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Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense (C61)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nd4

Number of games in database: 991
Years covered: 1851 to 2022
Overall record:
   White wins 47.3%
   Black wins 24.9%
   Draws 27.7%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Efim Geller  6 games
Adolf Anderssen  5 games
Simon Winawer  5 games
Henry Bird  28 games
Jiri Jirka  23 games
Blackburne  22 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Kasparov vs Khalifman, 2002
S Pencil vs G Goltsoff, 1976
Capablanca vs Blackburne, 1914
Anderssen vs M Lange, 1859
V Kahn vs C Hartlaub, 1916
Anderssen vs Dufresne, 1851
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 page 1 of 40; games 1-25 of 991  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Anderssen vs Dufresne 0-1131851BerlinC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
2. H Kennedy vs Staunton 0-1541856Consultation gameC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
3. Owen / Barnes vs Staunton  0-1321858Consultation gameC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
4. Anderssen vs M Lange 0-1191859AnalysisC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
5. R Wormald vs F Burden  0-1271859MatchC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
6. S Boden vs W J Evelyn  1-0291859Casual gameC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
7. R Lichtenscheidt vs M Rossy 0-15518633rd West German Congress-prelimC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
8. G Schnitzler vs C W Vitzthum von Eckstaedt 0-14418644th West German Congress C61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
9. G Vogt vs A Ascharin  1-0441865Dorpat Chess ClubC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
10. De Vere vs Bird 1-04318661st BCA Challenge Cup C61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
11. de Riviere vs E D'Andre ½-½601867ParisC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
12. Winawer vs De Vere 1-0211867ParisC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
13. G MacDonnell vs Bird  1-0191869B.C.A. Challenge CupC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
14. R Wormald vs Bird 1-0211869B.C.A. Challenge CupC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
15. S Boden vs Bird / Dobell 0-1201873LondonC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
16. J Wisker vs Bird 1-0271873London m4C61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
17. J Wisker vs Bird 1-0431873London m1C61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
18. O Gelbfuhs vs Bird 0-1651873ViennaC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
19. Anderssen vs Bird 1-0311873ViennaC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
20. Anderssen vs Blackburne 0-1311873ViennaC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
21. M Fleissig vs Blackburne 1-0331873ViennaC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
22. De Vere vs Bird  1-0181873City of London CC Handicap tC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
23. H Hosmer vs H Kennicott 1-02918743rd American Chess CongressC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
24. J Mason vs Bird  ½-½391875Bird - Mason 1875/76C61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
25. H Davidson vs J Mason  0-16118764th American Chess CongressC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
 page 1 of 40; games 1-25 of 991  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 5 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-22-05  TheGreatNN: Does anyone know the proper defense against 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.Nxd4 ? If 5. ..exd4?? then 6.Qh5 and if 5. ..Bxd4 then 6.c3 Bb6 7.d4 looks like an absolute mess to me. Is 4. ..Bc5 no good?
Nov-23-05  Swapmeet: <TheGreatNN> 5...Bxd4 6.c3 Bb6 7.d4 is not so bad for black after 7...Qf6 or even 7...Qh4.

4...Bc5 is probably black's best chance, but other playable moves with good chances for equality are 4...Qf6 and 4...Nf6.

Dec-02-05  Chess Addict: This is the opening that my dad used to kill me with.
Dec-10-05  Kriegspiel: <Poisonpawns: When white plays 4.Bc4 just play Bc5.>

That can easily lose a pawn: 5.Nxd4 exd4 6.Bxf7+ and if the king recaptures, 7.Qh5+ followed by 8.Qxc5. In any case, Black is a pawn down and has lost the right to castle.

However, if instead 5...Bxd4, White has a nice pawn center after 6.c3 Bb6 7.d4; but it's playable. Here's one continuation in a game with Jester: 7...Qe7 8.o-o d6 9.Re1 Nf6 10.Bg5 o-o 11.Qd3 at which time Jester rated Black at or near parity with White (whatever that's worth -- White may or may not have a sharper line here).


Dec-10-05  Poisonpawns: yeah i forgot ,black can play my Qh4 on 4.Bc4 to
Dec-11-05  Kriegspiel: <Poisonpawns:yeah i forgot ,black can play my Qh4 on 4.Bc4 to>

I really don't follow that. You seem to be saying that after 4.Bc4, Black can play 4...Qh4. That would get the queen captured with 5.Nxh4. The White knight is still on f3 since the bishop moved instead.


Dec-12-05  Poisonpawns: <Kriegspiel> Sorry i wasnt paying attention to the move number I was assuming we were playing the main line birds where white captures the knight.i.e 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Nxd4 exd4 5.o-o Bc5 ....Here I thought you meant 6.Bc4 where I play Qh4. On your 4.Bc4 however on 4.Bc4 Black is = after ..Nxf3 5.Qxf3 Qf6! 6.Qg3 Bc5
Dec-14-05  trumbull0042: With 4.♘xd4 Black has NO advantage.
May-13-06  jperr75108: Good for a suprise weapon.
May-14-06  Holden: Any Ruy Lopez player surprised by this defense hasn't done his homework. Here's a game with 4...Nxd4 5.0-0 c6 6.Bc4 d5 7.exd cxd 8.Bb5+, which comes up in my games as white fairly often: Kasparov vs Khalifman, 2002
Premium Chessgames Member
  WTHarvey: Here is a collection of puzzles in C61 miniatures:
Feb-19-07  southpawjinx: Here is another game I won with white. If I could have played this better please let me know!! [Event " server game"]
[Site " "]
[Date "2007.1.26"]
[Round "NA"]
[White "darthplutonius"]
[Black "Sir knighty knight"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Termination "Black king mated"]
[WhiteElo "1791"]
[BlackElo "1516"]
[Mode "ICS"]
[DateLastMove "2007.2.19"]
[Board "3320340"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Bd3 Nxf3+ 5.Qxf3 Qf6 6.Qxf6 Nxf6 7.Nc3 d6 8.Nb5 Kd7 9.Nc3 Kd8 10.Nd5 Nxd5 11.exd5 f5 12.Be2 e4 13.d4 exd3 14.Bxd3 g6 15.Bg5+ Be7 16.Bxe7+ Kxe7 17.O-O-O Kd8 18.Rhe1 c6 19.dxc6 bxc6 20.Be2 Re8 21.Rxd6+ Kc7 22.Rdd1 a5 23.a4 h5 24.Bf3 Rxe1 25.Rxe1 Bd7 26.h4 c5 27.Bxa8 f4 28.b3 Kb8 29.Be4 Be8 30.Rd1 Kc7 31.Bf3 Bf7 32.Re1 Kd8 33.Re5 c4 34.Bd5 Bxd5 35.Rxd5+ Ke7 36.Rxa5 cxb3 37.cxb3 Kd7 38.Rg5 Ke6 39.Rxg6+ Kf5 40.Rg5+ Ke4 41.a5 Kd3 42.a6 Ke2 43.a7 Kxf2 44.a8=Q Ke2 45.Qf3+ Ke1 46.Re5+ ♗lack king mated 1-0

Feb-19-07  tbentley: I recently played two games on gameknot where my opponents made the same opening blunder: ... 3...Nd4 4. Nxd4 exd4 5. O-O a6 (c6 is better) 6. Bc4 b5? 7. Bxf7+ Kxf7? (although Ke7 is not much better) 8. Qh5+ and eventually I forked the king and rook with Qd5+.
Sep-05-07  Judah: Looks like Bird is taking over the openings of the day. Does he have anything else named after him?

Henry Edward Bird liked to take the game in interesting directions from the start. Bird's Opening (1.f4) always leads to interesting games. This defense to the Ruy Lopez, well, I don't say it makes the game particularly interesting--it usually means an exchange of Knights at the very beginning of the game, but it is a way to take the opponent out of book. Bird was never much of a book player.

Sep-05-07  ganstaman: <Judah: Looks like Bird is taking over the openings of the day. Does he have anything else named after him?>

There's also the Bird's Attack in the Italian game, as seen here: Bird vs Mackenzie, 1882

He had a defininte style to his opening play and play in general, I'm just not sure what it is yet...

Sep-05-07  Monoceros: <Judah: Looks like Bird is taking over the openings of the day. Does he have anything else named after him?>

There's the "Bird Invitation" in the French: 1. e4 e6 2. Bb5. At least that's the term used in one of Eric Schiller's books. At any rate Henry Bird played it a few times and scored well with it.

Mar-09-08  Knight13: I personally don't like this opening. I was playing this to get away from those confusing Ruy Lopez and I lost a lot more games than I've won (the percent wins/losses statistics I have to agree). It's not good for black, in my opinion.
Aug-19-08  Judah: It has its points. It takes off that annoying long-term pressure from the a4-e8 diagonal and after the exchange of Knights, the pawn on d4 can cramp White for a while.
Aug-23-08  drukenknight: another crazy bird's defense, this is based on that gambit line I am promoting

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 Nd4
4. Nxd4 c6
5. Bxc6 dxc6
6. Nf3 Nf6
7. d3 Bg4
8. h3 Bh5
9. g4 Bg6
10. O-O h5
11. Bg5 hxg4
12. hxg4 Qd6
13. Nh4 Bh7
14. Nf5 Qe6
15. Nc3 g6
16. Ne3 O-O-O
17. Kg2 Be7
18. f3 (the losing move?) ...Nxg4
19. Nxg4 Bxg5
20. Nxe5 Bf4
21. Ng4 g5
22. Kg1 f5
23. exf5 Bxf5
24. Re1 Qd6
25. Ne4 Qd4+
26. Nef2

position after 26 Nf2 black to play and demonstrate the superiority of Birds defense-gambit:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Two critical C61 positions from John Emms 'Easy Guide to Ruy Lopez', p.13-14

Geller vs K Klaman, 1949
Position after <17. Rad1>:

click for larger view

<The pressure against Black's isolated d-pawn gives White a very pleasant game.>


Kamsky vs Ivanchuk, 1990
Position after <12.Qh5!>:

click for larger view

Black's airy King position is a cause for major concern.

The game continued ...

Position after <27.Bxf2>:

click for larger view

and White had archived a winning endgame.

Apr-17-10  drukenknight: Bird's defense Gambit. I make an improvement to this and a pretty decent game to show

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 Nd4
4. Nxd4 a6!?

POsitioni after 4...a6 new and improved:

click for larger view

this improvement, previously I had tried 4...c6 and usually white takes Nxc6; the idea now is: the a pawn is most appropriate pawn to gambit as it is weakest, black will get the open a file if 5 Bxa6 exd4, white has a confusing number of options and since the position is still quite simple the gambit is not too risky.

5. Bxd7+ (I had not thought of this but ok I give up the d pawn)

5... Bxd7
6. Nf3 Qe7
7. d3 f5
8. Bg5 Qe6 (Missing Qb4+)
9. exf5 Qxf5
10. O-O h6
11. Be3 O-O-O
12. Nc3 Bd6 (Kb8 is safer; most of blacks moves e.g. 12/13 are based odn the need to attack the K that explains this)

13. Nd5 g5
14. b4 Bc6
15. c4 Bxd5
16. cxd5 Bxb4
17. d4 (I think this dubious)

Position after 17 d4?!

click for larger view

after 17. .. e4
18. Ne5 Ne7
19. g4

the crap pc says black w/ advantage -1.3

instead 17 Qb3 g4 leads to this:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day:
Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 ♘d4
Premium Chessgames Member
  gezafan: The Bird variation isn't bad. Objectively, it may not be as good as 3...a6 or 3...Nf6 but it has its merits.

Since it's not played as often, one's opponent may not be well versed in it. It gives scope for creative play as it's less analyzed than some Ruy lines.

All in all it's worth a look for Ruy players.

Premium Chessgames Member
  gezafan: <drukenknight: Bird's defense Gambit. I make an improvement to this and a pretty decent game to show 1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 Nd4
4. Nxd4 a6!?>

This is an interesting gambit. If white plays 5.Bxa6 black can recapture with the rook, which can then slide to the kingside. If 5.Bxd7+ then 5...Bxd7 gives black development.

5.Ne6 is an amusing attempt but doesn't work.

Nov-04-13  Kikoman: <Opening of the Day>

Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4

click for larger view

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