MOSCOW -- Ukrainian Ruslan Ponomariov missed a chance to take a dominating two-game lead over his countryman Vassily Ivanchuk and had to settle for a draw in the fourth game of the finals of the FIDE world chess championship on Saturday.
Ponomariov, who won the first game, now leads the match at the halfway point 2.5-1.5.
As Black, Ponomariov repeated the variation of the Queen's Gambit Accepted that he used in game two. Ivanchuk varied from that game on move six and the position soon resembled something from the Advance Variation of the Caro-Kann Defense.
The winner of the eight-game match will receive $400,000 and the loser $200,000. Ponomariov will have White in game five on Monday.
The players won the right to compete in the finals by emerging from a marathon series of two-game knockout matches involving 128 players late last year in the Kremlin. This format has often been criticized for producing a high number of upsets.
ut it is a favorite of FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who provides the financial backing.
Since 1993, chess has been in a state of civil war with two world champions and two camps at loggerheads. Then-world champion Garry Kasparov broke away from FIDE to form the Professional Chess Association and defended his title twice under its auspices before it was dissolved in 1998.
In 2000, Kasparov lost a title match to Vladimir Kramnik sponsored by Braingames.net, an internet startup company. Kasparov and Kramnik, the world's top two rated players, have repeatedly mocked the FIDE championship as a farce while FIDE has lambasted the Kasparov-Kramnik match as a private sideshow.
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