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Henry Bird vs Joseph Henry Blackburne
"Bird Without a Nest" (game of the day Dec-07-2007)
2nd BCA Congress (1886), London ENG, rd 5, Jul-16
Bird Opening: From Gambit. Mestel Variation (A02)  ·  0-1



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Given 58 times; par: 29 [what's this?]

Annotations by Joseph Henry Blackburne.      [148 more games annotated by Blackburne]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-07-07  xrt999: < al wazir: <gilbertblondy, xrt999>: If white had played 2. e4, transposing into a king's gambit>

Blackburne employed psychological tactics: Blackburne knew that Bird would not likely play a move like 2.e4 in this opening, it was not stylistically within Bird's opening play. Bird played 1.f4 to play the system, not to transpose into the KG.

If you are playing someone skilled in the KG then you have a point: you dont want to play 1...e5. I personally either play 1...g6 or 1...d5 against 1.f4

Then again, I had a discussion with someone regarding the statistics of the KGA over the last 100 years a while back, overwhelmingly in favor of black; in the KGA black has a winning record and any other response by black other than 2...exd4 is winning for white.

So, that being said, either way, you either play a system against 1.f4 or transpose into the KGA, both winning records for black.

Dec-07-07  MorphysMojo: Blckburne absolutely owned Bird 25 - 7 over their playing history. Bird was known for eccentric openings that helped him beat weak British players frequently, but he got chewed up by the talented ones: 1.5 - 4.5 v. Paulson, 1 - 7 v. Zukertort, 1.5 - 8.5 v. Chigorin, 3.5 - 6.5 v Gunsberg and with an embarrassing record against both Steinitz and Lasker (as did many). To his favor Bird was 5 - 4 against Anderssen, and even in score with Janowski, but really Bird was one of the "lesser of the greats", known more for innovation and creativity than performance.
Dec-07-07  xrt999: Bird vs Blackburne, 1895

Bird, despite getting totally crushed here in 1886, tried 1.f4 and responded the same exact way to 1...e5 against Blackburne in 1895

Dec-07-07  RookFile: Players of the 19th century had an interesting stubborness with their openings: no matter how many times they got crushed with the same opening, because they believed in it, they were always coming back for more.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <twin phoenix: My goodness all these games are so pretty! this one is awesome but the two mentioned by R Taylor and Pawn to QB4 are just as incredible. Thanks for posting these games cuz i truly enjoyed seeing them all!!!>

The Lasker game is annotated in a book of his games I have - I think it is by Reinfeld.

I saw that game; and had a last round game to play v a player (he was from Germany and playing Chess on his holiday) I knew he played either the Birds or 1 e4 so I prepared the Froms but was concerned about him playing a King's Gambit as I didn't know that very well from the Black side - as it happened he played 1 e4! and I won when he went (very) wrong...and I thus won the tournament - but don't know how I would have gone if I had essayed the Froms as in a Blitz game I lost against his 1 f4! e5 2 e4..etc

But I was determined to go on the attack (it was do or die!) as I wanted to win tournament outright as I did!

I think I would always accept the King's Gambit.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <RookFile> Good point. But it doesn't mean their openings were no good - it sometimes means you need a break to work on the opening ideas.
Dec-08-07  t3hPolak: <xrt999>Bird's doesnt suck, like every opening it requires some study and usage. Besides, I personally know someone who is amazing with Birds.

So Bird used the opening and got crushed; who cares? Openings werent discovered perfect. They were flawed, refined by loss after loss, until they became a useful tool to add to the repetoire.

Dec-08-07  PinnedPiece: How would Bird play against 1.f4?

Blackburne vs Bird, 1892

Jun-10-09  Fanacas: No offence but if you take morphy tho this age he would suck in chess 2 ^^ compaered with the old master we learn form them ^^. And 1....e5 isent the best answer against 1.f4 lasker himself said it many other grandmaster said it 1....d5 is porbaly better.
Jul-01-10  YoungEd: Blackburne: Undefeated champion of the lacaonic and generally unhelpful annotations!
Jan-19-11  sfm: Cute! 4 white pieces can capture the rook, but...
Feb-03-13  Cemoblanca: ...or "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". ;)
Premium Chessgames Member
  sachistu: It's not clear this score is correct even though this is the version given by Blackburne in his book (Blackburne's Games At Chess). The Brooklyn Chess Chronicle 1886, p30 along with A.J. Gillam's book of the tournament (p38) citing coverage of the game in the Daily News, BCM, and The Field give the score as 13.Kg1 Qf6 14.Bg2 fxg 15.hxg Qf2+ 16.Kh2 Rf3 17.Qc4 Kh8.

I don't know if the Daily News or The Field published the game. However, Gillam's quotation from BCM is not quite accurate. Gillam quotes BCM as saying "the game only lasted 17 moves when Blackburne by a spledid intercepting move, 16...Rf3! brought it to a conclusion". This would support the published version in his book and the Brooklyn Chess Chronicle (as indicate above (e.g. 13.Kg1). In fact, BCM,1886,p342 does use that wording, but says "17...Rf3" (!) So perhaps Blackburne's version as given here is correct!

Regardless, White's 13th (Kg1?) or 14th (Kg1?) is a loser. 13.Ke1 is better as played in another game between the same two opponents (albeit Blackburne won that one as well).

Dec-21-14  GoldenBird: Ugh 1.f4. After 1.f4 e5 2. e4 is the only way to keep dynamic chances for white, as the position arising after 1.f4 e5 2. fxe5 d6 3. exd6 Bxd6 4. Nf3 is by no means easy to play from a practical point of view, despite white's advantage in material, black probably has even equalized after 3...Bxd6
Jan-31-16  zanzibar: Some comments on a source for this game:

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #12816)

Feb-01-16  zanzibar: I don't have this game, but it's the right year/colors:

J Mortimer vs Taubenhaus, 1886

What tournament does this belong to?

Also, this game:

Taubenhaus vs Blackburne, 1886

I have a 61-move version from

<Chess Players Chronicle 8th Sept 1886 p45 Game 1600 / Field>

Wonder what Gillam gives?

(There's a couple of other items, but I have to recheck my own work first)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <zanzibar> In your above post of Feb 01, both games are from the London July 1886 tournament.

Gillam's tournament book gives both complete games, with Mortimer as White winning against Taubenhaus in 52 moves in round 8, and Taubenhaus as White winning against Blackburne in 61 moves in round 3.

Feb-01-16  zanzibar: <Pawn and Two> thanks for the reply, and even finding it.

(I intended the previous post to go to the Bistro.)

BTW- Does Gillam give Bird's opening move as 1.f4. I have a source giving it as so.

Plus, it is Bird as White after all, one might expect him to open with his trademark move.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <zanzibar> Gillam does show that Bird opened the game with 1.f4.

This was a From's Gambit, and Gillam and Harding both show the same 17 moves for this game.

In the earlier book, "Blackburne's Chess Games", edited by P.A. Graham, only a fragment of a game was provided, moves 13-17, and the game was identified only as having been played at the Criterion in 1886.

Note Harding's explanation of the correct move order for this game, in his book, "Joseph Henry Blackburne".

Nov-25-17  Donkey255: <<SuperPatzer77>:<parmedt: Blackburne missed mate on 17. Bxg3#!!....> Blackburne actually didn't miss 17...Bxg3# because of 18. Qxg3 - You must've overlooked 18. Qxg3. If 17...Bxg3??? (blunder), then 18. Qxg3! and Black's attack is over. Blackburne's brilliant move is 17...Rf3!! Actually it is masterful interference.> So true.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jffun1958: Nice finish (#5):
18.Qxf3 gxf3 19.Rd1 fxg2 20.Nxg2 Bh3 21.Rg1 Qxg3+ 22.Kh1 Qh2#
Mar-09-18  sudoplatov: So after 1.f4 e5 is White's game in its last throes?
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <I don't know if the Daily News or The Field published the game. However, Gillam's quotation from BCM is not quite accurate. Gillam quotes BCM as saying "the game only lasted 17 moves when Blackburne by a spledid intercepting move, 16...Rf3! brought it to a conclusion". This would support the published version in his book and the Brooklyn Chess Chronicle (as indicate above (e.g. 13.Kg1). In fact, BCM,1886,p342 does use that wording, but says "17...Rf3" (!) So perhaps Blackburne's version as given here is correct!>

Why would Gillam have to quote the <BCM> as he does, if either the <Daily News> or <Field> had the score? As it happens, the <Daily News> report of July 17th sheds no light on the issue at hand, so why Gillam cites it is a mystery.

But I did find this, from the <Western Daily Press> of July 17th 1886, p.3, which supports the Blackburne version:

<The contest between Bird and Blackburne was soon over, on the seventeenth move, having lasted only three-quarters of an hour. The latter played From's Gambit in reply to Bird's own opening, 1.P to KB4, and on the tenth move the first player, overlooking the threatened combination, neglected to make a precautionary move, thereby affording Blackburne an opportunity for one of those briiliant coups which have made his name famous throughout the whole chess world; on the seventeenth move he played a Rook to a square, standing upon which it was en prise to the adversary’s Queen, Bishop, Knight, or Pawn — if it was not captured by one or other of these pieces, mate immediately ensued; if was captured, the Queen was lost, and again mate could be postponed for but a few moves longer. Of course Bird resigned.>

The only remaining question would seem to be - where did the <Brooklyn Chess Chronicle> get its score from?

Sep-14-19  Chesgambit: blackburne sacrfices
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The <Field> of July 17th 1886, p.102, has: <In yesterday's seance Bird lost his game in seventeen moves. He drifted into a dangerous variation of the From's Gambit, playing the King to Kt sq, instead of K sq, allowing Blackburne to finish brilliantly.>

It's still unclear why Gillam (and, by extension, Harding) think that <13.Kg1 Qf6 14.Bg2 fxg 15.hxg Qf2+ 16.Kh2 Rf3 17.Qc4+ Kh8> is the likelier finish.

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