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Bird / Dobell vs Gunsberg / Locock
Hastings (1897), Hastings ENG
Bird Opening: From Gambit. Lasker Variation (A02)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Is it just me, or is the final move the only good thing about this odd little game?

Mind you, the final position shows an amusing lack of mobility for white's pieces:

click for larger view

The white pawns seem to have been specifically arranged to deny the Nb1 and Bf1 any moves at all. And that also means that the rooks are pretty useless too.

This puzzle actually brings back semi unpleasant memories for me. I recall seeing a puzzle very much like it some years ago, but where the "queen sac/ unstoppable pawn" theme was well hidden amongst a number of other tempting tries. And I vividly remember the feeling of frustration as I first utterly failed to spot the solution and then kicked myself when I read the answer.

Today, I spotted it straight off. Okay, so it was in a much simpler setting, and the theme of the week does rather give it away. Perhaps it means that I can replace my unpleasant memory of the earlier failure with a more warm feeling of getting it right today ....

Dec-02-09  GreenFacedPatzer: Wednesday puzzle that felt like a Monday.

To me, the remarkable thing about this position is how completely white has immobilized his pieces. His king is constrained, he's managed to get two bad bishops(!) and his only active pieces are the queen and knight, not placed to deliver any crushing blow. Even his b1 knight has nowhere to go.

On the other side, black has queen + 3 active pieces controlling 75% of the board.

Regardless of which opening you're playing, you can't allow an imbalance of mobility like this to happen (not when you're on the wrong side of it). Opening this way is just begging to get crushed early, exactly as white was here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: Take a gander at Pataky - Polgar 1978 -- in a correspondence game! By the way, I think the score of this game is erroneous --- if 6. Qa4+ is played first followed by 7. Qd4 it's like a number of similar Froms, which usually end in disaster for white. But that way, there's no overlooked elementary mate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: As surprising as 4...g5 might seem to those not familiar with this variation of From's Gambit, it is actually the most popular move here according to the Opening Explorer.

The best and most frequent response to 4...g5 in Master play is 5. g3 as in White's recent win in A Muzychuk vs V Solovjova, 2009. The next most popular reply is 5. d4, which doesn't seem to give White any advantage as demonstrated by Black's win in R Djordjevic vs Ljubojevic, 1969.

Although Fritz 10 shows it as near equal, 5. c3 has not been so good in practice for White as it lost four of five games in the OE, including the correspondence win for Black in I Pataky vs Zsuzsa Polgar, 1978.

Of course 6. Nd4?? was an outright blunder, allowing the mate-in-three Black missed with 6...Qh4+! White's saving move here is 6. Qa4+ when White appears to equalize after the Fritz 10 line 6. Qa4+ Nc6 7. Nd4 Qh4+ 8. g3 Bxg3+ 9. Kd1 Bd7 10. Bg2 Nd8 11. Qc2 = (-0.20 @ 16 depth).

Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: <spatzer>
As I mentioned earlier, I don't think 6.Nd4 was played. The score simply seems to have reversed moves 6 and 7, in which case the game is like a lot of other Froms. Did you note that the Pataky-Polgar game has exactly the same Qxh2 sac as in this game?
Dec-02-09  VincentL: <ChessTTCamps><Patriot>. Yes, I was very careless.

After 11. Nxc6 white should promote immediately and accept the discovered check.

Dec-02-09  wals: [Event "Blitz:0'"]
[Site "Microsoft"]
[Date "1897.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Bird / Dobell"]
[Black "Gunsberg / Locock"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A02"]
[Annotator "Rybka 3 1-cpu (30m)"]
[PlyCount "18"]
[TimeControl "20"]

A02: ♗ird's Opening 1. f4 e5 2. fxe5 d6 3. exd6 (3. Nf3 dxe5 4. Nxe5 Bd6 ) 3... Bxd6 ♗lack has a mate threat (3... c5 4. Nf3 ) 4. Nf3 g5 (4... Nf6 5. Nc3 ) 5. c3 White has a cramped position. White's pieces can't move: c1+f1 (5. g3 g4 6. Nh4 Be7 ) 5... g4 ♗lack threatens to win material: g4xf3 6. Nd4??? instead of simply winning the game (6. Qa4+ c6 7. Qe4+ Ne7 ) 6... Nc6 ♗lack has a mate threat (6... Qh4+ 7. g3 Bxg3+ 8. hxg3 Qxg3#) 7. Qa4 Qh4+ (7... Bd7 8. Nxc6 Bxc6 9. Qxg4 Nf6 ) 8. Kd1 White loses the right to castle (8. g3 $5 Bxg3+ 9. hxg3 Qxh1 10. Nb5 ) 8... g3 ♗lack threatens to win material: g3xh2 9. b3?? releasing the pressure on the opponent (9. d3 was necessary Nge7 10. Nd2 Qxh2 11. Nxc6 Qxh1 12. Nxe7+ Kxe7 13. Qe4+ Be6 14. Qxb7 ) 9... Qxh2 doomsday (9... Qxh2 10. Nxc6 Qxh1 ) 0-1

Premium Chessgames Member
  David2009: <CHESSTTCAMPS [snip] 10.Nxc6 Qxh1 11.Ke1 Qg1! 12.Qd4 Qf2+! 13.Qxf2 gxf2+ 14.Kxf2 bxc6 leaves black a rook ahead.> After 11 ...Qg1 White saves the piece with 12 Ne5+ c6 13 Nd3. There could follow 13...Bf5 14 Qd4 Qxd4 15 cxd4 0-0-0 16 e3

click for larger view

when White has staved off immediate defeat but is R for N down without compensation.

After 10 Nxc6 best for Black, IMO, is the line proposed by <TheBish: [snip] 10. Nxc6 Qxh1 11. Ke1 Bd7 12. Qe4+ Kf8>. Now relatively best seems 13 Qd4 f6 14 Nb4 (to cover d3) when we reach the diagram in my earlier post Bird / Dobell vs Gunsberg / Locock, 1897 but with Black already with Bishop on d7, a clear improvement.

If the game score is correct, the key White blunders were on move 6 and 9. So Bird must have made one of them: this seems unlikely. So I guess that the score inadvertently transposed White's 6th and 7th moves.

If the players were playing independently, I would guess that Bird was playing the even moves and that Dobell played Bird's Opening. Gunsberg is presumably playing the odd moves (Locock did well to play 4...g5!). If so, Bird (to play move 10) should most certainly have played 10 Nxc6 hoping for Locock to reply 10 ...Bd7??. Then, as <eggman> pointed out six years ago, and <CHESSTTCAMPS, Patriot> have pointed out today, 11 Qxh2! wins. However Dobell (to play move 11) might have added to the suspense by playing 11 Qe4+.

click for larger view

Imagine Gunsberg's feelings Black in this position knowing that Bird next move will play 12 Qxh2 unless he plays 11...Be7 in which case Bird plays 12 Nxe7 Locock 12...Qxh1 (at last!) Dobell 13 Nxg8+ and the four players shake hands on a draw in this comedy of errors to save the two masters from further torture.

I haven't been able to check these lines against Crafty (to find better alternatives for Black) since Crafty on-line is not working at the time of composing this post. Not even the KQ v KR ending works at the time of posting. So I am back to hand analysis.

Dec-02-09  WhiteRook48: 9...Qxh2 is so easy
Dec-02-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: <David2009: <CHESSTTCAMPS [snip] 10.Nxc6 Qxh1 11.Ke1 Qg1! 12.Qd4 ...> After 11 ...Qg1 White saves the piece with 12 Ne5+ c6 13 Nd3. There could follow 13...Bf5 14 Qd4 Qxd4 15 cxd4 0-0-0 16 e3 ...>

You are correct - alert of you to notice. I discovered this improvement in the middle of my own annotation, so I added note B.2 at the end of my initial post. Thus the main line of B does not represent the best play for white that I found, which makes for a rather confusing presentation. In any case, I reached a position similar to what you diagrammed, except in the transposition I exchanged the B for the Nd3 and the d-pawns are tripled, which looks even uglier for white.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: Hmmm. Possibly the move order here is incorrect? Perhaps it was 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.exd6 Bxd6 5.c3 g5 6.Qa4 g4 7.Nd4 Qh4+ 8.Kd1 g3 9.b3 Qxh2, or some such thing?
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: So based on the premise that the players here were too sharp to miss or allow a mate-in-three, the conclusion of some here is the actual move order was 6. Qa4+ Nc6 7. Nd4 Qh4+! .

Maybe so, maybe not. But then I don't understand 8. Kh1? or 9. b3?? Seems to me if they can make these blunders in a fun game like this, then they could have overlooked 6...Qh4+! with the continuation recorded here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <<the conclusion of some here is the actual move order was 6. Qa4+ Nc6 7. Nd4 Qh4+!>>

Oh, yes, that makes more sense, and then if 6...Bd7 White plays 7.Qd4. Yes.

<<Then, as <eggman> pointed out six years ago ...>>

LOL. So I'm in a bit of a rut - is that what you're saying?

Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: <Eggman> I feel like I'm in a rut too, since I've made multiple posts about the idea of an incorrect move order. I also pointed out (confirming Patzer2's research) that S (or Z) Polgar got a chance in a correspondence game to make exactly the same sacrifice on h2.

9. b3? is the losing move, but its purpose is to protect the white queen so the knight can capture on c6 or go somewhere else. I think white just missed the possibility of Qxh2. However, I really can't see a From player overlooking the possiblity of 6...Qh4 check when that's the entire idea behind the From.

Dec-02-09  wals: It seems to me that, in this game played by gentlemen, White played 6.Nd4, Black horrified thought, egad, what a stupid move, when Qa4 was available,
we cant humiliate the poor devils by
going for mate, we'll cut them some slack and play 6....Nc6.
Dec-02-09  zb2cr: I saw this one before (see my comment on page 1 of the kibitzing), so I can't claim to have "gotten" it--merely remembered it.
Dec-02-09  BOSTER: This is really the puzzle!
How four pair keen eyes couldn't see the mate in two! after childish move 6...Qh4. <dz> <9...Qxh2 .This looks like it wins an exchange after 10.Rxh2 gxh2 11.Nxc6 h1=Q 12.Ke1> Not exactly. After 12...Bg3+ 13.Kd1 Qxf1+ 14.Kc2 Qf4 black have rook vs pawn.
Dec-02-09  SamAtoms1980: <Patriot: <<SamAtoms1980>: This took me a while, but 9 ... Qxh2 scores a rook by promoting back the captured queen. (If Nxc6 Bd7!)>

What happens after Qh4? Simple is better. After 9...Qxh2 10.Nxc6, just play 10...Qxh1.>

The line I had in mind was 10.Rxh2 gxh2 11.Nxc6 Bd7 12.Qh4 Bg3 13.Qh5 Bxc6! Now Black will follow up with either 14 ... Be4 and 15 ... Bg6, or 14 ... O-O-O and 15 ... Rd5 shaking off the Queen. But this is really unnecessary: after 9 ... Qxh2 10.Rxh2 gxh2 11.Nxc6 h1=Q, Black will end up ahead at least a Rook anyway (12.Ne5+ c6).

After the immediate 10.Nxc6, I was going to go right on with 10 ... Qxh1 and not mess around with 10 ... Bd7. I can answer any discovered check with 11 ... Bd7 except for Ne5+ or Nb8+ (11 ... c6).

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: An interesting improvement is 8. g3! when White gains the advantage with an exchange sacrifice.

After 8. g3! and the forced reply 8...Bxg3, White gets the upper hand following 9. hxg3 Qxh1 10. Nb5! when White will soon win the c-pawn, and with control of the center and excellent potential for an unimpeded pawn roller holds all the winning chances.

Those familiar with Black's play the Latvian gambit are probably well aquainted with this strategy, except here it's with colors reversed.

Here's a win for White played out move-by-move on infinite analysis with Fritz 10:

8. g3! Bxg3+ 9. hxg3 Qxh1 10. Nb5! Rb8 11. Nxc7+ Kf8 12. Qf4 Nge7 13. d4 Kg7 14. Qg5+ Ng6 15. Nd5 h6 16. Qf6+ Kg8 17. Nf4 Nge7 18. Be3 Qe4 19. Bd2 Qf5 (19...Qc2 20. Nd3 Qa4 21. e4 Qa5 22. Nc5 Qd8 23. Bf4 Ra8 24. Bc4 Rh7 25. e5 Nxd4 26. cxd4 Qxd4 27. Qxe7 Qxc4 28. Nc3 Qd4 29. Kf1 b6 30. N5e4 Ba6+ 31. Kg2 Qd8 32. Nf6+ Kg7 33. Qxd8 Rxd8 34. Nxh7 Kxh7 35. Rc1 Kg6 36. Kf2 Rd4 37. Be3 Rc4 38. b3+ ) 20. Qxf5 Nxf5 21. Nh5 Ra8 22. Bg2 Kf8 23. Na3 Nce7 24. e4 Ng7 25. Nf4 Ng6 26. Nxg6+ fxg6 27. Nb5 Nh5 28. Nc7 Rb8 29. c4 Nxg3 30. Bf4 Nh5 31. Be5 Rh7 32. Bd6+ Kg8 33. e5 Bf5 34. Bd5+ Kh8 35. e6 Nf6 36. Be5 Rf8 37. Rc1 h5 38. Rc3 Rg7 39. Re3 Rxc7 40. Bxc7 Nxd5 41. cxd5 h4 42. d6 g3 43. d7 g2 44. Bh2 Kg7 45. d5 h3 46. Rc3 Bxe6 47. dxe6 Rf1+ 48. Ke2 g1=Q 49. Bxg1 Rxg1 50. d8=Q h2 51. Rc7+ Kh6 52. Qh4#.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: <Boster> That move was never played. Look at the comments. 4 eyes didn't miss the mate because it was never there. Reverse moves 6&7 (like all the other From games in the opening explorer). <Patzer2> Nice job showing a rehab with an interesting attack for white. Of course this shows why b3 was so horrible. But I'm sure the original players never looked beyond 8. g3 Bxg3 "Ohmigwash I lose the exchange" and looking for something else."

I'm still amazed that no one else has commented on the identical Qxh2 sac in Pataky Polgar.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Flipping the Bird.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <beenthere240: <Boster> That move was never played. Look at the comments. 4 eyes didn't miss the mate because it was never there. Reverse moves 6&7 (like all the other From games in the opening explorer).>

It would be eight eyes, since the White players would also have had to miss the mate, but apart from that I agree. Itīs extremely improbable that Gunsberg (who almost became World Champion in 1891) and Bird (also no slouch, with many victories over the top players in the world) missed this elementary tactic - particularly given that there's a sensible alternative explanation. Note also that Bird (who knew a thing or two about Bird's Opening and the From Gambit, which he had faced many times) had previously played the correct 6.Qa4+ Nc6 7.Nd4 move order. Bird / Allies vs L Van Vliet, 1893

Aug-04-12  Shams: <It would be eight eyes, since the White players would also have had to miss the mate, but apart from that I agree.>

Are you sure that none of the players wore spectacles? We could be looking at ten or even twelve eyes.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Shams> Good point. I have not investigated the other players, but a search of Google Images surprisingly reveals Bird to be a buxom, glasses-less blond woman.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: White should've tried 10.Nxc6 Bd7 11.Qe4+ Ne7 12.Nxe7 Bxe7 13.Qd4 f6 14.Qg1

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