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Henry Bird vs Emanuel Lasker
Hastings (1895), Hastings ENG, rd 5, Aug-10
Bird Opening: From Gambit (A02)  ·  0-1



Annotations by Joseph Henry Blackburne.      [148 more games annotated by Blackburne]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-14-03  Samuel Maverick: Mr. Bird is just under even when playing the white side of his opening in the games in this database.
Jan-14-03  PVS: There seems to be little to recommend this opening at the GM level.
Jan-15-03  Sylvester: Yeah, you might say this opening is strictly for the birds!
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Morning: Did you check out the annotations? "...or it may be this opening is not suited to his attacking style."

The Bird? Not suited to Bird?

Mar-30-06  who: <...or it may be this opening is not suited to his attacking style.> Interesting that Blackburne made no mention of this in his own games - Bird vs Blackburne, 1886, Bird vs Blackburne, 1888, and Bird vs Blackburne, 1892.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <An Englishman> Blackburne is referring to From's Gambit, not 1 f4.
Apr-30-07  cloybloy: One lesson that may be gathered from this exercise is not to use this opening against world champions... ;)
Apr-30-07  Marmot PFL: Horrible game by Bird. Taking the b pawn, risky or not would still have been much better than 11.Bxe5, weakening the dark squares for nothing, which blackburne doesn't even comment on. Ideas like weak square complexes weren't really articulated before Nimzovich it seems, although players like Lasker understood them intuitively.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <cloybloy: One lesson that may be gathered from this exercise is not to use this opening against world champions... ;)>

Given that I love this opening so much, I was going to post games where the Bird was played successfully against a world champion. I may be missing some games, but here' generally what I found:

When a WC played the black side of a Bird, he won or drew the game. When a WC played the white side of a Bird, he won or drew the game. The only time a WC lost as black was when the white player was also a WC.


Since I won't give in just yet, I will only say that seeing a WC win or draw against other players isn't interesting -- it's expected. The opening is still as good as anything else against them if you know it well.

Apr-30-07  jackpawn: I can't help mentioning - Lasker played Bird quite a bit in the early 1890's. Lasker of course had the much better of it, but Bird (and remember, he was an old man at this point) seem to give Lasker a much harder time than he gave Morphy 30+ years earlier - at a time when Bird should have been at the peak of his career.

I'm not trying to put Lasker down. I think he was truly one of the all-time greats, but I think often people forget what a huge talent Morphy was. If he had continued playing the whole history of chess would have changed. Stenitz probably never becomes champion, perhaps Lasker reign is delayed, etc.

Apr-30-07  Marmot PFL: Morphy was way ahead of his time. Probably the last player who could give pawn odds to all other players (except maybe Anderssen). Not much in this game from Lasker's side that Morphy couldn't also have played.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Bird was not at his peak in the 1850s, when he played Morphy. He probably played his best chess in the 1870s. He was still pretty strong in 1895, viz. Steinitz vs Bird, 1895. Nor do I agree that Morphy had it easier against Bird than Lasker did. They both dominated him.

Trying to gauge how Morphy and Lasker would have fared against each other by looking at games against a (far weaker) common opponent 35+ years apart is a fool's errand anyway. Kolisch beat Barnes 10-0 in the early 1860s; does that make Kolisch better than Morphy?

I have spent a lot of time studying Morphy's and Lasker's games. Lasker did things on the chessboard Morphy never dreamed of. Chess did not stop developing in 1858. If Morphy had kept playing, well, who knows? If Marlowe hadn't been stabbed maybe he would have topped Shakespeare. (Hmmm, perhaps I should have phrased that differently...) Anyway, it doesn't mean Hamlet isn't a better play than Dr. Faustus.

May-01-07  jackpawn: I was simply trying to state, perhaps not well, that Morphy was a huge talent. Such a talent would have easily adjusted to the march of progress in chess at the time. Would Stenitz be able to compete against such a talent? I doubt it. Would Lasker in the early 1890's? Perhaps. Morphy would have been in his mid-50's by then and probably past his peak.

It's all a moot point anyway, unless you find a way to reinvent time!

Mar-12-08  Knight13: Extreme passiveness???
Mar-12-08  mistreaver: <but who would recognise Mr. Bird's play? He evidently was out of form this day, or it may be this opening is not suited to his attacking style.>
that is true i can't believe how many mistakes and strange moves from such a great chess player : 9 Nf1 < Nf3!?>
11 Bxe5?
14 Qd2? (i don't get the idea behind this>
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: <9 Nf1 - Nf3!?> 8 ... Qe7 threatened 9 ... Nxd3+ regaining the Pawn and making the White King move. Bird could have tried 9. Ndf3 but perhaps he wanted the Bg2 to pressure the Pb7.

The final position is very sad for the White pieces.

Jan-25-21  W Westerlund: These were interesting times. Morphy dominated absolutely everybody, then Th. Barnes appeared. He was a really strange character, the 'inventor' of 1.f3 and 1.e4 f6 (which he essayed against Anderssen no less). Barnes was not a pivotal figure in the history of chess - others would come who were much stronger than him. The evolution that chess would take would become much clearer. However, Barnes already had a positional understanding of chess that Morphy did not possess. In this, he was quite unique. In 1857, it was Barnes who was ahead of his time, not Morphy.

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