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Fischer, Spassky play to draw

Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky played to a draw Sunday in the 18th game of their $5-million chess rematch, leaving the former American world champion with a four-game lead.

Spassky, playing white, was unable to exploit what some experts said was a slight early advantage, and the players agreed to the draw after the 36th move.

On Saturday, Fischer had widened his lead to 7-3, winning a game that had been postponed from Thursday after doctors found Spassky to be suffering from exhaustion and stress.

The first player to win 10 games takes the $3.35-million first prize, and the loser gets the remaining $1.65-million. Draws do not count.

On Sunday, for the fourth time in the match, Fischer chose to defend with the Queen's Gambit Accepted. Play followed the pattern of earlier games until Spassky varied in the ninth move.

Spassky appeared to have a slight advantage with two extra tempos, or developing moves, but Fischer was able to build a solid defensive position, observers said.

The 36th move left only opposing bishops, kings and pawns on the board, making a draw inevitable.

The delay of Thursday's game was the second interruption of the match, following game 10's postponement on Sept. 17 after Spassky complained of kidney problems. Match officials say rules allow a player four such postponements.

A kidney ailment forced Spassky, 55, to drop out of the last French championship.

In the current match, games are played every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. There are no adjournments, meaning each game must be played to its end.

Spassky, who took a 2-1 lead early in the match, fell behind quickly by making a series of blunders. He has not won since game 12, the first played in Belgrade.

The first 11 games were played at Sveti Stefan, a resort on the Montenegro coast operated by Yugoslav businessman Jezdimir Vasiljevic, who put up the prize money.

Fischer won the world championship 20 years ago by beating Spassky, a Russian who is now a French citizen, in Iceland.

The International Chess Federation stripped Fischer of the title in 1975 because he refused to defend it. The 49-year-old American insists he is playing for the championship again now, but the rematch is not sanctioned by the federation.

Game 18

Spassky Fischer

(White) (Black)

1. d4 d5

2. c4 dxc4

3. Nf3 a6

4. e3 Nf6

5. Bxc4 e6

6. 0-0 c5

7. dxc5 Qxd1

8. Rxd1 Bxc5

9. Nbd2 0-0

10. a3 b5

11. Be2 Bb7

12. b4 Be7

13. Bb2 Nbd7

14. Rac1 Rfc8

15. Nb3 Rxc1

16. Rxc1 Rc8

17. Rxc8+ Bxc8

18. Nfd4 Nb8

19. Bf3 Kf8

20. Na5 Bd6

21. Ndb3 e5

22. Nc5 Ke7

23. h3 Nfd7

24. Nd3 f6

25. Be4 g6

26. f4 exf4

27. exf4 Nb6

28. Nb7 Bc7

29. Nbc5 Nc4

30. Bc1 Nd7

31. Kf1 Nxc5

32. Nxc5 Bb6

33. Bd3 Bxc5

34. bxc5 Be6

35. Kf2 Kd7

36. Bxc4 Bxc4

37. drawn

Final positions

White: Kf2, Bc1, pawns a3, c5, f4, g2, h3.

Black: Kd7, Bc4, pawns a6, b5, f6, g6, h7.