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An Old Chess Opening Revisited

In today's age of powerful chess software programs we often find that old and fogotten chess opening ideas can be re-tooled and adjusted to serve as surprise weapons for modern tournament chess players. Chess moves from the past, dusty and discarded, are often found to contain hidden resources when examined in the light to today's chess computers. One such "lost variation" can be found in From's Gambit, a violent reply to Bird's Opening.

After the common sequence 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5, a move introduced by world chess champion Em. Lasker, there have been thousands of games played with White continuing 5.d4 and 5.g3 here. But less than 50 chess games exist featuring Henry Bird's original and tricky 5.c3!? counter to Lasker's Attack. See the next diagram:

From's Gambit Chess Opening

Bird's variation is almost never played in chess games today, no doubt because White suffered many defeats in the early days for doing so. A number of forgotten gems, however, along with a few hardy internet chess players show that White gets an dynamic and fully playable chess game using Bird's clever 5.c3!? invention. The theoretical standing of Bird's Defense is robust, supported by detailed and deep chess computer analysis presented in the Member's Area. At any rate, it does seem that White cannot be forced into an inferior position, and in fact he may choose between two complex and interesting interpretations - both of which can only be judged as unclear at present. Another way of saying that White has plenty of chances to win chess games!

The next moves are easy to understand. Black continues 5...g4 6.Qa4+ Nc6 (Most common and apparently best, but notable are 6...Bd7, 6...c6 and 6...Kf8 as discussed in the chess download game analysis.) 7.Nd4 (We also examine 7.Qe4+!?, a reasonable alternative.) 7...Qh4+, and now White stands at the crossroads. He can play Bird's original idea 8.Kd1 or the new counter-gambit 8.g3, each leading to unique and interesting positions. Below is a brief summary of each continuation.

Bird's Chess Opening with 1.f4

White can move 8.Kd1 (Played in the introductory game of Bird's Defense against Gunsberg at Hastings in 1892.) 8...g3! (Gunsberg played the best move over the board, pinning the King's Knight and threatening to capture on h2 with his Queen.) 9.h3, and we have reached a very delicate position. In the game analysis we find that 9.d3!? also makes for an interesting continuation. Black can try 9...Nf6, planning ...Ng4, and the waiting 9...Bd7 is a lively alternative - but in either case White has plenty of staying power. Back to the eighth move, White has his own gambit idea:

Lasker's Variation of From's Gambit

White can play 8.g3 (This move involves an interesting Exchange sacrifice.) 8...Bxg3+ 9.hxg3! (A novelty introduced in this game; only 9.Kd1?! had been seen previously. The next few moves are forced.) 9...Qxh1 10.Nb5 Kf8 (There is nothing better.) 11.Nxc7 Rb8 (White has a pawn for the Exchange, in addition to the Bishop pair with a more compact and centralized pawn structure - but his development lags.) 12.d4 (White may also consider 12.Qf4!?, shifting the Queen before any central pawn push - see the Member's Area free chess download. Instead 12.d3!? was played in the blitz game introducing this chess gambit, also given in the referenced chess download.) 12...Nge7 13.Bf4 Kg7 14.Nd2 is only one sample sequence in this strange chess opening.

In conclusion, Bird's Defense with 5.c3 seems quite viable, and ought to stand with 5.d4 and 5.g3 among the "respectable" answers to Lasker's Attack in the From's Gambit variation of Bird's Opening. We trust that players will use the analysis offered here to test and refine Henry Bird's radical opening idea. Be sure to log in for a free chess download with complete analysis and discussion of this interesting chess opening.

More About Bird's Opening
The move 1.f4 was championed by Henry Bird throughout his chess career, and is an excellent way to begin a chess game - especially if you want to direct the chess opening along paths of your choosing. There's no need to learn a dozen chess openings based on the King's pawn or Queen's pawn, not when Bird's Opening offers rich and varied games, suitable for winning chess. Black cannot hide or evade this complex chess opening - and now you can know the Bird better than anyone! For an exhaustive collection of chess games with Bird's Opening see The Big Bird PowerBase chess software CD - click here for more information.