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Henry Bird
Number of games in database: 553
Years covered: 1849 to 1899

Overall record: +195 -260 =80 (43.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 18 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Bird's Opening (97) 
    A03 A02
 Ruy Lopez (40) 
    C65 C77 C84 C62 C67
 French Defense (24) 
    C00 C13 C01 C11 C10
 French (20) 
    C00 C13 C11 C10
 Giuoco Piano (18) 
    C53 C50
 King's Gambit Accepted (13) 
    C33 C39 C37
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (49) 
    B25 B30 B21 B32 B40
 Ruy Lopez (30) 
    C61 C80 C63
 King's Gambit Accepted (28) 
    C33 C35 C39 C37
 French Defense (25) 
    C00 C13 C10 C01 C11
 Dutch Defense (21) 
    A81 A85 A84
 French (20) 
    C00 C13 C10 C11
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Bird vs Lasker, 1892 1-0
   NN vs Bird, 1888 0-1
   Bird vs NN, 1869 1-0
   Bird vs J Mason, 1876 1-0
   Bird vs Englisch, 1883 1/2-1/2
   G MacDonnell vs Bird, 1874 0-1
   Bird vs Pinkerley, 1850 1-0
   Bird vs Steinitz, 1868 1-0
   Bird vs O Gelbfuhs, 1873 1-0
   Bird vs K Pitschel, 1878 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Bird - Horwitz Match (1851)
   Bird - Steinitz Match (1866)
   Bird - Mason 1875/76 (1875)
   Lasker - Bird (1890)
   4th American Chess Congress (1876)
   Vienna (1873)
   Paris (1878)
   Nuremberg (1883)
   London (1883)
   Hamburg (1885)
   Vienna (1882)
   Manchester (1890)
   London (1899)
   6th American Chess Congress (1889)
   Hastings (1895)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Challenger Bird by Gottschalk
   Alapin - Bird - Colle // The Players by fredthebear
   BIRD On The Bird's Opening-n-The Bird-Defence by saveyougod
   BIRD On The Bird's Opening-n-The Bird-Defence by FrankTheTank
   Vienna 1873 by suenteus po 147
   Vienna 1873 by JoseTigranTalFischer
   Paris 1878 by suenteus po 147

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Henry Bird
Search Google for Henry Bird

(born Jul-14-1829, died Apr-11-1908, 78 years old) United Kingdom

[what is this?]

Henry Edward Bird was born in 1829 in Portsea, Hampshire, in England. He learned chess at age 15 by watching players at "Raymond's Coffee House."1 By 1848 he was noticed as a promising newcomer in what would later become known as "Simpson's Divan" in London.2 He was admitted to the strong London (1851) international tournament, where Bernhard Horwitz eliminated him in the first mini-match. Bird became fond of unusual experiments over the board. In several games against Ernst Falkbeer in 1853 he tried <1.f4>, with dismal results. Nonetheless, this particular experiment would eventually become famous as "Bird's Opening."

Before 1878, Bird's career as an accountant prevented him from devoting much time to chess,3 but in the fall of 1866 he distinguished himself in an informal match against Wilhelm Steinitz at the Westminister Club.4 The first to 11 wins would triumph, and despite playing the games in the evening after a full day's work, Bird proved a tough opponent. After 17 games he was called away to America by his employers, and the contest remained unfinished with Steinitz leading only by +7 -5 =5. After this match Bird was recognized as an amateur of master strength,4 and he garnered invitations to very strong international tournaments such as Vienna (1873), Paris (1878), Vienna (1882), Nuremberg (1883), London (1883), Hamburg (1885), Hastings (1895), and London (1899). Though he generally gave a decent account of himself, his results were inconsistent and he rarely found himself near the top of the table. Despite his inability to win such strong events, in any given game Bird could prove dangerous even to the world's strongest masters. At Nottingham (1886), he used his own "Bird's opening" to defeat Johannes Zukertort in a wild tactical scramble that was typical of his romantic style: Bird vs Zukertort, 1886.

He boasted wins over virtually all the best players of his era, including Steinitz, Zukertort, Horwitz, Falkbeer, Adolf Anderssen, James Mason, George Henry Mackenzie, Cecil Valentine De Vere, George Alcock MacDonnell, Joseph Henry Blackburne, Simon Winawer, Amos Burn, Isidor Gunsberg, David Janowski, and Emanuel Lasker. Bird added to his legacy with several notable publications, including "The Chess Openings, Considered Critically and Practically" (London 1877), "Chess Practice" (London 1882), "Modern Chess and Chess Masterpieces" (London 1887), and "Chess History and Reminiscences" (London 1893).


1Tim Harding, "Eminent Victorian Chess Players- Ten Biographies" (McFarland 2012), p.111

2 Ibid., p.112

3 Ibid., p.121

4 Ibid., pp.115-117

Bird occasionally played consultation chess on the teams of Bird / Zukertort, Bird / Blackburne, Bird / Dobell, Bird & H Chesire, Blackburne / Bird / MacDonnell, Bird / H W Trenchard, Bird / Winawer / Blackburne, Zukertort / Bird / Hoffer, Bird / Hewitt, Colborne / Bird, Allen & Bird, Henry Bird / Frederick Womersley & Bird / Allies.

Wikipedia article: Henry Bird (chess player)

Last updated: 2020-12-03 05:46:07

 page 1 of 23; games 1-25 of 559  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Bird vs G W Medley 1-0631849Ries' Divan TournamentB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
2. Bird vs G W Medley 0-1241849London m2C01 French, Exchange
3. Bird vs G W Medley 0-1291849LondonC00 French Defense
4. G W Medley vs Bird 1-0421849LondonA13 English
5. G W Medley vs Bird 1-0521849LondonD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Bird vs G W Medley 1-0331849LondonC00 French Defense
7. G W Medley vs Bird 1-0471849LondonD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. Bird vs G W Medley 1-0211849LondonC00 French Defense
9. G W Medley vs Bird 1-0361849Ries' Divan TournamentA85 Dutch, with c4 & Nc3
10. G W Medley vs Bird 1-0531849Ries' Divan TournamentC01 French, Exchange
11. Bird vs Pinkerley 1-0241850Odds game000 Chess variants
12. Bird vs H Buckle 1-0311850Odds gameA40 Queen's Pawn Game
13. Bird vs C F Smith  1-0301850Casual gameC38 King's Gambit Accepted
14. C F Smith vs Bird  1-0201850Casual gameC38 King's Gambit Accepted
15. Bird vs C F Smith  0-1151850Casual gameC40 King's Knight Opening
16. Bird vs C F Smith  1-0211850Casual gameC51 Evans Gambit
17. Bird vs C F Smith 1-0211850LondonC64 Ruy Lopez, Classical
18. Bird vs A Simons 1-0501850LondonC64 Ruy Lopez, Classical
19. Bird vs Szen  ½-½291851London casualC67 Ruy Lopez
20. Bird vs Baines  1-0261851Odds gameC33 King's Gambit Accepted
21. Bird vs Anderssen 1-0441851LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
22. Horwitz vs Bird 1-0551851LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
23. Bird vs Horwitz 0-1321851LondonB30 Sicilian
24. Horwitz vs Bird ½-½541851LondonA10 English
25. Bird vs Horwitz 1-0591851LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
 page 1 of 23; games 1-25 of 559  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Bird wins | Bird loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 11 OF 11 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-19-15  TheFocus: <… it is Bird we love. His victories glitter, his errors are magnificent> - H.G. Wells.
Jun-01-15  thomastonk: Bird arrived on 1880-Jul-18 in Braunschweig or Brunswick (Germany), but is was too late to participate at the master tournament. He then played a short match with Gäbler from Braunschweig, one of the prize winners in the main tournament. Bird won the first game of the match, and Gäbler the second. Then Gäbler declined to continue.

[Event "Match"]
[Site "Braunschweig"]
[Date "1880.07.19"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Gaebler"]
[Black "Bird"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C61"]
[PlyCount "81"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4. Bc4 b5 5. Nxd4 bxc4 6. Nf3 Qf6 7. Nc3 Bb7 8. Qe2 Qe6 9. Nd5 Bd6 10. Qxc4 O-O-O 11. Ng5 Qg6 12. Nxf7 Nh6 13. Nxh8 Qxg2 14. Rf1 Rxh8 15. d3 Qxh2 16. Be3 Ng4 17. Bxa7 Qh6 18. a4 Nh2 19. Be3 Qh5 20. Kd2 Kd8 21. Rh1 Nf3+ 22. Kc3 Qg6 23. Rh3 Nd4 24. Re1 c6 25. Nf4 Qe8 26. b4 Qf8 27. Rb1 g5 28. Nh5 g4 29. Rhh1 Ne2+ 30. Kd2 Qf3 31. b5 Nf4 32. Nxf4 exf4 33. Bb6+ Bc7 34. Qd4 Bxb6 35. Qxb6+ Ke7 36. bxc6 Bxc6 37. Qc5+ Kd8 38. Rb8+ Kc7 39. Qb6+ Kd6 40. Rh6+ Ke7 41. Qc5+ 1-0

Source: DSZ 1881, p 179-180.

Maybe not a very serious matter. A few days later Bird went to Hamburg and played 12 days from 10 am until 12 pm and longer (consultation games, simultaneous exhibition, series of games etc.).

Sep-07-15 riddle me this:

Q: What's another name for Mark Texiera's injury?

A: Bird's Opening.

Jan-12-16  zanzibar: I suppose Bird does bear a resemblance to this player:

Henry Thomas Buckle

Beware not to confuse the two, from Harding's site about his new Blackburne book:

<Page 111: The photograph said to be of Henry Bird turns out actually to be of Buckle. It was mis-captioned in P. W. Sergeant's book where we found the picture, and apparently several other authors have been deceived by this. We hope to have the picture replaced in any future reprint..>

Jan-26-16  quillan: I noticed a biography on Bird is announced:
Feb-04-16  zanzibar: In regards to his performance in <2nd BCA Congress - London (1886)>:

<"Mr. Bird was also in bad health during the whole of the Tournament, for his old enemy the gout had got fairly hold of him and hence his play is much below his usual standard. Seldom or never did he display his wonderful resources in difficulties and once a game went against him he seemed to collapse right off ; indeed no one seeing the games would trace any signs of Bird's play in his ordinary form. Gout, however, is a heavy handicapper, and it says no little for Bird's pluck that he continued to play on under these adverse circumstances, and not only to play but to beat Pollock and Mortimer and to draw with Mason."

- BCM v7 p355>

Jun-05-16  RookFile: A man who played Morphy, Steinitz and Lasker.
Jul-14-16  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Henry Bird.
Jul-14-16  AlicesKnight: Thanks to all posters, new and old, who have found such interesting nooks and crannies of information about Bird (and indeed others). A pleasure to browse and fill out the character behind the board.
Sep-12-16  Marcelo Bruno: For me one the most remarkable chess masters of all times. I enjoy very much his playing style: he's one of my favorites.
Oct-23-16  offramp: I would estimate his playing strength as about 1198.

However, because he is from years ago I'd also say that IF HE HAD TWO WEEKS TO CATCH UP ON THEORY he would be World Champion within a week.

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <AlicesKnight: Thanks to all posters, new and old, who have found such interesting nooks and crannies of information about Bird (and indeed others). >

It's well known that he ate like a Bird.

Oct-25-16  offramp: I found out a lot about him on the internet.

I've been surfing Bird.

Oct-26-16  offramp: I am amazed that some dweeb has written a 680p book on this 1198 Bri Schmo.

It is only 75 buckaroonies if you want a punt.

Colossal misdirected energy and effort.

Oct-26-16  posoo: UVRUMP give da book a chance u mite like it. DO NOT judge a book by its covur Ms. Dolmater taught me dat in da GARDUN OF CHILDRAN.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: 1198 - 476 = 722. That should keep <offramp> busy for the next 6 months.
Oct-26-16  posoo: WAT is a BRISCHMO?
Oct-26-16  offramp: <posoo: WAT is a BRISCHMO?>

A BRItish Schmo, a British idiot.

Oct-30-16  offramp:

"H.E. Bird, A Chess Biography with 1,198 Games. By Hans Renette."

Hans Renette would be a good name for the wife/partner of Hans Ree.

The book has 680pp. $75. It is a bad time for us in Britain to but anything in dollars or euros, as the £ has collapsed a bit. If you are in the euro-zone it might well be worth buying. 1,198 games is a lot of games.

Oct-30-16  TheFocus: <off ramp> <1,198 games is a lot of games.>

But how many are quality?

Oct-30-16  quillan: You can see a sample of the book at Amazon and Google books. Many games are thoroughly analysed.
Feb-21-17  zanzibar: Here's an interesting footnote written by Bird in his book on the <Steinitz & Lasker Match (1894)>, where he discusses what to do while waiting for the opponent to move:


Note.—The etiquette of chess requires the player to remain in the room, and in fact sitting at the play table, whilst his opponent is considering his moves. As a game at present time-limit lasts six or eight hours, patience becomes a very valuable quality if not a virtue. The long waiting is naturally more onerous to one of 60 years of age than to one of 30. We may not work, read, take a walk, or study, and looking out of a window is not good form; we find these long waits very irksome. It is absurd to say that better chess is produced by it: take the games in the Steinitz and Zukertort match, the Tarrasch and Tchigorin, and the present one or most recent between Steinitz and Lasker, test them, and we find more than an average of faults. Given a good fat blunder at chess we should at first look for it in a long time move. <Besides, if eight hours—a fair intellectual working day—is necessary for a game at chess, why not at once play these matches by correspondence, for no one cares to look long on them at present pace.><<>>


It's actually a "top"-note on p12. (em added)

The last part is rather amusing, why not play them by correspondence?!

Jul-06-17  zanzibar: Albert Roberts (kibitz #4)
Mar-12-18  zanzibar: The end is so often sad....


Mr. Van Vliet writes:—"The aged Chess master, Mr. H. E. Bird, has been ill for some time at 16, Chetwode Road. Upper Tooting, S.W.
Mr. H. A. Richardson, of the St. George's Chess Club, suggests that it would be a real kindness if some of Mr. Bird's old friends occasionally paid him a visit, just to show that he is not entirely forgotten."


Chess Amateur v2 (1908) p196

Jan-16-22  Nosnibor: Bird played many games against his friend C.F.Smith. The following game was played in 1850 but does not figure in the database. White: H.E.Bird Black: C.F.Smith (London 1850 ) Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d4 Nxd4 5.Nxd4 exd4 6.e5 Qe7 7.0-0 Nd5 8.Bc4 Nb6 9.Bb3 c5 10.Nd2 Qd8 11.Qf3 c4 12.Nxc4 Nxc4 13.Bxc4 Qe7 14.Re1 h6 15.Bf4 g5 16.Bd2 Bg7 17.Bb4 Qxb4 18.Qxf7+ Kd8 19.Qxg7 Re8 20.Qf6+ Kc7 21.Bf7 Rf8 22.a3 Qc5 23.b4 Qc6 24.Qe7 Rd8 25.b5 Qb6 26.a4 a5 27.c4 dxc3 28.Rac1 Kb8 29.Rxc3 Ka7 30.Rec1 d6 31.Rc7 Rh8 32.R1c6 Qd4 33.b6+ Kb8 34.Rxc8+ Rxc8 35.Rxc8+ Kxc8 36.Qc7++ 1-0 The Black king was hunted relentlessly.
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