The New York leg of the world chess championship has ended with challenger Anatoly Karpov saying Friday he is confident of victory and champion Garry Kas-parov snubbing a final press conference to avoid talking about his mistakes.

The first 12 games of the championship ended in a draw Wednesday and the final 12 games begin in Lyon, France, Nov. 24.Kasparov canceled his participation in a final New York press conference without giving a reason for his decision. But sources close to him told Reuters Kasparov was reluctant to face questions about mistakes he had made in the match.

In the only previous split match, London-Leningrad in 1986, both players attended the interval press conference.

Karpov arrived at Friday's news conference at the Hotel Macklowe looking more relaxed and confident than at any time in the five weeks spent battling in Manhattan.

Dressed casually in a beige jacket over a sweatshirt dedicated to "50 years of Glasnost" at Harvard's Russian Studies Center, he exuded optimism.

In a conversation with Reuters, Karpov admitted he was happy to be heading for the decisive leg in France tied with Kasparov.

"There was no serious reason to believe Kasparov would have a big lead; it was just noise as usual," Karpov said.

"I probably missed more chances. We counted the other day - I had serious chances to win in eight of the 12 games."

The challenger, who held the world title for 10 years before being deposed by Kasparov in 1985, said he had no regrets and looked forward to the final half of the contest.

He said the two weeks that will be used to transfer the match to Europe would be spent: "Resting, naturally. And it is no secret that Kasparov and I will be doing a lot of chess work."

Speaking about the match as a whole, Karpov said, "We're human and entitled to mistakes but I would not say the quality of play has been low. The fourth game was very interesting, very exciting - a nearly perfect game."

Pressed about the dynamics of his bitter rivalry with Kasparov, the challenger admitted that both men benefited from their conflict.

"Of course Kasparov became great because he beat me," Karpov said with a laugh.

"It is clear we are the two best players, the best of our time. Kas-parov must adapt and develop his play for me and I must do the same. Our styles are changing from playing each other. This is clear."

Asked to admit that Kasparov had benefited the game with his flamboyance, Karpov replied, "You are trying to persuade me to love Kasparov the way a mother tries to persuade a child to go to sleep.

"Kasparov is world champion - he brings excitement to chess simply by existing. I respect him as a player. As a personality, I have said my opinion before and don't want to repeat that."