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Henry Bird vs David Janowski
London (1899), London ENG, rd 23, Jun-30
Scotch Game: Schmidt Variation (C45)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-21-08  Knight13: Black's center got too strong. And that knight on the rim was napping pretty much the whole game.

It's hard to notice White's blunder. I think Black won due more to positional bases; his pieces were a lot stronger, effectively placed, open f file for his rooks, firm control of the center...

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A good game through move 23, after which Bird fell apart.

Bird's handling of the opening in this Scotch Game was consistent with modern theory through move 13. The Tournament Book criticizes Bird's 11. Qf3 claiming the old move 11. Ne2 was best, but Bird's move is the best way to exploit his pin of Janowski's Knight. Not surprisingly, MCO-13 calls Bird's move best and says that the proposed 11. Ne2 "poses no problems for Black."

But Bird's 14. BxN handed Janowski the two Bishops and the initiative. In this case, the Tournament Books's criticism of Bird appears well-founded, and 14. Bf4 was surely much better for White.

Knight13 notes that Bird's Knight was out of play after 15. Na4. While that was later true in this game, it was only after Bird's strange collapse later on. At the time it was played, 15. Na4 was fine and probably best.

Having obtained the better game thanks to Bird's 14. BxN, Janowski's 15...Be7 was too slow. The idea of working up an attack on the c7-h2 diagonal was clumsy and could have led to grief. 15...Qa5 would have been much better.

The Tournament Book condemns Bird's 17. Rfe1 and suggests 17. c4, but Bird's move builds up play in the center and seems best.

Janowski continued on his misguided idea with 17...Bc7 (17...Qg5 was better) and 18...Qd6.

Janowski's 19...g6, though praised by the Tournament Book because it led to the opening of the f-file and a strong center, was a mistake (19...Rae8 was best) and allowed Bird to set up a neat Queen-fork with 20. BxB fxB 21. Qe3. After Janowski's hesitant 21...Rf6 (21...e5 immediately was best) and 22. Qxh6, Bird was up a pawn and--while perhaps not quite winning--had much the better game.

But having outplayed Janowski, Bird promtly fell apart. After Janowski played 22....e5, Bird timidly played 23. Re2 instead of the fighting 23. c4 or the wicked 23. Re4 threatening a King's side attack of his own.

Then, after Janowski's 23...Rhf8, Bird blundered with 24. Rd3? 24. Re4! still gave him good chances). Janowski immediately capitalized with the crushing 24...e4!

If the game was not over after 24...e4!, it surely appeared over after Bird's awful 25. Rxe4 (25. Rdd2 was the only chance) and 26. Re1?

At this stage, 26...Rf6! from Janowski would have closed proceedings. But Janowski, consistent with his reputation of liking won positions so much he couldn't bear to finish off a won game, blundered in turn with 26...R2f3? Now, Bird would have had life after 27. RxR.

But Bird continued his collapse with 27. Qg5? after which his position was target practice for Janowski. To be sure, Bird made matters worse with 28. Qe3? and 29. h4?, but the game was gone anyway.

Bird played like a seasoned grandmaster here through about move 23, and then played like a duffer. I am guessing that age and exhaustion must have been the reason.

What is inexcusable is the extremely poor commentary in the Tournament Book, which somehow manages to miss all the errors during the final moves and simply--and wrongly--suggests that Janowski had a won game after 19...g6 when in fact Bird had the advantage at that stage and only lost because of errors after move 22.

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