Gary Kasparov launched one of his patented attacks Wednesday but failed to deliver the knockout punch. The champion achieved a good position in the opening of world championship Game 6 and sacrificed a pawn to generate pressure against the black king. The challenger, Anatoly Karpov, would have none of it and put up a stubborn defense as the game headed toward adjournment.
The game will be resumed today in a position that chess computers said Karpov could play to a draw.
Human opinion was divided. Karpov is everything from "dead" to "okay," depending on whose opinion you listened to.
What was clear was that Kasparov had built a superior position only to see his arch-enemy escape _ for the time being.
Opening: Ruy Lopez
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Nd7
Karpov varies from his move in Games 2 and 4, which was Bb7. Nigel Short, a British grandmaster, has beaten Karpov in this variation. Short played 10. d3 in that game; Kasparov, typically, plays a more forcing 10th move.
10. d4 Bf6 11. a4 Bb7 12. axb5 axb5 13. Rxa8 Qxa8 14. d5 Na5 15. Bc2 Nc4
Grandmaster Larry Christiansen said Karpov's last move is a new one. After the next couple of moves, he added, the position is "a little annoying for black."
16. b3 Ncb6 17. Na3 Ba6 18. Nh2 c6 19. dxc6 Qxc6 20. Bd2
Playing 20. Qf3 was seen as a tad more aggressive, so it was something of a surprise that Kasparov didn't play it.
20. . . . Be7 21. Ng4 Ra8 22. Ne3 Nf6 23. Nf5 Bf8 24. Bg5 Nbd7 25. c4 bxc4
The sacrifice of a pawn here activates white's pieces, according to Arthur Bisguier, a chess grandmaster. Karpov is "not losing, but he's getting in some danger."
26. bxc4 Bxc4 27. Nxc4 Qxc4 28. Bb3 Qc3 29. Kh2
This move prevents a forced exchange of queens if black plays Qa8 to meet white's Re3. With the attack in hand, Kasparov wants all his forces on the board.
29. . . . h6 30. Bxf6 Nxf6 31. Re3 Qc7 32. Rf3
32. Rg3 was also a possibility here.
32. . . . Kh7 33. Ne3
The threats are Nd5 or Rxf6.
33. . . . Qe7 34. Nd5 Nxd5 35. Bxd5 Ra7
Black offers to give back the sacrificial pawn, plus exchange his queen for white's rook and bishop by allowing 36. Rxf7. Kasparov refuses, deciding to keep up the pressure.
36. Qb3 f6 37. Qb8 g6 38. Rc3 h5 39. g4 Kh6 40. gxh5 Kxh5 41. Rc8 Bg7 Adjourned.
Kasparov wrote down his 42nd move, which will be sealed until play resumes today. If they choose, the two Soviets may agree to a draw without playing further; they used that option after Game 4 was adjourned.
Was Karpov lucky to get out alive in Game 6? Did Kasparov blunder somewhere in the last seven moves? The answers await the results of some hard calculating overnight by the players and their assistants.
"This is the kind of position you can easily spend 30 hours analyzing. What we say in 10 minutes is meaningless," adjudged grandmaster Edmar Mendis.