LAS VEGAS (AP) _ After 40 moves and nearly four hours of play, Russian Alexander Khalifman clinched the World Chess Championship title with a draw against Vladimir Akopian.

At the end of Saturday's game, the 27-year-old Akopian stared at a position where he had no chance to win, shrugged his shoulders, and offered his opponent a draw.

Khalifman, 33, thus became chess' 14th world champion. He joins fellow Russians, Anatoly Karpov, whom he just replaced, and Garry Kasparov as the only champions of the last quarter century.

Neither Karpov nor Kasparov participated in the Las Vegas championship due to disputes with the Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE), which provided the $3 million prize for the 100 participants in the monthlong event.

``I don't claim to be the best chess player in the world,'' Khalifman said after the game, ``but it is fact that I just won the World Championship, and it is the only world championship that the chess world has.''

Akopian,of Armenia, tried for a complicated game, but the new champion managed to solve all of the problems and end the match with a score of 3 1/2-2 1/2.

Khalifman earned $660,000, while Akopian settled for $396,000.

Khalifman previously won the championship of Russia, the world's top chess power, but he had never been considered among the world's elite.

Kasparov, generally recognized as the world's top player, has demeaned the knockout format of the tournament, and most of the players who made it to the semifinals, calling them ``tourists'' on his Web site. l