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Henry Edward Bird vs James Mason
"And this Bird You Cannot Change" (game of the day Oct-04-2006)
New York m (1876)
French Defense: Classical. Delayed Exchange Variation (C11)  ·  1-0



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Given 28 times; par: 62 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: It is said that the Brilliancy Prize given for this game was the first ever in chess history.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Instead of 52.Nc8, White can mate with 52.Rg6#.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Source: CN 1062 Edward Winter, "Chess Explorations", Cadogan 1996
Dec-08-08  eightbyeight: Hey everyone, if 30. ... Qxa5 31. Nxc6?? Qc7+ loses. The correct continuation after 30. ... Qxa5 is 31. Ng6!, winning the knight on e6.
Jan-04-09  WhiteRook48: what a Bird!
May-22-09  WhiteRook48: 50. Ng6+!
Jun-15-09  LaFreak III: like a birdgin..
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: Certainly J.Mason could have defended better, but still a wonderful game by H.E.Bird!
Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: After 50.Ng6+, the sequence would have been 50...Kg7 51.Nxe7+ Kxh6 52.Rg6 mate (not 52.Nxc8 as Andy Soltis pointed out in his Book of Lists, 1st edition, but did not comment on any moves after 50.Ng6+ in the second edition).
Feb-02-11  Whitehat1963: WOW!! What an unbelievable game! What do the Rybka 4s of the world have to say about it, I wonder.
Mar-11-12  reilouco: Mr. Mason missed the winning 29...Bxd4.

He was better than Bird the entire game even though he practically didn't play the any "best moves", only "good moves".

But at 43... Qe4+, he gave away all of his advantage and Houdini calls it a draw.

And at 44...Nh7 he lost the match.

Apr-03-12  Anderssen99: Black wins after: 35....,Nxc6. 36.Rxe8+,Qxe8. 37.Rxc6,a5!! (Overlooked by Tartakover). 38.Rc8!,Qxc8. 39.Ne7+,Kh7!! (Not: 39....,Kf7??. 40.Nxc8,a4. 41.Nd6+!,Kf6. 42.Nb5 preventing the further advance of the "a" pawn and winning easily). 40.Nxc8,a4. 41.Nb6,a3 and White cannot prevent Black from queening his pawn.
Apr-28-12  chessavatar: Impressive line, Anderssen99. The game might still go on after: 38. Ra6 a4. For example, 39. Kg3 Qb8+. 40. Kg4 and the check mate threat by the white rook keeps the black queen freedom restricted.
May-02-12  Anderssen99: Chessavatar, 39. ...,Qb8+ is not compulsory. Black has a better line: 39. ...,Kh7. 40.Ne5,Qc8. 41.Rxa4,Qxc3+. 42.Kg2,Qd2. 43.Nf3,Qf4. 44.Ra3,Qg4+. 45.Kf1,h5. 46.f6.gxf6. 47.Rd3,h4 and Black's win is a matter of time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Yes this was indeed the first game to be awarded a brilliancy prize.

It was put up and judged by the proprietor of the Café International, New York.

"This spirited offer should have a marked influence in protecting us from the wearying round of French, Sicilian and irregular openings."

The Opening was a French!

Hooper & Whyld 'The Oxford Companion to Chess."

Jun-20-18  zanzibar: <Sally> et. al. ...

But according to Chernev (in Wonders and Curiosities of Chess) states:

<The first tournament game ...>

Note that he say *tournament* game, not *match* game.

He gives this same game, but isn't this a match game (and not one of the games from the Centennial NY (1876) tournament).

(I'll have to circle back on this one... wondering about primary source refs of course)

Jun-20-18  zanzibar: Quick update - Andy Soltis, in his <Chess Lists 2e p3> provides a very helpful hint:

<It began with the first brilliancy prize. In 1876 the <New York Clipper> sponsored a relatively strong event at the Cafe International. The cafe's proprietor, M. Lieders, was an avid amateur who offered a prize of a gold cup - or a silver goblet [...]- for the most beautiful game>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Zanzibar,

I've seen it mentioned on numerous occasions that this was the first brilliancy prize. Hooper & Whyld is a good source.

It did without doubt receive a brilliancy prize and it was played in the 1876 tournament.

Tim Harding in "Eminent Victorian Chess Players" page 120 mentions it won the brilliancy prize adding a that a certain Mr Arthur Jackson wrote to the 'Field' complaining Bird accomplishments are being ignore by Steinitz, the then 'Field' columnist.

Steinitz replied that four years previously when he took over the 'Field' Bird had expressed a wish not to see his name in the 'Field'.

Steinitz added that since that request he has not mentioned Bird unless it was to show a tournament table Bird took part in when leaving his name out "....would violate the report."

Jun-21-18  zanzibar: <Sally>, yes, I absolutely agree that Hooper & Wylde is a great resource, and should be one of the "first" stops.

(Get it? "First" stops?!)

I'd like to get the refs to the Steinitz-Jackson exchange in <The Field>, it would make for interesting reading, and is a wrinkle I hadn't been aware of.

Wonder if Renette discusses this in his book?

As far as my post - part of it was to mention Chernev, another part was to get Lieder's name out there (and a nod to Soltis' work - another good 'un).

But an even more important part was to gently scold <CG> for its labeling of the game:

[Event "New York m"]
[Site "New York m"]

which definitely suggests the game was from a match.

That got me wondering, since it's possible the first brilliancy could have been awarded during a match, even if the usage of the term would be at odds with convention. But it's not the case, luckily, as it was indeed a tournament game.

And so, in the end, it's just another mislabeled individual game, floating in the great big <CG>, er, "salad" bowl.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Zanzibar,

Yes, a good addition is to actually name of the person who came up with the idea of introducing a brilliancy prize.

M. Lieders we salute you.

Jun-22-18  zanzibar: <Sally> I kinda wish <CG> would reverse its policy to allow a wiki-like creation of side-topics for tidbits like this...


Chess in New York.

The Café International, No. 699 Broadway, is fast becoming as noted a chess resort as Simpson's Divan in London. We learn from the Turf, Field and Farm that at this first class restaurant, a unique reading room, where 300 newspapers from all parts of the world, are kept on file, a chess room with twenty-eight tables and a library of 400 chess books, make <Mr. Leiders, the energetic proprietor>, deserving of the greatest success. Every distinguished chesser visiting New York is sure to visit this elegant establishment. The contest for the champion cup at the New York Chess Club is still progressing, with Mr. Limbeck leading.

<<>>> (May 1877)

Mr. Lieders is actually Mr. Siegfried Lieders, as we learn from the inimitable <batgirl> (I'm buttering her up both because she is good, and because I'm copying three of her paragraphs here):

Siegfried Lieders was only 21 when he moved from Germany to New York in 1854. In the 1860s he became the proprietor of the Café Europa, located at 12-14 Division street, NYC, which opened rooms specifically for chess and which the "Dubuque Chess Journal" noted being "at that time the principal rendezvous for the chess talent of the metropolis." In the 1870s he opened the chess-famous Café International.

He moved to Rochester, NY in 1878 where he managed the recently built Bartholomay Cottage Hotel, owned by the wealthy German brewery magnate, Henry Bartholomay, until 1886 when he moved to Detroit, managing the Hotel Benedict on the corner of Randolf and Larned streets until he leased it in 1892 and renamed it the Hotel Lieders. Lieders died on April 4, 1893.

The "Clipper" itself on Nov. 4, 1876 revealed that this tournament, called "The Clipper Free Centennial Tourney" and lasted from Sept. 20th to Oct. 18th, was won by James Mason with 16 wins, for which he received $100. Eugene Delmar, who came in second with 15 wins and one draw, earned himself $50. H.E. Bird won 15 games (and presumably lost one) and $25. At this point there were 7 nominations for the "Lieders Cup." When finally voted upon, Bird won that brilliancy prize unanimously. >

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Even better, we now have a full name.

Siegfried Lieders!

"....Every distinguished chesser."

Is that we are...chessers.

Jun-22-18  zanzibar: <<Sally> Is that we are...chessers.>

Some of us lesser, and others morer!

Oct-13-18  micahtuhy: This game is often called the First Brilliancy Prize, which I think may be a misnomer. It says in Kasparov's MGP Volume One, that as special prize was awarded to William Steinitz for Steinitz-Mongredian, a game that Anderssen called "the diamond of the Austrian Champion" and the special prize was given to Steinitz for the "the most brilliant" game of the tournament.

Perhaps, it is in 1876, that an official brilliancy prize was set up BEFORE the tournament which the players then would vote on, the first "official" brilliancy prize?

Aug-30-19  Straclonoor: <Mr. Mason missed the winning 29...Bxd4. > No. 29....Bxd4 gives only slight advantage for black.

Analysis by Stockfish 260819 64 POPCNT:

∓ (-1.37): 29...Bxd4 30.cxd4 Nxd4 31.Qf4 Rxe5 32.Kh3 Rxe1 33.Qxc7 Rxa1 34.Ne3 Ra3 35.Kg2 Rd3 36.Nf1 Rf8 37.Qxa7 Ne6 38.a6 Nf4+ 39.Kh2 Rh3+ 40.Kg1 Ra3 41.Ne3 g6 42.Qc5 Rxa6 43.Qd6 Ra7 44.Nf5 gxf5 45.Qxf4 Kh7 46.Qd6 Raf7 47.Qxc6 fxg4 48.Qxd5 Rf4 49.Qd7+ Kg6 50.Qe6+ Kg7

<39. ...,Qb8+ is not compulsory. Black has a better line: 39. ...,Kh7. 40.Ne5,Qc8. > Best chance for black was 42....Qa1!

Analysis by Stockfish 260819 64 POPCNT:

-+ (-6.30): 42...Qa1 43.Nxh6+ Kg7 44.Rd6 Re1 45.Nf5+ Kf7 46.Re3 Rg1+ 47.Kh2 Rh1+ 48.Kg3 Ne4+ 49.Rxe4 dxe4 50.Kf4 Qc1+ 51.Ne3 Rh2 52.Ne5+ Ke7 53.Rd1 Rxf2+ 54.Kxe4 Qc8 55.Rd7+ Ke6 56.Rd5 Re2 57.N5g4 Qf8 58.Re5+ Kd7 59.Rf5 Qa3 60.Rh5 Kc8 61.Rh8+ Kb7 62.Rh7+ Ka6 63.Rh5 Qb4+ 64.Kf3 Re1 65.Kf2 Rb1 66.Kf3 Rb3 67.Rf5 Qd2 68.Re5 Kb7 69.Re7+ Kc8 70.Re4 Qd5 71.Kf4 Qd6+ 72.Kf3 Kb7 73.Re5 Qb4 74.Nf6 Qd2 75.Re7+ Kb6 76.Re6+ Kb5 77.Re5+ Ka4 78.Re4+ Ka3 79.Nfg4 a5 80.Kf4 Rb4 81.Rxb4 axb4

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