Grandmaster Jan Timman and former world champion Anatoly Karpov drew the fifth game of their match for the FIDE (International Chess Federation) world championship yesterday in Arnhem, Netherlands. It was the third consecutive draw between the two players, but hard- fought and exciting.
For much of the game, there was an interesting dynamic imbalance on the board, with Karpov playing two bishops, a knight and scattered kingside pawns against Timman's two rooks and well-organized kingside pawns. Timman had a powerful attack, but Karpov - one of the game's great masters in the art of not losing - played a spectacular defense and saved a half-point. The match is tied at 2 1/2-2 1/2, with victory going to the first player who scores 12 1/2 points.
Timman, playing white, opened with his c-pawn, steering the game away from the minefields of the Caro-Kann Defense, which Karpov has played in two previous games. The game developed into one of the least-analyzed lines of the English Opening, and Timman built up a substantial advantage in his first two dozen moves before beginning to falter with 30. Rc4, followed by a tactical shot on the g-file that eventually left his rook in a cage of pawns - mostly his own. He might have been better advised to delay his shot for a while and continue consolidating. 30. d4 would have been a better move, and after Karpov's reply (probably 30. ... Bd6), white's control of the board could be increased by 31. Bd3.
Karpov's defense was masterful. First, his odd-looking move 29. ... Rb7 avoided a trap. 29. ... Bxc6; 30. Rxc6 would have given Timman a winning position. Then, Karpov found the only answer to the rook attack on the g-file. If, instead of 31. ... Ng5, he had played 31. ... Kh8, Timman would have won with 32. Nxf6, simultaneously threatening 33. Rg8, mate and 33. Nxe8. After Timman returned the exchange (rook for knight) with 46. Rfxc4, at the same time eliminating a dangerous black passed pawn, the draw became almost inevitable. The alternative 46. Rd4 would have been risky, allowing Karpov a discovered check, 46. ... f4, dis. ch.
Timman's decision to accept a draw was clearly signaled in moves 52-55 by his repetition of the same positions with the rook shuttling between f4 and a4. It was a prudent choice; a draw after building up such an advantage was a disappointment, but a loss would have been devastating.
Karpov and Timman play Game 6 of their match on Tuesday in Arnhem. On the same day in London, Gary Kasparov and Nigel Short will play the fourth game of their rival match.
Analysis for this story was provided by a panel of masters at the U.S. Chess Center, including Eugene Meyer.