H.E. Bird

A Chess Biography with 1,198 Games

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About the Book

No chess player of the 19th century had a longer, more varied career than Henry Edward Bird (1829–1908). After pursuing a civil career for years his love for chess prevailed. He belonged to the top level of British players for decades but he really shone at Simpson’s Divan. Bird’s accessibility, fierce attacking style and contempt for draws made him a people’s favorite but his proud and touchy character led him into disputes with his colleagues. A very strong and widely known player, he fell into oblivion after his death.
This comprehensive first biography of Bird provides a detailed account of his personal life and a deeply researched coverage of his feats at the chess board. Almost 1,200 games are included, hundreds of them published here for the first time. Nearly 450 games—many of them thrilling all-out fights—are presented with a mix of contemporary and modern annotations.

About the Author(s)

Historian Hans Renette is FIDE master in chess (with 2 IM norms). He lives in Bierbeek, Belgium.

Bibliographic Details

Hans Renette
Format: library binding (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 608
Bibliographic Info: 85 photos, 1,198 games, 376 diagrams, tables, appendices, notes, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7578-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2462-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments xi

Foreword by Richard Forster 1

Preface 3

Introduction 5

Chess and Life Facts 5

A Rare Bird 7

Bird’s Eye View 8

A Nimzowitsch Forerunner? 11

Bird’s Legacy 14

PART I: A Young Bird, 1829–1851

The Birds of Bridgnorth 19

Life in Bristol 19

Henry Bird and His Family 19

Moving to London 20

Searching Through Life 22

Discovering the Game 22

Clubs and Coffee Houses 22

A Trial of Strength Against Buckle 1847–1849 23

A Ghost Tournament: London 1848 25

A Tournament at the Divan: London 1849 25

Match with G.W. Medley 1849 28

Young Men Explore London 30

Offhand and Various 1848–1850 41

The Chess Masters Gather: London 1851 43

Match with Horwitz 1851 47

Offhand and Various 1851 51

PART II: The Turn of the Tide, 1852–1855

The Development of Chess 53

An Introduction to the Rise and Fall of Henry Bird 53

Good Years 54

A Touch of Australia 55

Case I. Jackson v. Drew 55

Case II. Dyer v. Dyer 56

Case III. Bird v. Drouet 57

A Tentative Conclusion 58

The Interaction between Henry Bird and His Family 58

Life in Australia 59

The Story of Henry Edward and Eliza 60

The Tragic Fate of Charles French Smith 61

Other Offhand Games 1852–1855 63

PART III: The Accountancy Years (I), 1856–1865

Becoming an Expert Accountant 1857–1866 64

Personal Changes 65

Matches with Falkbeer 1856–1857 66

Offhand Chess 1857–1858 71

Morphy’s First Visit 1858 74

B.C.A. Congress, Birmingham 1858 76

A New Club in Town 77

Handicap Tournament at Purssell’s 1859 79

Morphy’s Second Visit 1859 81

Offhand Chess 1859–1860 82

Handicap Tournament at the St. James’s Chess Club 1860 87

Years of Inactivity 1860⁠–⁠1865 88

PART IV: The Accountancy Years (II), 1866–1870

A Reunion and Some Farewells 91

The Atlantic and Great Western Railway 1865–1867 91

Leaving the Building 1867–1870 94

Getting Back into Form 1866 95

The First Challenge Cup Tournament, London 1866 96

A Game with the Champion 1866 98

A New Club and a New Champion 99

Match with Steinitz 1866 99

The Aftermath 105

Quiet Years 1866–1868 107

The Second Challenge Cup Tournament, London 1868–1869 108

A New Break 1869–1870 112

Handicap Tournament at the City of London Chess Club 1870⁠–⁠1871 113

Another Break from Chess 1870⁠–⁠1872 116

PART V: The Amateur Chess Champion, 1871–1875

Failing Accountancy 1870⁠–⁠1871 117

Loose Habits 1871–1883 118

Return to the Chess Community 119

First Match with Wisker 1873 121

Second Match with Wisker 1873 126

Repertoire Changes 132

Vienna 1873 132

About Amateurs and Professionals 142

Third and Fourth Match with Wisker 1873 142

Handicap Tournament at the City of London Chess Club 1873–1874 150

The Gossip Saga 1873–1874 151

Match with J. Lord 1874 155

Proposing New Rules of Chess 157

Handicap Tournament at the City of London Chess Club 1874–1875 158

The Oxford v. Cambridge University Matches 1873–1875 160

Chess in the City of London Chess Club 1873–1875 162

C.C.A. Congress, Glasgow 1875 166

A Major Dispute 169

The Expulsion of Steinitz 170

The Termination 171

Chess Masterpieces 172

Two Regular Opponents 1872–1875 172

PART VI: The New World, 1875–1877

Introduction 179

The New Chess Lion Arrives 179

Match with Alberoni 1875 183

The American Eagle Screams over the English Bird 186

Another Month in New York, January 1876 193

Bird’s Visit to Philadelphia 195

A Man of Letters 198

The Café International Tournament 1876 201

Further Disputes 206

Summer Chess 206

Challenging the Captain 207

The Centennial Congress 1876 208

The Clipper Free Centennial Tournament 1876 213

The Distribution of the Lieders Cup 219

The Break from Professional Chess 219

Across the Border 1877 222

Chess in New York 1877 225

PART VII: Success and Controversy, 1878–1880

Back Home 228

Return to the Divan 228

Chess Openings 231

Paris 1878 231

At the Divan 1878–1879 241

A Visit to Croydon, February 1879 245

Handicap Tournament at the City of London Chess Club 1878–1879 246

Löwenthal Tournament 1879 252

Match with Blackburne 1879 254

Offhand Chess 1879–1880 254

Another Match with Blackburne 1879–1880 257

A Visit to Horncastle 1880 259

C.C.A. Congress, Boston 1880 259

Wiesbaden 1880 261

Brunswick 1880 267

Performing in Hamburg 1880 269

A Short Stop in Amsterdam 1880 271

Gouda 1880 271

Bird’s Own Chess Pieces 274

Bird’s Farewell from Chess 274

PART VIII: Return to the Chessboard, 1881–1884

Chess in Exeter 275

Match with Maczuski 1881 276

Chess Practice 277

Vienna 1882 278

Writing a Column 288

A Loss for British Chess 288

On the Road to London 1882–1883 289

London 1883 295

A Visit to Sheffield 1883 309

Nuremberg 1883 310

Handicap Tournament at Purssell’s 1883 319

A Testimonial for Bird 322

C.C.A. Congress, Bath 1884 322

A Visit to Manchester 1884 326

Various and Offhand 1883–1884 327

Modern Chess 329

PART IX: The Heyday of the Associations, 1885–1887

A New Turn 330

Skipworth’s Anguish 331

The Formation of a National Association 331

The British Chess Hegemony 332

Meeting the Clergy in London, January 1885 333

In the Provinces, March–June 1885 334

Match with Skipworth 1885 338

B.C.A. Congress, London 1885 340

German Chess Congress, Hamburg 1885 344

C.C.A. Congress, Hereford 1885 349

In the Provinces, September–October 1885 353

Changes in London 354

Handicap Tournament at Purssell’s 1886 354

Master Tournament at the British Chess Club 1886 355

Simuls and Visits, January–April 1886 357

Controversies with Burn, Gunsberg and Steinitz 358

Match with Burn 1886 360

Match with Gunsberg 1886 366

B.C.A. Congress, London 1886 369

Match with Lee 1886 372

C.C.A. Congress, Nottingham 1886 373

Giving Exhibitions 1886–1887 376

A Quiet Season 378

C.C.A. Congress, Stamford 1887 380

Working for a Jubilee Tournament 384

In the Provinces, October 1887 384

B.C.A. Congress, London 1887 385

PART X: Settling at the Divan, 1888–1890

Touring the North, January–February 1888 389

Quarreling with Skipworth 390

Handicap Tournament at Simpson’s Divan, March–April 1888 390

Some Offhand Games, Spring 1888 393

Handicap Tournament at the British Chess Club, June–July 1888 393

B.C.A. Congress, Bradford 1888 394

The Zukertort Chess Club 399

A Few Exhibitions, October 1888–January 1889 400

Match with Blackburne 1888 401

Handicap Tournament at Simpson’s Divan, December 1888–January 1889 403

Handicap Tournament at Simpson’s Divan, January–February 1889 405

A Tour in Wales, February 1889 406

Match with Gunsberg 1889 406

American Chess Congress, New York 1889 408

Touring through the United States and Canada, May–July 1889 421

Handicap Tournament at Simpson’s Divan, September–October 1889 426

A Second Visit to Wales, October 1889 427

B.C.A. Congress, London 1889 429

Match with Gossip 1889 433

Visiting the North, December 1889–January 1890 434

Bird’s Chess Reviews 439

Match with Lasker 1890 439

Handicap Tournament at Simpson’s Divan, April–June 1890 443

Chapman in London 445

B.C.A Congress, Manchester 1890 446

To Holland 1890 453

Handicap Tournament at Simpson’s Divan, October–December 1890 454

Falling Ill 455

PART XI: The Grand Old Man, 1891–1895

Introduction 456

Chess: A Manual for Beginners 459

Simpson’s Divan Tournament, June–July 1891 459

Lasker’s Return 464

Simpson’s Divan Tournament, September–October 1891 464

Offhand Games 1891 467

Match with Loman 1892 468

B.C.A. Congress, London 1892 470

Quintangular Tournament 1892 474

Handicap Tournament at Simpson’s Divan, April–June 1892 476

Some Offhand Games, Spring 1892 480

In the Provinces, July–August 1892 481

Match with Lasker 1892 484

Belfast 1892 487

Match with Heywood 1892 492

In the Provinces, 1892–1893 495

London 1893 496

In Wales, March 1893 498

Chess History and Reminiscences 498

Match with Jasnogrodsky 1893 499

The Remainder of the Year 1893 502

Hastings Chess Festival 1894 504

A Small Tour in the Provinces, March 1894 505

Two Tournaments at the Divan 1894 506

A Book on the World Championship 508

Offhand Games 1894–1895 508

In the Provinces 1894 509

Hastings Chess Festival 1895 510

Another Trip to Hastings 512

Preparing for Hastings 513

Hastings 1895 514

Chess Novelties 523

A Tour through the South, October–November 1895 524

PART XII: The Final Years, 1896–1908

Introduction 526

Cable Match 1896 528

Hastings Chess Festival 1896 531

Simpson’s Divan Tournament 1896 531

The Divan Chess Association 534

Hastings Chess Festival 1897 534

Match with Lee 1897 535

Attempts to Enter a German Congress 537

A Few Exhibitions, 1897–1898 538

Hastings Chess Festival 1898 539

Bird Against the World 541

Among Old Folks 541

The Final Tour 542

London 1899 543

The Final Years 552

Obituaries and Memorials 553

Appendix 1: Chess Problems 557

Appendix 2: Documents about and by Bird

The New Chess Lion Arrives 559

Bird’s Farewell to Chess 560

Bird’s Visit to Albany (24–26 May 1889) 563

Buckley’s Recollections of Bird 564

Appendix 3: Tournament Record 566

Appendix 4: Match Record 568

Appendix 5: Results Against Masters 569

Bibliography

Works and Typescripts by Henry Edward Bird (Chronological) 571

Manuscripts/Typescripts 571

Reference Works 571

Tournament Books with Bird as a Participant (Chronological) 572

Biographies, Other Tournament Books and Game Collections 572

Anthologies, Chronicles, Textbooks, etc. 573

Websites 573

Non-Chess Works 573

Index of Opponents (by game number) 575

Index of Annotators (by game number) 578

Index of Named Openings (by game number) 579

Index of Openings—ECO Code (by game number) 580

General Index (to page numbers) 581

Book Reviews & Awards

Book of the Year Award—Chess Journalists of America
“a wonderful account of Bird’s 64 year chess career…fascinating journey through the chess landscape of the 19th century”—Huffington Post; “well researched…. As with all McFarland books, the quality of the publication is excellent.”—Mind’s Eye Press; “McFarland, the premier publisher on chess history, recently put out one of its best ever books dedicated to the life and games of the English master H.E. Bird. Everything one could want in a book dedicated to an important but neglected figure in chess history. H.E. Bird is an outstanding book which pays proper homage to not only Bird, but the period of English chess in which he was an active player. Highly recommended”—IM John Donaldson, (JeremySilman.com); “a truly wonderful work on the life and games from the great Henry Edward Bird!”—Chessbook Reviews; “this comprehensive first biography of Bird provides a detailed account of his personal life and a deeply researched coverage of his feats at the chess board”—New in Chess.