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
Foreword by Richard Forster
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

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.