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Henry Bird vs James Mason
Bird - Mason Match (1875/76), New York USA, rd 13, Jan-03
Four Knights Game: Ranken Variation (C48)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: This was an up-and-down game. Bird had some chances early on.

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Here he played 23. Kh1, but 23. Qh5! looks very strong.

A bit later he is more or less forced into sacrificing a knight.

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This should have won fairly quickly, but predictably Bird makes a right pig's ear out of it.
A little later and Black is on top.

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And 55.g7? doesn't help.
Mason plays a shock move!

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This leads to Black being a clear knight+pawn ahead.
In this position...

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Mason seemed to think that if he played 73...Kxe4, then the knight was pinned, so after 74.f7 he could not play 74...Nxf7. That is true, but he could have played 74...Rf3 and ...Rxf7(or f8).

He could have played the neat 73...Nxc4, because if 74.f7 then ...Rb1#!
A little later it was last chance saloon:

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Mason played 76...Rh2?
There was a draw by perpetual check:
76... Rc2+
77. Kb1 Rxc4
78. f7 Kd2!!
79. f8=Q Rc1+

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80. Kb2 Rc2+
81. Kb3 Rc3+...=
Right at the very end, Bird does well to find the only winning move, while his rook is attacked:

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I leave the student to look upwards and see the answer for himself.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: 80.?

The student must know the rule: "Two connected passed pawns on the sixth rank are stronger than a rook." This would certainly apply to connected pawn(s) on the 7th rank as well.

I must say that after White promotes, tackling that glob of Black pawns on the queenside having the help of a rook is not very appealing, but it sure beats losing. Q vs R is plenty enough to think about after such a long haul.

& _ & _ & _ & _

Thank you for reviewing this game <offramp>. It was a hard-fought contest.

That breakthrough on the kingside wing was not as easy as I thought it would be. White had the superior pawn structure, but the navigating was not so clear. Personally, I have never enjoyed defending positions were the backward pawns of the castled king have been elevated from the 7th to the 6th rank, but Mason held his own.

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