teams of experts on both sides. Whatever the outcome, the game has already shown all the best elements of modern chess at its highest level, including good opening preparation, careful study of the opponent's usual opening systems, and the use of time as a weapon.
Kasparov picked an unusual opening, the Scotch Game, rather than the usual Ruy Lopez. His choice was rooted in the knowledge that Karpov habitually (as in this game) plays 4. ... Nf6 against the Scotch Game, and with it Kasparov introduced not only a new move but a new strategic idea. The underlying rationale is that even if the opening is not completely sound, your opponent will have to spend so much time trying to find the correct answer that he will run into time trouble (each player is allowed 2 1/2 hours to make 40 moves).
The new strategic plan started with 10. g3. At the cost of a pawn, Kasparov was trying to take advantage of the awkward placement of the black pieces, especially the bishop on a6. Karpov could have kept the extra pawn, but instead (after prolonged thought), he decided to launch an attack on the kingside. The middle game was very rich thematically, with both players attacking simultaneously, Kasparov on the queenside and Karpov on the kingside. Kasparov quickly shifted his queen to the queenside and was able to recapture a pawn. After 19. ... h4, Karpov seemed to be better developed, but this advantage had cost him a lot of time. There was intense time pressure on both sides in the slugfest of punches and counterpunches that began at move 26.
With his 20. ... h3, Karpov threw a mating around the immobilized white king; his check with the knight on e2 would have been a checkmate without Kasparov's sacrifice of the exchange (rook for knight), but Kasparov counterpunched with 25. Nb4, threatening 26. Na6, which would win material. Karpov was forced to open the game up with 25. ... d5. At that point, he had only five minutes left for his remaining 15 moves. Kasparov spent a lot of time on his 27th move while Karpov sat at the board, smiling at him, and then both were in a time scramble.
After 28. ... Qc2, Karpov was able to cover all serious threats. Kasparov began to play for surprises with his strongest piece, the queen, dashing all over the board from the queenside to the kingside and managing to liquidate the thorn in white's position, the pawn on a3. Despite time pressure, both players were able to avoid tactical traps -- for example, 34. ... Rxe3? would have lost to 35. Qg5ch!
With 35. ... Rxe3, at the cost of the exchange (rook for knight), Karpov was able to open Kasparov's king's position. Then, with perpetual check available, he began to launch an attempt to win with his last move before the time control.
The game is scheduled to continue today. Pending its outcome, the match score remains tied at 6 1/2 to 6 1/2. Karpov can win the title and a $1.7 million first prize by reaching 12 1/2 points. Kasparov keeps the title if the match is drawn at 12-12. Lubomir Kavalek is a chess grandmaster. Joseph McLellan is a Washington Post staff writer.