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Henry Edward Bird
Number of games in database: 476
Years covered: 1849 to 1903
Overall record: +175 -221 =68 (45.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      12 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Bird's Opening (94) 
    A03 A02
 Ruy Lopez (34) 
    C65 C77 C84 C67 C62
 French Defense (22) 
    C00 C13 C01 C11 C10
 French (19) 
    C00 C13 C11 C10
 Giuoco Piano (16) 
    C53 C50
 Evans Gambit (10) 
    C51 C52
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (50) 
    B34 B21 B23 B73 B40
 Ruy Lopez (27) 
    C61 C80 C63
 French Defense (24) 
    C00 C13 C01 C10 C11
 King's Gambit Accepted (24) 
    C35 C33 C39 C37
 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 Pinkerley, 1850 1-0
   Bird vs Steinitz, 1867 1-0
   Bird vs J Mason, 1876 1-0
   G MacDonnell vs Bird, 1874 0-1
   Bird vs Englisch, 1883 1/2-1/2
   Bird vs K Pitschel, 1878 1-0
   Bird vs Gelbfuhs, 1873 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Lasker - Bird (1890)
   4th American Chess Congress (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
   Alapin - Bird - Colle // The Players by fredthebear
   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 W Trenchard, Bird / Winawer / Blackburne, Zukertort / Bird / Hoffer, Bird / Hewitt, Colborne / Bird, Allen & Bird, Henry Bird / Frederick Womersley & Bird / Allies.

 page 1 of 20; games 1-25 of 476  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. G W Medley vs Bird 1-042 1849 LondonA13 English
2. Bird vs G W Medley 0-129 1849 LondonC00 French Defense
3. Bird vs G W Medley 0-124 1849 London m2C01 French, Exchange
4. Bird vs G W Medley 1-021 1849 LondonC00 French Defense
5. G W Medley vs Bird 1-053 1849 London ;HCL 34C01 French, Exchange
6. G W Medley vs Bird 1-047 1849 LondonD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
7. Bird vs G W Medley 1-063 1849 London ;HCL 34B45 Sicilian, Taimanov
8. Bird vs G W Medley 1-033 1849 LondonC00 French Defense
9. G W Medley vs Bird 1-036 1849 London ;HCL 34A85 Dutch, with c4 & Nc3
10. G W Medley vs Bird 1-052 1849 LondonD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
11. NN vs Bird 0-115 1850 ENGC45 Scotch Game
12. Bird vs J Smith 1-021 1850 LondonC64 Ruy Lopez, Classical
13. Bird vs A Simons 1-050 1850 LondonC64 Ruy Lopez, Classical
14. Bird vs Pinkerley 1-024 1850 London000 Chess variants
15. Bird vs Horwitz 0-132 1851 LondonB30 Sicilian
16. Horwitz vs Bird 1-018 1851 LondonC01 French, Exchange
17. Bird vs Horwitz 1-061 1851 London mC67 Ruy Lopez
18. Horwitz vs Bird 1-063 1851 London mB44 Sicilian
19. Horwitz vs Bird 1-055 1851 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
20. Bird vs Anderssen 1-044 1851 LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
21. Horwitz vs Bird 1-036 1851 London mC39 King's Gambit Accepted
22. Bird vs Horwitz 1-029 1851 London mC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
23. Horwitz vs Bird 1-024 1851 London mC41 Philidor Defense
24. Horwitz vs Bird ½-½54 1851 LondonA10 English
25. Bird vs Horwitz 0-138 1851 London mC41 Philidor Defense
 page 1 of 20; games 1-25 of 476  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
  Phony Benoni: Bird, still rankling over their unfinished match in 1866, challenges Steinitz to resume it twenty years later:

Premium Chessgames Member
  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

Premium Chessgames Member
  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 Q×c3 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.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I regard Bird as a typical English big rubbish sack-of-poopoo sportsman. Totally prepared to take 2nd or 3rd or lower as long as a good show is put up. The apotheosis of that is the 1993 Short-Kasparov match.

Tony Miles was the only English GM with huge vouloir and pouvoir, but the 5-0 match loss to Kasparov knocked the stuffing out of him: [thinks]: "If I won through the Candidates and faced Kasparov in a 24 game match, how would I do then?"

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: "Mr H. E. Bird. the chess-player, has had narrow escape. He is an invalid confined his bed, and the upsetting of a light, which set fire to the bad, placed him in serious danger. He was saved by the promptitude of Mrs Hart land; his landlady, who was severely burnt in putting out the flames".

<Source:> "Aberdeen Journal" - Thursday 13th June 1901, p.4.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <… it is Bird we love. His victories glitter, his errors are magnificent> - H.G. Wells.
Premium Chessgames Member
  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.).

Premium Chessgames Member riddle me this:

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

A: Bird's Opening.

Premium Chessgames Member
  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:
Premium Chessgames Member
  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.
Premium Chessgames Member
  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.
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