(1) Parrott,K - Skinner,B [D60]
Bronowski Trophy, 05.04.2004
Every Dog Has His Day!
I had rung Geoff Naldrett a few weeks before the match offering to be on standby. This was mainly to spare Geoff having to ring around anxiously on the day of the match and potentially having to default a bottom board. My intention was to attend regardless and stay for an hour or so - to say 'hello' to people and to watch some chess. When Geoff rang me on the day, I was secretly pleased to be participating but also concerned about being able to contribute in a match of such importance.
I arrived at 40 Melton Street - and duly went through the security process, including being given a visitor's badge that had Reason For Visit as CHEST (sic). By coincidence, I travelled up in the lift to the 14th floor with Brian Skinner, who, it turned out, would be my opponent.
I went through the usual procedures - locating where the toilets were, where the food and drink was, confirming the time control details and which end of the room would be housing the lower boards. I chatted with people I knew well, nodded at those I knew on nodding terms, and was studiously ignored by those who studiously ignore people. I felt a little strange as I have feet in both camps - I play for Asphalia in the Commercial League. The views from the room were excellent - you could see the Millennium Wheel, the 'gherkin' and many other London landmarks. You could also see the rain clouds forming in the distance.
My first feeling when I saw the board order was one of relief at avoiding George Monk - he had politely kicked my head in the previous year. I noted that, as expected, ICC had the grading advantage on the top boards but we were outgraded at the lower end. After physically re-arranging the bottom 2 boards so that players could more easily move around during the evening, the match got underway. 1.d4
All pretty bog standard to this point. A position that has been reached many millions of times. I have taken to playing the Exchange variation - the idea is to exert some pressure down the c file in due course. 7...Nxd5
This surprised me - I was expecting exd5 as it gives him more space and diagonals over to my King. 8.Bxe7
If I had known he would play Nxd5 then I might have played cxd5 earlier. This would save a tempo. Next time! Back to the actual game - in a minor way, this was my first real decision. I had made an internal pact that I would refrain from my normal policy of timidity. Frequently, my play exhibits too much caution and fear of shadows. I wanted to be the one who decided where we went in the game. The other thing was more concrete - I wanted control of the centre. 9...Nxc3
OK - the centre is mine, at least for the time being. 10...Qa3
This was played out quickly. After the game, my opponent was critical of this move adding that 'it loses a tempo'. I won't argue with that analysis. 11.Qc2
I decided to get on with my development. Taking on e5 would be daft and if he wants to take on d4 then 'go ahead, mate'. 13...a6
'Hello', I thought. I recognised this type of move. It looked timid and didn't help him get his bishop and rook into the game. I felt like I had the initiative. Past games where I had gradually blown big leads in development crowded into my mind. Please, not this time! 14.Rfe1
The aforementioned tempo is duly spent. 15.Bc4
I like pointing bishops at Kings - and it was my turn to use up a tempo! 15...b5
It hasn't taken long for Black's position to look a lot better. 19.c4
I hadn't worked it all out - but I wanted to get things going on the c file. 19...c5
Oh dear. That wasn't what I had planned! 20.d5
This removed most of the complication - taking on c5 or e5 opens things up for Black. I didn't want that. Besides, a passed pawn might take up my opponent's mental and physical resources. 20...b4
The pin on his rook has gone and my bishop goes back to being a glorified pawn. 23.Bb3
I debated for quite a while about this move. I wanted to get my knight to d3 to attack his weak c and e pawns. I decided to put the rook on f1 - after consultation with my old friend, Mr Hindsight, Red1 might have been better. 24...Rd6
Clearly, Black thought I should have played Red1. Rd6 pleased me. Now that particular rook couldn't defend the c and e pawns. 25.Ne1
Taking the e5 pawn would be met by Re8 and the loss of my own e pawn. 27...a5
Black had less than a minute on the clock for his next two moves - I had more than five. My opponent was clearly under pressure. He had said several times times, "it's one of those games" and taken to sighing. I knew from bitter experience that the last thing that you want when under time pressure is to have to think through complication. I didn't want to back down by withdrawing the bishop - I decided to roll the dice. 29.Nxc5
I was ready for 29...Rxc5 30.Qxc5 axb3 31.axb3 which would give Black two pieces for rook and two pawns. The b4 pawn would be the next target. 30.Nxb7
He made it with seconds to spare. But now I could win the exchange. Fritz recommends 30...Rd7. It would have minimised Black's disadvantage e.g. 31.Nc5 Rdc7 32.Nxb3 Nxc4 and White is a pawn ahead. 31.axb3
Fritz confirms that 31.Nxd6 would have been marginally more clinical e.g. 31...Nxd6 32.Rxc8+ Nxc8 33.axb3. 31...Rb6
Around about now, Geoff Naldrett came over and said, "You need to win for us to win the match". No pressure then! It's a won game if it was correspondence but quickplay is another beast entirely. 34.Rb1
I have spotted the combination that follows. 35...Nb7
Kh6 would have prolonged things, admittedly. My combination wasn't quite faultless! 38.Rc6+
He resigned - a big relief. I like it when opponents resign - it is good for the stress levels. A pair of rooks and the Queens would come off - the passed pawn would cost him his knight. All things considered, my last move was one of the best I have ever played.
Geoff Naldrett said loudly, "Kevin Parrott is the hero". Mike Wickham sportingly tapped me on the arm and said "Well done". Paul Barclay was complimentary about the winning combination. It might be childish to relate but it felt good to be described as a hero, especially as this was my first Bronowski win ever. Insurance had won! Ian Hunnable did his Lazarus impersonation to get the score to 9-7.
Brian Skinner and I chatted afterwards about the game. He showed himself to be a gentleman. Though disappointed with his performance, he was complimentary and courteous. Brian had never lost in the Bronowski before - he had played for Civil Service in the past. We travelled down in the lift together. We made our way to Euston station. He was walking on the ground - I was walking on air!
(Particular thanks to James Aldred for Fritz analysis and help with accuracy). 1-0