Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bird's Opening

The Bird's Opening is characterized by the move 1. f4.  As White, it is employed as an innovation to the usual 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4, and 1.Nf3. These are the ones we see without fail at the tournament level. However, there are other systems lying in wait for those practitioners who will study, play, and create innovations that raise them up to a level of respectability and playability that transcends the club level. I suggest Bird's Opening (1.f4) as one of those opening systems. Sometimes reviled, often ignored, Bird's is an opening with possibility.

The final combination in the following game has a curious motif:  in order to force mate, White has to get his Queen out of the way.  So a Queen sacrifice paves the way to victory.

Munich, 1915

1. f4, e6
2. Nf3, d5
3. e3, c5
4. b3, Be7
5. Bb2, Bf6

Both players are contesting the long diagonal.

6. Ne5, Bxe5
7. fxe5! .....

This allows Black to win a Pawn by 7. ..... Qh4+, 8. g3 Qe4, 9. Rg1 d4, 10. Na3 Qxe5.  However, on further study of the position, we find that White can regain the Pawn favorably with 11. Nc4 Qf6, 12. exd4 cxd4, 13. Qg4 Nc6, 14. Bg2 e5, 15. Bxc6+ bxc6, 16. Qe2 attacking the King Pawns and threatening B x P as well.

7. ..... Ne7
8. Bd3, N8c6
9. 0-0, 0-0
10. Qh5, Ng6

Parrying the above threat.  But White still maintains a strong attacking position.

11. Rf3, Nce7
12. Nc3, a6
13. Raf1, b5
14. Nd1, Bb7
15. Nf2, c4
16. Ng4 .....

Contemplating 17. Nf6 with a strong attack at g7.

16. ..... f5
17. exf6, Nf5
18. fxg7, Nxg7

White has several winning lines now, but he would find the prettiest way.

19. Qxh7!!, Kxh7
20. Rh3+, Kg8

If 20. .....Nh5, there follows 21. Rxh5 Kg8, 22. Rh8+, Nxh8, 23. Nh6 mate.

21. Nh6+, Kh8
22. Nf7+, Kg8
23. Rh8+!, Nxh8
24. Nh6 mate

A most unusual finish.  The whole key to White's successful attack lies in his far-sighted 7. fxe5!

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