Bird on Bird's Opening.

Bird on Bird's Opening.


Some self indulgence today! Hopefully some of you will find it interesting.

A conversation with the wonderful Hans Renette reminded me that I had done a lot of the spade work for a Henry Bird related article. Grabbing bits together to go off on a break in the middle of nowhere

(''Phone signal? Are you kidding? You might be able to get something on top of that cliff over there, but I wouldn't bet on it mate!!") 

I grabbed a couple of books of the shelves. Well, with my normal level of organisation - NO-ONE could ever possibly work with me!! - I picked up the wrong book by him! I grabbed this one.

My copy is probably the most battered object in my library! It does, however, have an intrinsic value beyond the obvious. It was once owned by a friend of Bird's, who was a fascinating character in his own right - the rev. John De Soyres.


Yes, it's not an English site!

O.K. The games are arranged according to openings, with Bird assigning them certain characteristics in the index. ( He seems to have considered many of his own games to have been either a 'masterpiece', or of special interest!! While I have the scanner out, I will give you a glimpse into his catagorisations.

( The other Bird article that I have started on will contain something similar)

Apologies for the quality - My book is very battered and the pages are yellowed and showing their age - I have done the best my limited abilities allow.

O.K. Best get into the main body of things. The section on 'The King's Bishop's Pawn Opening'. I shall give his comments on the opening ( Bird's thoughts on the openings are always interesting - The Ruy Lopez;- ''I never play it'', for example. He also wrote a little book on the openings which I have, which is a fascinating read) and then the games he includes, with the comments from the book. ( His notes are both in the style of the time, and in the style of Bird himself. Interesting in themselves, I think.)

The next game is said to have lasted just 45 minutes!! Sadly, I have no picture of Vincent Hruby - who was the loser of one of my very favourite Blackburne games - help wanted!

There are some pictures to be found of the player of the Black pieces in the next game - I have been lazy and included the easy one to find. You can read about him in an excellent article by the wonderful Michael Negele here:-  There are some nice pictures there which I will not reproduce for copyright reasons.

A picture to link that game with the next one that Bird gives - it is one of my favourite old chess pictures, and I used it for an article about a short match between the two players - Louis Paulsen and Max Lange. I always want to go back in time and feed Paulsen up with a big plate of British fish and  chips!! ( eaten far too much of those this week!!!.)

Jahrbuch Des Westdeutschen Schachbundes. 1862.

The next game Bird gives is this one - he played a lot of games against Mason. Renette gives the total number of serious games as 54!! A crop from the picture given below - Mason, Steinitz, Paulsen and that tragic figure Johannes Minkwitz.

Next he gives two more games against Blackburne - Renette notes 50 games between the two, with a big majority in Blackburne's favour. Time in hand for a quick photo - the earliest know picture of Blackburne.

The Gastinau Garden Party, 1873. Crop.

The final comment is a bit of typical Bird commentary!! It is the only From Gambit that he gives in the book. Before I get there, I will throw in another picture - from Wiesbaden 1880 - you will have to get Renette's book to learn more - or indeed Tim Harding's excellent book on Blackburne. Anyway, the picture is relevant to the post, and it's a great picture!!

Taken in this version from,( sadly, the original is missing from the online sources I have been able to find.) with the key being;-

O.K. The header is taken from this picture from the London, 1899 tournament - I think it was taken before the last round, but I may be wrong. I have posted it before, and the same 'spot the player' game is still open!!

Bird. Scientific American Supplement. !877. Sourced by Hans Renette.

My favourite picture of Henry Bird. I hope you found something here to interest you - if not, well, I enjoyed taking a little step back in time, even if you didn't!! As I say, a bit of self indulgence.

Take care of yourselves, and each other, until next time.