"I see the Classical Dutch/Bird as ‘lurching’ openings and you do play them in this way" – GM Nigel Davies
I have started this blog to share my adventure in rediscovering the Bird/Dutch in the 21st century. My correspondence roots have made me good at documenting analysis, which I will share here.
Here are a few details on me: I became serious with chess watching the 1972 Fischer-Spassky Match. I learned my first chess theory by playing over games from older encyclopedias, mostly King’s Gambits, which started my passion for moving the f-pawn (lurching). As a beginner, I frequently played the King’s Gambit and Latvian Gambit.
My home state, New Hampshire, did not have many tournaments, a couple per year, so I took up correspondence chess in 1975, which improved my play quickly. I travelled to Massachusetts several times a year, and I managed to get the National Master title around late 1979. In early 1990’s I got the International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) International Master (IM) title. In the early 1980’s I took up the Classical Bird and Dutch as my base, and I continued to play Latvian Gambit. I have played many Latvian Gambit thematic correspondence tournaments in those years. However, my most notable win with the Latvian Gambit was beating GM Lubosh Kavalek in a simultaneous. You can see that game with a few notes and a picture here:
Theory improved over the years and Latvian Gambit became risky to play, especially in correspondence chess. The French defense became my reluctant common companion to the Bird/Dutch. I like playing the Dutch via 1 d4 e6 to avoid anti-Dutch lines, and with 2 e4 common, I was already playing the French defense. I hate the French Exchange variation, so I frequently tested other options. My most interesting deviation was playing the Balogh Counter Gambit. You can see details on that defense here:
My personal webpage has my old analysis on the Bird, Dutch, and Balogh:
I warn readers that my old analysis has not been checked with any chess engine so use with caution.
In the early 2000’s my correspondence chess results started to suffer. It was apparent some opponents were abusing with chess engines. Against the rules back then, hard to know for certain, but no doubt my results were declining. I refuse to allow an engine to play for me, so I stopped playing correspondence chess.
Understandably my frustration with chess grew, and in 2004 I had GM Nigel Davies do an assessment of my chess. The introduction sentence above was a small piece of his assessment which basically recommended I give up the Bird/Dutch and focus on playing principled chess with solid openings. I believe he gave me excellent advice, and I can recommend his service. I think my understanding of chess did improve as he predicted, but unfortunately, at the same time, I learned I had Type II diabetes. In getting my diabetes under control, lowering my sugar level, I had various energy and concentration problems in longer tournaments. I am not writing here to make excuses, it is what it is, but I have slowly backed away from tournament chess too. I have replaced that chess with online play. I love 3-minute chess, I like the action, but I quickly add I am not very good at it.
After several years of being stagnant with my recent Neo-London, Caro Kann, and Slav repertoire, I have decided to return to my beloved Bird/Dutch. I think I have gained wisdom of years, better chess insight, and should be able play the Bird/Dutch better? Maybe not?? Regardless, I am motivated to start this blog.
My next post will be on a few of my past favorite Bird Opening games. Good Chess! Keith