World chess champion Gary Kasparov and challenger Anatoly Karpov played to a draw by mutual strangulation in Game 19 of the World Chess Championship yesterday in Lyon, France.

It was a game full of paradoxes, in which the usual thematic ideas of the King's Indian Defense were reversed. Kasparov returned to this opening, which he had played frequently in New York, because Karpov was getting bothersome advantages with Kasparov's other main choice, the Gruenfeld. The King's Indian is less enterprising for black, but it is safer, as earlier games have shown. A small slip in the Gruenfeld may lead to a disaster, and at this point in the match, Kasparov is basically satisfied with a draw. He leads the series 10 points to 9.

But this was an unusual King's Indian. White (which usually attacks on the queenside in this opening) pushed strongly supported pawns and a knight into a kingside attack. Black (which normally attacks the castled white king's position on the kingside) instead broke through on the queenside but could not get a clear shot at the white king, which never got around to castling but strolled gradually over to the corner at square h1.

In Game 19, Karpov was not in a mood to test the correctness of the kind of exchange sacrifice Kasparov had created in Game 11, which ended in a draw. Instead, Karpov blocked the center with 8. d5 and tried to prepare a play on the queenside. Kasparov reacted by first activating his black-square bishop, first on h6 and later on f4. This made a kingside castle more difficult for Karpov and prodded him into pawn advances on the kingside.

After the kingside position got blocked at move 25, Karpov was able to hide his king and Kasparov transferred his knight to b7 for action on the queenside. He was willing to give up a pawn on his 34th move to get his knight a commanding position on c5, open up lines on the queenside and launch an invasion with his rook. But just as the action began to be exciting and Kasparov seemed to be developing strong chances for a win, he decided after his 39th move to offer a draw. Draws work to his advantage and he did not wish to risk possible misfortune.

To keep his title, Kasparov need only draw four of the remaining five games. Karpov must win at least two to have any chance of winning. The first player to reach 12 1/2 points receives $1.7 million of a $3 million prize. If the match is tied, Kasparov keeps his title and the two split the pot evenly.

Kavalek is an international grandmaster; McLellan is a Washington Post staff writer.