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The Bird Has Flown: (10.03.2018.) 976

After Jack Rudd’s apparently easy progress through the recent E. Devon Congress, it was found that not all games were quite that straightforward. This one from Round 1, for example, could have been an upset.

Notes by Hampton and Tim Paulden

White: Paul Hampton (175). Black: J. Rudd (225)

Bird’s Opening [A03]

1.f4 Much favoured by Henry Edward Bird (1830-1908) who, after a lengthy absence from the game, found “it led to highly interesting games out of the usual groove and I became partial to it.” Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.d3 d5 4.e3 Bg7 5.Be2 0–0 6.0–0 c5 7.Qe1 Nc6 8.c3 d4 9.cxd4 cxd4 10.e4 Black has planned to exploit the weak d3 pawn, but now White has a solid centre on which to base a kingside attack, which will be all out for mate, giving little regard for any queenside activity. 10…b6 11.Na3 a5 12.Bd2 Ba6 13.Rc1 Rc8 14.Nc4 Nd7 Black brings more pieces to pressurise the d3 pawn, but the knight on f6 is a key defensive piece so h7 is now White’s target. 15.Qh4 Nc5 16.f5 Nb4 17.Bh6 f6 Black is finally forced to weaken his position to counter the threat of Ng5. 18.Nce5! Turning the game in White’s favour. 18…Nbxd3 If 18…fxe5 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Rxc5 bxc5 21.Ng5 and Black has to give up his queen to avoid mate e.g. 21…gxf5 19.fxg6 hxg6 20.Nxg6 Nxc1 21.Bxa6 Nxa6 22.Nfe5? White missed the subtlety of Black’s knight check putting his king in the corner. Also, post-congress analysis has uncovered the continuation… 22.Bxg7! Kxg7 23.Qg4! From this point on, all lines are winning for White, and although with best play Black can avoid any forced mates, White will hoover up material.  Ne2+ 24.Kh1 Kh7 25.Nfh4 d3 26.Nf5 Rc7 27.Nf4 threatening mate on g7. 27…Ng3+ 28.hxg3 e5 29.Qh5+ Kg8 30.Nh6+ Kg7 31.Ne6+ forking K, Q & 2 rooks. 31…Kh8 32.Nf7+ double check. 32…Kg8 33.Qg6 mate But it’s a highly complex position and difficult to see every possibility in the heat of battle. 22…Ne2+ 23.Kh1 fxe5 24.Nxf8 Qxf8 25.Rxf8+ Rxf8 Now the importance of the N-check is clear: if Black did not threaten mate then White could exchange bishops and fork K & N. But the chance of an upset has gone, as the lone queen is not enough to combat a rook & 2 knights. 26.g4 Bxh6 27.Qxh6 Rf6 28.Qg5+ Kf7 29.Qxe5 Nc5 30.Qh5+ Kg7 31.Qg5+ Kf8 32.e5 Ne4 33.Qh4 Rf1+ 34.Kg2 Rf2+ 35.Kh1 Nf4 36.Qh8+ Kf7 37.Kg1 Rg2+ 38.Kf1 Nd2+ 39.Ke1 Nf3+ 40.Kf1 Nxh2+ 41.Ke1 Nxg4 42.Qh7+ Ke6 43.Qg8+ Kxe5 44.Qg5+ Ke4 45.Qxe7+ Kf3 46.Qb7+ Kg3 47.b4 Nd3+ 0–1

Last week’s position by Sam Loyd was taken from the collection entitled Roi acculé aux angles (Paris – 1905), White could play 1.Qa8! and if the Black queen moves there will be mate on a8 or if Black’s pawn moves 2.Rh6 mate. Here is another from that book, composed by Lilian Baird (1881 – 1977), the young daughter of Edith (née Winter-Wood), the queen of the problem world. Lilian was indeed a prodigy, with compositions published at the age of 8 but didn’t keep it up to the extent her mother did.

A prodigy's problem: White to move & mate in 2

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