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Wilhelm Steinitz vs Henry Edward Bird
"Cuckoo Bird" (game of the day Mar-20-2014)
London m (1866), London ENG, rd 9, Sep-??
French Defense: Rubinstein Variation (C10)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 6 OF 6 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-20-14  ndg2: < <once><ndg2> I used to find that the Rubinstein French was easier (and safer) to play as black if you play 4...Nd7 before 5...Ngf6.> Certainly true. I somehow forgot theory and feared 5.Ng5 after 4...Nd7, which is of course nonsense.
Mar-20-14  Sho: Once again, correct: Racquel Welch...deer-skin bikini.
Mar-20-14  celtrusco: It was a bad day to play chess for someone, who was a very strong player. In somehow, this kind of games makes me feel a bit better in front of my mistakes. And I say me:-"I'm not the only one".
Mar-20-14  Gottschalk: Bad game. Bird blundered here!
Steinitz was a great tactician and bequeathed magnificent games. Is incedible how some people might choose this as one of his best
Jun-17-14  unrankedandmisfiled: Why does Black not simply block the White bishop check with his pawn, his own white-square bishop, or take the white-square bishop with his remaining Knight?
Aug-06-14  greed and death: <unrankedandmisfiled: Why does Black not simply block the White bishop check with his pawn, his own white-square bishop, or take the white-square bishop with his remaining Knight?> After 12... Nc6, 13. Qd8#

After 12... Bd7, 13. Bxd7+ Kxd7 14. Qxd4+ Bd6 (not Ke8? 15. Rd1 Bd6 16. Qxg7 or 14... Kc8?? 15. Qd8#) white can force a trade of bishops black has two rooks agains a rook, a queen, and a knight.

After 12... c6 (black's best move) 13. Qxd4 f6 (preventing Qd8#) 14. Bxf6 gxf6 15. Qxf6 Bb4+ 16. c3 Rf8 blacks position is still lost, although it will take longer for white to win.

Oct-23-16  KIDHarish2003: nice game
Oct-23-16  morfishine: What the flock was Bird thinking?????


Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Bird, like his avian counterpart, was just a big sack of @#$%.
Apr-16-17  morfishine: Actually, I have to back off from being so harsh about this game; there's a very real amusing quality about this game: just watching Bird lose his Queen and then fall into a hopeless position from a murderous yet simple shot

I had to chuckle


Nov-01-17  chessrookstwo: bird was greed thinking on this game.
Nov-02-17  sudoplatov: I would say that 5...Qf6 is primarily at fault. The Burn variation among others relies on ...gf6 (though the Burn variation gains a tempo here.)
Jul-20-18  romancitog: Priceless!
Aug-15-18  zanzibar: This game begins with the very first post <Sneaky> made on <CG>:

Steinitz vs Bird, 1866 (kibitz #1)

<Where exactly did Black go wrong? Clearly after 7 Bg5 all is lost.>

He noted himself that Black isn't truly losing after 7.Bg5, but he is in the hole. I suppose Black went wrong when he started played the French in an un-French fashion, i.e. 3...dxe4 switches from a "closed" French mentality to an "open" non-French game.

Of course, I'm not a French player (or am I?), so what do I know?

Well, I know that <Sneaky>'s 2001-12-23 post predates the creation of the <Webmaster> account:

User: Webmaster

who didn't even start commenting until 2002.

RIP and God bless you, <Daniel>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Zanzibar,

"Of course, I'm not a French player..."

Irrespective of what openings you play miscalculations and tactics with the same theme pop up in all openings.


click for larger view

Bird obviously missed the 10.Rh2 idea looking at only 10.Rg1 when he is still in the game after 10...Qxh3.

Regarding the 2nd blunder...Blunders always come in pairs.

Stephane Salus - Patrice Donnenfeld, France 1991.

click for larger view

White took on g2 and after Rh2 (he too clearly expected Rg1) did not wait around for the 2nd blunder to appear, he resigned.

Aug-16-18  zanzibar: Yes, <Sally> tactics definitely cut across all openings.

Maybe tonight I'll re-examine the game from an Openings Explorer perspective, it appears to be a little interesting.

FWIW- I think I agree with whoever wrote above that Bird probably deliberately committed the 2nd blunder to flame out in style.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Zanibar,

" Bird probably deliberately committed the 2nd blunder to flame out in style."

It is possible, they had a cavalier attitude back then. There again why did Bird resign before the mate.

Yes tactical motifs are not preserve of any opening.

Usually The Classical Bishop Sac examples you see in books come from the French or the Colle but this match produced an unsound CBS from the Lopez.

Bird vs Steinitz, 1866 Steinitz need not have lost this game 17...Qd3 here

click for larger view

Instead of 17...Re8 and Steinitz would have a perfect example of his later trade mark, a sac attack from the Golden Era refuted.

Steinitz won the match +7 -5 =5 and although Bird was a talented amateur player and Steinitz was not yet the polished Steinitz it does seems to have been conducted in a light hearted manner with some awful blunders and slap-dash play.

This game, Bird vs Steinitz, 1866 Here

click for larger view

Steinitz played 29...Nxc7 turning a won game into a loss

Bird vs Steinitz, 1866 see 21.Bxh6? and Steinitz missing 21...Nf3+ Bird gets mated in that game.

Bird vs Steinitz, 1866 Bird allowing 11...Qxe3+

Steinitz vs Bird, 1866 Bird won this Steinitz eventually resigning on move 62.


click for larger view

41...Qc6 and White has to give up the Queen.

Steinitz vs Bird, 1866 A 16 move loss by Bird.

Steinitz vs Bird, 1866 After losing a Bishop to a Noah's Ark type trick Bird has just played 19...Ng6xPe5

click for larger view

Did he really expect Steinitz to miss 20 a5 - which was played. Bird resigned 3 moves later.

These were from the first handful of games from this match I looked at.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Zanzibar.

Benzol seems to have all 17 games.

Game Collection: WCC Index ( Steinitz - Bird 1866 )

Aug-16-18  zanzibar: <Sally> as far as the 2nd blunder goes, who knows? It's pretty egregious, but he likely was on full-tilt after getting the queen trapped.

Let me read through the rest of your comment a bit later (it does have a lot of examples!), but for the moment a biographical note:

Renette, in his book about Bird, gives this game as having been played in October (R9 of a 17-game match won 7-5 by Steinitz, and lasting from Sept-Nov 1866). The score was published in <The Field, 1866-10-06>.

I wonder if <CG> has all the games, likely it does.

Aug-16-18  zanzibar: Sally you're either too fast or clairvoyant!

(I did a little edit to my post (which should have preceded <Sally>'s comment)!)

Aug-16-18  zanzibar: BTW- thanks for finding that <Benzol> collection <Sally>, but a couple of comments:

1) Why doesn't <Benzol>'s collection show up in the <Featured in the Following Game Collections> for me?

That's really unusual, I did look for such a collection link before making my post too - but it's missing for me. Does it show up for you?

2) <Benzol> uses a WCC tag for his collection. Is he suggesting the match was for World Championship? If so, then I'd like to see more discussion about it.

It is true that Steinitz had just collected his match against Anderssen, where can be argued to be a WCC match.

But this one? Well, Renette has this comment about the match:

<No one had the impression that Steinitz put his just-achieved status as world's strong player at risk> (Bird p100)


Aug-16-18  zanzibar: Renette says the match was supposed to be played till the first 11 wins. But in November Bird was compelled by business to leave England, and the match was never resumed (The Field 1866-11-10 and ILN 1867-01-05).


Aug-16-18  zanzibar: One final point - it was basically from the controversy about the ending of this match that the controversy between Steinitz and some of the British chess world began - at least according to Renette.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Zanzibar,

It's alright, it reads OK.

The games I looked at do give the impression that if I was told these games were played at night after Bird had a done a full day's work as an accountant and Steinitz had spent all day at Simpson's Divan playing against punters for a shilling a game then I would believe them.

Considering their pedigree some of the moves are surprising and hint that there could be a valid reason. All matches have their blunder moments but this one is something else.

Aug-16-18  zanzibar: Right, <Sally>, Renette notes that, plus the fact that <Bird> was out of practice.

You can see that <Bird> played at a higher level in years prior and after this match:

Still, as <Renette> says:

<The close outcome of the match was in fact the first truly excellent result in Bird's career and he was justly proud of it.>


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