The third round of the Denker has started, with Trevor Magness of Illinois facing off against the top seed in the tournament, Jeffrey Haskell of Florida. Haskell's team won the U.S. Amateur Championship last year, and this is an encore appearance at the Denker for Haskell, who represented his state in 2007. Trevor and Jeffrey are playing on the fourth board. The top five boards are being broadcast over the internet on Monroi, which also has a nice article with photos on the tournament. (The gentleman in the first photo, with Alabama's Jeffrey Byrd, is Bill Hall, who talked movingly at the opening ceremonies about the impact this tournament had on his life as a young man from a small town in Tennessee.)
As usual, Coach/Manager Dad had much to do between boards: shop for groceries so that appropriate comfort food could be secured for an in-room dinner, exercise with the Illinois Champ so that he can stay in optimal tournament condition, and keep track of developments back at the tournament site. Actually, Trevor did that last part while I took a short nap. And it paid off: we found out around 4:00 p.m. that two players at a higher board than Trevor's had drawn, meaning we could be 99% sure that Trevor would indeed play Haskell. What did this mean for Trevor? It meant he had time to take advantage of opposition research and review Haskell's game style before heading in. But first, we called home so that my daughter (thanks, Caitlin!) could send the appropriate data file, which Trevor then loaded up on to ChessBase--a program that stays on my laptop for useful purposes such as this.
Trevor is playing White this round, which means he gets to move first and set the pace. Trevor plays 1.e4, to which Haskell has historically responded with what is known as the French Defense. Trevor has known the first seven moves of the "French line" like the back of his hand for years now and has further studied it and its variations this past year with his teacher, GM Yury Shulman. One likely path this line will take with Haskell goes to move 12, the other to move 18. In preparation for the game, Trevor reviews these two expected variations of the French Defense before exercising and then again before dinner.
All that remains now is the execution. Let's see if his planning and preparation pay off.