It had to happen sooner or later. After four games that brought fans to the edge of their seats, the combatants in the world chess championship came up with a snoozer of a draw Monday night in Manhattan's Hudson Theatre.
Anatoly Karpov, the challenger, didn't seem to want to win _ notwithstanding that he had the advantage of the white pieces _ and Gary Kasparov, the champion, looked like he wanted only not to lose.
It's easy to forget, with all the pyrotechnics of the previous matchups, that this is how high-level chess usually works: draw after draw after deadly dull draw.
Kasparov did achieve a victory of sorts though. By drawing he maintained his one-point lead now at 3-2. Game 6 of the best-of-24 match is scheduled for today.
Opening: King's Indian
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. Be3
7. dxe5 doesn't win a pawn because of 7. . . . dxe5 8. Nxe5 Nxe4 9. Nxe4 Bxe5.
7. . . . Na6
Grandmaster Patrick Wolff noted that Kasparov has "made a point of deviating from whatever Karpov" might be expecting. The last time this opening appeared, in Game 3, Kasparov played 7. . . . Qe7.
8. O-O c6 9. dxe5
By the time Karpov played this, he had used 31 minutes to Kasparov's two. Wolff said, "Karpov has a reputation of having a very bad memory."
9. . . . dxe5 10. Qxd8 Rxd8 11. Rfd1
With this, the challenger may be aiming to take the bat out of Kasparov's hands. Trading off pieces would leave Karpov with three advantages, according to Wolff. The white pieces are more active, better developed and have more room to operate.
"Karpov is famous for being able to squeeze opponents" _ taking small advantages and wearing down the enemy, Wolff said.
11. . . . Re8 12. h3
The metaphors of chess are sometimes inelegant. 12. h3 prevents black's pieces from intruding, prompting Wolff to call Karpov "the greatest prophylactic player in the history of the game."
Former world champion Boris Spassky was not as sanguine about white's position, however, saying Karpov was in danger of slipping into an inferior game.
12. . . . Bf8 13. Nd2 b6 14. a3 Nc5 15. b4 Ne6 16. Nb3
16. Nf3 was given as a more aggressive alternative by the masters, but aggression is not Karpov's strong suit.
16. . . . Ba6 17. f3 Nh5 18. Bf2
This is about as tame a set-up as the two Soviets have reached so far in the match. Neither side has any pieces on his opponent's half of the board.
White's last move, typical retrenching by the challenger, serves notice that "you can do all the fancy footwork, but I believe in the solidness of my position," grandmaster Larry Christiansen said.
18. . . . Red8 19. Bf1 Nhf4 20. g3 Nh5 21. Kg2 f5 22. Rab1 Rac8
"I think they're pushing their positions to the limit to get at each other," Wolff said. They didn't get very far.
23. Rxd8 Rxd8 24. Rd1 Rxd1 25. Nxd1 fxe4 26. fxe4 c5 27. bxc5 Nxc5 28. Nxc5 Bxc5 29. Bxc5 bxc5 30. Nc3 Nf6 31. Kf3 Bb7 32. Bd3 Kf8 33. h4 h6 34. Bc2 Ke7 35. Ba4 a6
Before moving Kasparov opened his eyes wide and scowled as if to acknowledge that the position was dead.
Wolff said, "Karpov has failed, dismally, to squeeze any kind of advantage in this position."
36. Ke3 Drawn on Karpov's offer.
Roman Dzindzichashvili _ pronounce it zin-she-hosh-villy and you'll be close _ was one of the grandmaster annotators for Game 5.
"I had to talk, unfortunately," he said. "There was nothing to talk about."
And that, for this match, is a first.