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Henry Edward Bird
Number of games in database: 469
Years covered: 1849 to 1903
Overall record: +168 -222 =68 (44.1%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      11 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Bird's Opening (91) 
    A03 A02
 Ruy Lopez (35) 
    C65 C77 C84 C64 C67
 French Defense (22) 
    C00 C13 C11 C01 C10
 French (19) 
    C00 C13 C11 C10
 Giuoco Piano (16) 
    C53 C50
 Evans Gambit (10) 
    C51 C52
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (49) 
    B34 B21 B73 B46 B23
 Ruy Lopez (27) 
    C61 C80 C63 C77
 King's Gambit Accepted (24) 
    C35 C33 C39 C37
 French Defense (24) 
    C00 C13 C10 C01 C11
 Sicilian Dragon (20) 
    B34 B73 B72
 French (19) 
    C00 C13 C10 C11
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Bird vs Lasker, 1892 1-0
   NN vs Bird, 1850 0-1
   Bird vs NN, 1869 1-0
   Bird vs Steinitz, 1867 1-0
   Bird vs Pinkerley, 1850 1-0
   G MacDonnell vs Bird, 1874 0-1
   Bird vs Englisch, 1883 1/2-1/2
   Bird vs J Mason, 1876 1-0
   Bird vs K Pitschel, 1878 1-0
   Bird vs Gelbfuhs, 1873 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Lasker - Bird (1890)
   Philadelphia (1876)
   Paris (1878)
   Vienna (1873)
   Nuremberg (1883)
   London (1883)
   Hamburg (1885)
   Vienna (1882)
   London (1899)
   Hastings (1895)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Challenger Bird by Gottschalk
   BIRD On The Bird's Opening-n-The Bird-Defence by saveyougod
   Vienna 1873 by suenteus po 147
   Paris 1878 by suenteus po 147
   Philadelphia 1876 by suenteus po 147

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Henry Edward Bird
Search Google for Henry Edward 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 Tenchard, Bird / Winawer / Blackburne, Zukertort / Bird / Hoff, Bird / Hewitt, Colborne / Bird, Allen & Bird, Henry Bird / Frederick Womersley & Bird / Allies.

 page 1 of 19; games 1-25 of 469  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Bird vs G Medley 0-124 1849 London m2C01 French, Exchange
2. Bird vs G Medley 1-033 1849 LondonC00 French Defense
3. G Medley vs Bird 1-052 1849 LondonD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
4. G Medley vs Bird 1-053 1849 London ;HCL 34C01 French, Exchange
5. G Medley vs Bird 1-042 1849 LondonA13 English
6. Bird vs G Medley 1-063 1849 London ;HCL 34B45 Sicilian, Taimanov
7. Bird vs G Medley 1-021 1849 LondonC00 French Defense
8. Bird vs G Medley 0-129 1849 LondonC00 French Defense
9. G Medley vs Bird 1-036 1849 London ;HCL 34A85 Dutch, with c4 & Nc3
10. G Medley vs Bird 1-047 1849 LondonD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
11. Bird vs Pinkerley 1-024 1850 London000 Chess variants
12. NN vs Bird 0-115 1850 ENGC45 Scotch Game
13. Bird vs J Smith 1-021 1850 LondonC64 Ruy Lopez, Classical
14. Bird vs A Simons 1-050 1850 LondonC64 Ruy Lopez, Classical
15. Bird vs Anderssen 1-044 1851 LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
16. Horwitz vs Bird 1-036 1851 London mC39 King's Gambit Accepted
17. Horwitz vs Bird 1-055 1851 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
18. Horwitz vs Bird 1-063 1851 London mB44 Sicilian
19. Bird vs Horwitz 1-061 1851 London mC67 Ruy Lopez
20. Bird vs Horwitz 0-138 1851 London mC41 Philidor Defense
21. Horwitz vs Bird ½-½54 1851 LondonA10 English
22. Horwitz vs Bird 1-024 1851 London mC41 Philidor Defense
23. Horwitz vs Bird 0-135 1851 ENGB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
24. Bird vs Horwitz 1-029 1851 London mC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
25. Bird vs Horwitz ½-½54 1851 London mC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
 page 1 of 19; games 1-25 of 469  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Bird wins | Bird loses  

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <Karpova, thomastonk, present and future colleagues>

Here's the full monty on <Henry Bird's> birth year from <Tim Harding>.

Two pieces of primary evidence that <Henry Bird> was born in 1829:

1. <The "International Genealogical Index" records the baptism of Henry Bird, son of Henry Bird and wife Mary, as taking place at St. Thomas Portsmouth on 7 August <<<1829>>>. Dr. Mark Curthoys of the O.D.N.B. provided this information. The author found this confirmation.>

The "O.D.N.B." is the "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography."

2. <LMA: Saint Luke Old Street, register of <<<baptisms,>>> P76/LUK Item 016. This also gives his birth year as 1829>

-Tim Harding, "Eminent Victorian Chess Players- Ten Biographies" (McFarland 2012), p.364


Interestingly, it's possible that Bird himself may have forgotten his own birth year, which might account for so many sources listing 1830 as his birth year.

Harding: <The incorrect 1830 was probably what <<<Bird himself believed>>> since it appears in "Who's Who" during his lifetime (1907 and 1908 editions) and the subsequent "Who Was Who 1897-1916," on which the original D.N.B. clearly relied.>

The "D.N.B." is the "Dictionary of National Biography (original series)."

-Harding, p.108

Oct-11-13  RedShield: I was more interested in learning that Bird was late of Chetwode Road in Tooting, a street I know well. Don't think it's in blue plaque territory, but it's a possible stop on any future Chess Haunts of Ye Olde London tour that I may venture into.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: That's right; Chetwode Road is just over the road from the (now closed) Wheatsheaf. I'm going to go there next week and take one photograph.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: What's that song?

(SINGS) Red shield, blue plaque, tooting bird....

Oct-23-13  redwhitechess: found a game from a match Henry Bird vs mr. Heywood, played in Newcastle December 1892.

[White "Henry Edward Bird"]
[Black "Heywood"]
[Result "0-1"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Be7 4.d4 d6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Nbd2 O-O 7.Bb5 exd4 8.cxd4 Bg4 9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.h3 Be6 11.Qc2 Qd7 12.Nf1 d5 13.Ne5 Qe8 14.exd5 Bxd5 15. Ne3 Bd6 16.N5g4 Nh5 17.O-O Be4 18.Qd1 f5 19.Ne5 Nf4 20.f3 Bd5 21.Nxd5 Nxd5 22.Re1 Qh5 23.Qa4 Qh4 24.Bd2 c5 25.f4 Kh8 26.dxc5 Bxc5+ 27.Kh1 Nf6 28.Qc4 Bb6 29.Bb4 c5 30.Bc3 Qh5 31.Rad1 Rae8 32.Rd6 Bc7 33.Rc6 Bxe5 34.Bxe5 Qh4 35.Qc3 Rf7 36.Rxc5 Ne4 37.Rc8 Qxe1+ 38.Qxe1 Rxc8 39.g4 Rd7 40.Kg1 Rcd8 41. Qa5 Rd1+ 42.Kg2 R8d2+ 43.Kf3 Rf1+ 44.Ke3 Re1+ 45.Kf3 Rf2# 0-1

according to Otago Witness, New Zealand (!) :
<"Bird v Heywood. A match of nine games was lately played at Newcastle between Messrs Bird and Heywood. Three games were played on even terms (the result=Bird 2, Heywood 1), Bird gave his opponent pawn and move in three games (result=Bird 1, Heywood 1, drawn 1), and pawn and two moves in three games (Bird 0, Heywood 2, drawn 1). the ninth game however, was never played; for after the eight game Mr Bird remarked that Mr Heywood, after showing such accurate play as he had done in the latter stages of the contest, barring a big blunder, would win the remaining game or draw it. Consequently he preferred to resign the game and the match. The final score was therefore Heywood 4, Bird 3, drawn 2." >

game is here, Evening Express (Wales):

while the report is here, Otago Witness (NZ):

Nov-12-13  TheFocus: Bird was said to have made the move P-KR4 famous, his sovereign counsel being, "When in doubt, play your KRP two squares, sir."

I wonder if he advocated h4 as well as ...h5?

Nov-12-13  RedShield: Here's an advocate of h4, a wild-man of Hungarian chess: Gabor Kadas
Nov-15-13  thomastonk: <redwhitechess: found a game from a match Henry Bird vs mr. Heywood, played in Newcastle December 1892.> As far as I can see, your sources claim only that the match "was lately played at Newcastle".

The eight games have been played from October 3 - 15, and the ninth game was scheduled for October 17. Almost all or even all games survived in British newspapers.

Nov-17-13  HansR: Hi,

I am writing a biography on H.E. Bird. I can confirm that all his games with Heywood survived. After the eight game, with the score equal, Bird forfeited the final game in which he had to give the odds of pawn and 2 moves, with the argument that his opponent was too strong for such odds.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I went along to Chetwode Rd in Tooting and took a video. It is at It is a pretty normal-looking road; could be anywhere.
Nov-18-13  DoctorD: <TheFocus> - are you sure of that quote? I remember Larsen had a similar saying, something like, "when nothing else comes to mind, push a rook pawn." Maybe it originated with Bird?
Nov-18-13  DoctorD: <HansR> - hope you are enjoying your biographical work and I hope there will be at least a small section describing the contributions Bird made to chess problems. I have seen far too many historical works in which the subject's contributions to chess problems are given no attention, or worse, included but with no mention other than a solution (often cooked problems as well, inexcusable in the computer age!).
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Bird, still rankling over their unfinished match in 1866, challenges Steinitz to resume it twenty years later:

Dec-23-13  Nosnibor: <HansR> Bird played his first serious match against C.F.Smith in August 1850 and won by 10-3 with 1 draw.The amusing thing about this match was that Smith made a side bet of 2 to 1 that he would win every game in which he had White playing the Evans Gambit whenever the gambit was accepted ! I have maaged to locate some of these games but none are in the db.
Dec-24-13  HansR: Hi,

I guess you mean the game published on 31/8/50 by Staunton? They played a great number of games with the same opening, but none of them can be connected with this match, I believe. Hans

Dec-24-13  Nosnibor: <HansR> There was definitely a formal match in August 1850.My source is 1950 B.C.M. PAGE 289 and is stated in R.N.Coles authorative column "One Hundred Years Ago".I know that prior to 1850 Bird played many offhand games with Smith. I was researching Bid`s games back in the 1960`s.
Dec-25-13  HansR: Hi,

Thank you for the reference! I will certainly check it out. I suspect there is a lot on him in the issues of BCM since his death, but exact references are hard to find.

May-08-14  ljfyffe: Aussi, Ascher-Bird, Hicks-Bird Montreal simul 1877: Bird visite Montreal par Larry Fyffe, in Au Nom du Roi, pp.164,165. Gambit du centre;Pion dame.Apres 6e American Congress de Philadelphie en 1876.
May-08-14  ljfyffe: (Canadian Illustrated News du 2 juin, 30 juin, 1877)
May-14-14  ljfyffe: William Hicks-Bird:1d4 d5 2f4 Nf6 3e3 Bf5 4Nf3 h6 5Bd3 Bg4 60-0 e6 7c3 Bxf3 8Qxf3 c5 9Bc2 Qb6 10b3 Nbd7 11f5 e5 12dxc5 Bxc5 13b4 Bd6 14Nd2 e4 15Qe2 Qc7 16h3 Qc3 17Nb3 Be5 18Rb1 Rc8 19Nc5 Cxc5 20bxc5 Qxc5 21Ba4+ Ke7 22Rxb7+ Rc7 23Rb5 Qc4 24Ba3+ Bd6 25Bxd6+ Kxd6 26Qd1 Rhc8 27Rb3 Qxf1+ 28Qxf1 Rc1 29Rb6+ axb6 30Bd1 R8c2 31Kh2 Rd2 32Qf4+ Kc6 33Ba4+ b5 34Bb3 Rb2 35Qb8 Rbb1 36Qa8+ Kc5 37Qf8+ Kb6 38Qxf7 Rh1+ 39Kg3 Rbe1 40Kf4 Rhf1+ 41Ke5 Rxe3 42Qxg7 ...1-0.
Jun-10-14  ljfyffe: John Barry of Montreal took on Bird in 1877; Mackenzie in 1879; Zukertort in 1884 - in exhibition play.
Jun-27-14  ljfyffe: For annotation of Hicks - Bird, see Les debuts de la promotion des Echecs au Canada by Larry Fyffe, Au Nom Du Roi, p.165.
Jul-01-14  ljfyffe: <Bird's Opening Frederick Intropidi (lntrepedi?) New York vs Edward Harrison Saint John 1895 correspondence: 1f4 e6 2e4 d5 3e5 c5 4Bb5+ Bd7 5Bxd7+ Nxd7 6c4 d4 7d3 Nh6 8Qf3 Rb8 9Ne2 Be7 100-00-0 11Ng3 f5 12Qh5 Ng4 13Qh3 b6 14Ne4 Nge5 15fxe5 fxe4 16Rxf8+ Nxf8 17dxe4 Bg5 18Na3 a6 19Bxg5 Qxg5 20Nc2 Qxe5 21Qd3 Ng6 22Ne1 Rf8 23Nf3 Qf4 24Rf1Ne5 25Nxe5 Qxe5 26g3 Rxf1+ 27Kxf1 h6 28Qf3 Qf6 29Qf4 Qxf4+ 30gxf4 g5 31fxg5 hxg5 0-1.>
Jul-04-14  ljfyffe: <GrahamClayton> presents a game with Showalter, confirming Intropedi is the correct spelling.
Jul-04-14  ljfyffe: Sorry. That's INTROPIDI; he played against Showalter in a New York simul. Believe Frederick was a musician, but not positive.
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