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Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense (C61)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nd4

Number of games in database: 686
Years covered: 1851 to 2020
Overall record:
   White wins 48.4%
   Black wins 24.3%
   Draws 27.3%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Efim Geller  6 games
Simon Winawer  5 games
Garry Kasparov  5 games
Henry Edward Bird  24 games
Viktor Kupreichik  19 games
Jiri Jirka  19 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
S Pencil vs G Goltsoff, 1976
Kasparov vs Khalifman, 2002
Kasparov vs A Roizman, 1978
Anderssen vs M Lange, 1859
V Kahn vs Hartlaub, 1916
S Boden vs Bird, 1873
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 page 1 of 28; games 1-25 of 686  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Anderssen vs Dufresne 0-1131851BerlinC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
2. H Kennedy vs Staunton 0-1541856LondonC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
3. Owen / Barnes vs Staunton  0-1321858London m6C61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
4. Anderssen vs M Lange 0-1191859AnalysisC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
5. R Lichtenscheidt vs M Rossy  0-1551863WSB-03.Kongress prelC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
6. G Schnitzler vs C W Vitzthum von Eckstaedt  0-1441864WSB-04.KongressC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
7. De Vere vs Bird 1-0431866LondonC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
8. de Riviere vs E D'Andre ½-½601867ParisC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
9. Winawer vs De Vere 1-0211867ParisC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
10. S Boden vs Bird 0-1191873LondonC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
11. J Wisker vs Bird 1-0431873London m1C61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
12. S Boden vs Bird / Dobell 0-1201873LondonC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
13. J Wisker vs Bird 1-0271873London m4C61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
14. Gelbfuhs vs Bird 0-1651873ViennaC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
15. Anderssen vs Bird 1-0311873ViennaC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
16. Anderssen vs Blackburne 0-1311873ViennaC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
17. M Fleissig vs Blackburne 1-0331873ViennaC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
18. H Hosmer vs H Kennicott 1-02918743rd American Chess CongressC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
19. H Davidson vs J Mason  0-16118764th American Chess CongressC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
20. H Davidson vs Bird 0-12518764th American Chess CongressC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
21. J Elson vs Bird ½-½3818764th American Chess CongressC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
22. E Schallopp vs E Flechsig  1-0591877LeipzigC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
23. Winawer vs C T Goering 1-0371877LeipzigC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
24. Englisch vs C T Goering  0-1601877LeipzigC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
25. Anderssen vs W Paulsen  1-0521877LeipzigC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
 page 1 of 28; games 1-25 of 686  PGN Download
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Hey, nice gem of an opening...
Have to give this one a try next time.
Nov-10-05  AlexanderMorphy: Rule number 1: never play any opening associated with Bird...that is if you don't want to lose :)
Nov-10-05  Holden: This is a common enough opening in my experience. Any white Ruy Lopez player should be prepared for this. The most common continuation I see is 1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♘c6 3. ♗b5 ♘d4 4. ♘xd4 exd4 5. 0-0 c6. I think 5...♗c5 is stronger, but I seldom see it.
Nov-11-05  AlexanderMorphy: a rare opening among super GM's!
The main line goes something like this, but if i've made a mistake please do correct me! 1. e4, e5
2. Nf3, Nc6
3. Bb5, Nd4
4. Nxd4, exd4
5. 0-0, Bc5
6. d3. c6
7. Ba4, Ne7
8. f4, f5
9. Bb3, d5
10. exd5, Nxd5
11. Re1+, Kf8
12. Qh5, g6

i am pretty sure that this is the main line

Nov-11-05  Poisonpawns: 5...Bc5 is the only move worth playing for black in this line.White gets slight advantage but nothing more than any other ruy lines.Its just that With the majority of pawns on the Kingside black has to watch for white kingside attack,but the double pawns can be strong for black hindering whites development ala the albin.
Nov-22-05  TheGreatNN: Does anyone know the proper defense against 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.Nxd4 ? If 5. ..exd4?? then 6.Qh5 and if 5. ..Bxd4 then 6.c3 Bb6 7.d4 looks like an absolute mess to me. Is 4. ..Bc5 no good?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Swapmeet: <TheGreatNN> 5...Bxd4 6.c3 Bb6 7.d4 is not so bad for black after 7...Qf6 or even 7...Qh4.

4...Bc5 is probably black's best chance, but other playable moves with good chances for equality are 4...Qf6 and 4...Nf6.

Dec-02-05  Chess Addict: This is the opening that my dad used to kill me with.
Dec-10-05  Kriegspiel: <Poisonpawns: When white plays 4.Bc4 just play Bc5.>

That can easily lose a pawn: 5.Nxd4 exd4 6.Bxf7+ and if the king recaptures, 7.Qh5+ followed by 8.Qxc5. In any case, Black is a pawn down and has lost the right to castle.

However, if instead 5...Bxd4, White has a nice pawn center after 6.c3 Bb6 7.d4; but it's playable. Here's one continuation in a game with Jester: 7...Qe7 8.o-o d6 9.Re1 Nf6 10.Bg5 o-o 11.Qd3 at which time Jester rated Black at or near parity with White (whatever that's worth -- White may or may not have a sharper line here).


Dec-10-05  Poisonpawns: yeah i forgot ,black can play my Qh4 on 4.Bc4 to
Dec-11-05  Kriegspiel: <Poisonpawns:yeah i forgot ,black can play my Qh4 on 4.Bc4 to>

I really don't follow that. You seem to be saying that after 4.Bc4, Black can play 4...Qh4. That would get the queen captured with 5.Nxh4. The White knight is still on f3 since the bishop moved instead.


Dec-12-05  Poisonpawns: <Kriegspiel> Sorry i wasnt paying attention to the move number I was assuming we were playing the main line birds where white captures the knight.i.e 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Nxd4 exd4 5.o-o Bc5 ....Here I thought you meant 6.Bc4 where I play Qh4. On your 4.Bc4 however on 4.Bc4 Black is = after ..Nxf3 5.Qxf3 Qf6! 6.Qg3 Bc5
Dec-14-05  trumbull0042: With 4.♘xd4 Black has NO advantage.
May-13-06  jperr75108: Good for a suprise weapon.
May-14-06  Holden: Any Ruy Lopez player surprised by this defense hasn't done his homework. Here's a game with 4...Nxd4 5.0-0 c6 6.Bc4 d5 7.exd cxd 8.Bb5+, which comes up in my games as white fairly often: Kasparov vs Khalifman, 2002
Premium Chessgames Member
  WTHarvey: Here is a collection of puzzles in C61 miniatures:
Feb-19-07  southpawjinx: Here is another game I won with white. If I could have played this better please let me know!! [Event " server game"]
[Site " "]
[Date "2007.1.26"]
[Round "NA"]
[White "darthplutonius"]
[Black "Sir knighty knight"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Termination "Black king mated"]
[WhiteElo "1791"]
[BlackElo "1516"]
[Mode "ICS"]
[DateLastMove "2007.2.19"]
[Board "3320340"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Bd3 Nxf3+ 5.Qxf3 Qf6 6.Qxf6 Nxf6 7.Nc3 d6 8.Nb5 Kd7 9.Nc3 Kd8 10.Nd5 Nxd5 11.exd5 f5 12.Be2 e4 13.d4 exd3 14.Bxd3 g6 15.Bg5+ Be7 16.Bxe7+ Kxe7 17.O-O-O Kd8 18.Rhe1 c6 19.dxc6 bxc6 20.Be2 Re8 21.Rxd6+ Kc7 22.Rdd1 a5 23.a4 h5 24.Bf3 Rxe1 25.Rxe1 Bd7 26.h4 c5 27.Bxa8 f4 28.b3 Kb8 29.Be4 Be8 30.Rd1 Kc7 31.Bf3 Bf7 32.Re1 Kd8 33.Re5 c4 34.Bd5 Bxd5 35.Rxd5+ Ke7 36.Rxa5 cxb3 37.cxb3 Kd7 38.Rg5 Ke6 39.Rxg6+ Kf5 40.Rg5+ Ke4 41.a5 Kd3 42.a6 Ke2 43.a7 Kxf2 44.a8=Q Ke2 45.Qf3+ Ke1 46.Re5+ ♗lack king mated 1-0

Feb-19-07  tbentley: I recently played two games on gameknot where my opponents made the same opening blunder: ... 3...Nd4 4. Nxd4 exd4 5. O-O a6 (c6 is better) 6. Bc4 b5? 7. Bxf7+ Kxf7? (although Ke7 is not much better) 8. Qh5+ and eventually I forked the king and rook with Qd5+.
Sep-05-07  Judah: Looks like Bird is taking over the openings of the day. Does he have anything else named after him?

Henry Edward Bird liked to take the game in interesting directions from the start. Bird's Opening (1.f4) always leads to interesting games. This defense to the Ruy Lopez, well, I don't say it makes the game particularly interesting--it usually means an exchange of Knights at the very beginning of the game, but it is a way to take the opponent out of book. Bird was never much of a book player.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <Judah: Looks like Bird is taking over the openings of the day. Does he have anything else named after him?>

There's also the Bird's Attack in the Italian game, as seen here: Bird vs Mackenzie, 1882

He had a defininte style to his opening play and play in general, I'm just not sure what it is yet...

Sep-05-07  Monoceros: <Judah: Looks like Bird is taking over the openings of the day. Does he have anything else named after him?>

There's the "Bird Invitation" in the French: 1. e4 e6 2. Bb5. At least that's the term used in one of Eric Schiller's books. At any rate Henry Bird played it a few times and scored well with it.

Mar-09-08  Knight13: I personally don't like this opening. I was playing this to get away from those confusing Ruy Lopez and I lost a lot more games than I've won (the percent wins/losses statistics I have to agree). It's not good for black, in my opinion.
Aug-19-08  Judah: It has its points. It takes off that annoying long-term pressure from the a4-e8 diagonal and after the exchange of Knights, the pawn on d4 can cramp White for a while.
Aug-23-08  drukenknight: another crazy bird's defense, this is based on that gambit line I am promoting

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 Nd4
4. Nxd4 c6
5. Bxc6 dxc6
6. Nf3 Nf6
7. d3 Bg4
8. h3 Bh5
9. g4 Bg6
10. O-O h5
11. Bg5 hxg4
12. hxg4 Qd6
13. Nh4 Bh7
14. Nf5 Qe6
15. Nc3 g6
16. Ne3 O-O-O
17. Kg2 Be7
18. f3 (the losing move?) ...Nxg4
19. Nxg4 Bxg5
20. Nxe5 Bf4
21. Ng4 g5
22. Kg1 f5
23. exf5 Bxf5
24. Re1 Qd6
25. Ne4 Qd4+
26. Nef2

position after 26 Nf2 black to play and demonstrate the superiority of Birds defense-gambit:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Two critical C61 positions from John Emms 'Easy Guide to Ruy Lopez', p.13-14

Geller vs K Klaman, 1949
Position after <17. Rad1>:

click for larger view

<The pressure against Black's isolated d-pawn gives White a very pleasant game.>


Kamsky vs Ivanchuk, 1990
Position after <12.Qh5!>:

click for larger view

Black's airy King position is a cause for major concern.

The game continued ...

Position after <27.Bxf2>:

click for larger view

and White had archived a winning endgame.

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