Hikaru and Pascal Lead in Montreal
By Jennifer Shahade   
August 27, 2008
GMs Pascal Charbonneau and Hikaru Nakamura
 Nakamura Photo by Betsy Dynako
GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Pascal Charbonneau are leading the Montreal International Empresa (August 24-September 2) with 2.5/3 each. Check out the official website and Hikaru's blog for more info. Games are live on the Internet Chess Club at 5 PM EST except for the last round, at 2 PM EST.

 After a first round draw to U.S. Champion Yury Shulman
, Hikaru defeated Varuzhan Akobian and IM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon.

Can you find Hikaru's winning move in the following position against "Var"?
Position after 30...Kxd6

Show Solution

GM Pascal Charbonneau is taking time off work on Wall Street to return to his hometown and chess. So far, Pascal should be feeling good about his "chess break."  He drew in round two to French GM Igor Nataf and defeated Canadian IM Igor Zugic yesterday. Pascal's third round-win over Zugic featured a dominant knight vs. bishop endgame. "I thought after I had knight vs.bishop, it would be a breeze to win, but I found it very hard to break through."

Position after 58.Rd6

58.Rd6 was the critical breakthrough and ended up winning easily after 58...Rxd6 59. exd6 Kxd6 60. Kd4 Ke7 61.b5 Bd5 62. Rxa6 when Black is in zugzwang. A trickier try for Black after 61. b5 was axb5 62.Ra7 Kd6!? 63.Nxb7+ Ke7 but white wins with 64.Na5! Rxa7 65.Nc6 Kd7 66.Nxa7 b4 67. Kc4  Another try is 60...Bc8, preventing b5 by keeping the pressure on the c5-knight.

 Before allowing Pascal to zero in on his targets with a4 and Nb3, Pascal thinks Zugic should have played the unaesthetic 33...Nc4, followed by Bb7-d5, when despite his "great knight", White will have a hard time finding any targets.
Montreal Empresa

Standings after three rounds

1-2. Pascal Charbonneau
and Hikaru Nakamura- 2.5/3
3-4. GM Yury Shulman and Varuzhan Akobian-2/3
5-6. GMs Mark Bluvshtein and GM Igor Nataf- 1.5/3
7-8. GMs Sebastian Maze and Anton Kovalyov- 1/3
9-10. IM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon and IM Igor Zugic-1/3