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Wilhelm Steinitz vs Henry Bird
London (1899), London ENG, rd 14, Jun-17
Dutch Defense: Rubinstein Variation (A84)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-13-05  Jaymthetactician: Quite a nice draw by Bird, I don't see why ...b6 is played more often in the dutch. I have a similiar game to this with 1.d4,f5 2.Nc3,Nf6 3.Nf3,e6 4.e3,b6
Feb-21-08  Knight13: It looked like White was gonna dominate the center and then came ...Nh5! traded down pieces and draw....
Apr-04-08  Knight13: Very solid defense.

<Quite a nice draw by Bird> Yes. Very smooth.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: As Knight13 pointed out nearly nine years ago on this site, the key moment of this brief game was Bird's 11...Nh5. While the best move was probably 11...e5, there is no doubt that by 11...Nh5 Bird was able to trade off most of the pieces and get a quick draw. But there is more to Bird's move than meets the eye.

This move might well have been played in this position by David Janowski, but probably not for a draw. After Steinitz' 12. g4, Janowski--rather than seeking to trade off the house--would likely have gone for an attack and a sacrificial combination with 12...Qh4. The game could then have turned into the sort of tactical duel in which Janowski excelled (e.g., 12...Qh4 13. gxh5 RxR+ 14. QxR Rf8 15. 15. Bf4 [the only chance to maintain any significant edge] e5 16. dxe5 Nxe5 17. Bc2 Qxh5 18. Qf2 Ba6).

Bird's actual choice of 12...RxR+ 13. QxR Nf6 could have led to trouble had Steinitz played 14. Qh3 (Fritz gives this as a win for White). After Steinitz' actual move...the lame 14. g5 (and his even lamer 18. Be3--rather than 18. a3)--Bird achieved his goal of simplification with ease. Bird had a second chance to try the Knight sac idea on his 13th turn (with 13...Qh4), but the manic attack I am considering never happened.

In short, Bird's 11...Nh5 worked like a dream for him against Steinitz, but the possibilities opened up by this move could have been fantastic.

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