Bird lives!

Ah, not Charlie "(Yard)Bird" Parker, whose untimely departure in 1955 prompted jazz fans to write this graffito all over New York, but Henry Bird, who left us two sprightly variations: the Bird Defence to the Ruy Lopez, and his very own opening, 1.f2-f4.  2008 is the 150th year since Bird died, and at this year's Paignton Chess Congress, there was a special prize for the best game played with his opening.  This resulted in a bigger crop of Birds than usual, as you might expect, and the prize winner was the following game (courtesy of Bill Frost at

Openings Workshop 2008

Interesting... much more general questions than previous years. There may be a theme of these questions, about the tension between seeking opportunity and accepting risk. So here goes...

How should you play against 1...Nf6 when you want a Stonewall Attack?

The Stonewall Attack is 1.d4 d5 with 2.e3/3.Bd3/4.f4, intending to clamp down on the centre then attack on the King's-side with moves like Nf3/O-O/Ne5/Qf3/Qh5/Bxh7+...

Learning Opening Lines

Lots of things to say about this...  Here's half-a-dozen or so little nuggets to ponder, and a bit more practical advice.

"Of my fifty-seven years I have applied at least thirty to forgetting most of what I have learned or read.  Since then, I have acquired a certain ease and cheer which I should never again like to be without.  (...)  I have stored little in my memory, but I can apply that little, and it is of use in many and varied emergencies.  I keep it in order, but resist every attempt to

Openings for Correspondence Chess

James Drake, an occasional correspondent and freelance websoot prifreader, writes:
"I note your recommendation to play open openings when starting out to get more experience with tactics. I wonder if this applies to correspondence games. I've been playing them over the Internet the last few years and am at the stage where I get creamed by opponents who know long lines of the Sicilian or Ruy Lopez. Given that I've been somewhat influence by Purdy's recommended openings in Action Chess

Opening Books to help a solid Black player

Pete Henderson writes:
" My question to you is this; I have pretty much settled on the Colle system for my opening but cannot find a defense that I like playing. I am not trying to be a Grand Master or anything I just want to be a good solid player. I've been thinking about the Tarrasch and the Modern. The Modern from what I've read can be used for just about any White opening which I guess is what I would prefer (I'm not sure that is aggressive enough for me). The Tarrasch is just an answer to Queen Pawn openings; then I would have to learn a defense for

Playing 1.d4 for juniors

This could be a short handout, of just one word: "Don't!" But you know I won't stop at one word when a couple of thousand will probably do.

Part I - for starters

Most people suggest that beginning chessplayers should play 1.e2-e4 and aim for a open, attacking style of game.

Some players may like to try 1.d2-d4. I wrote this piece after I watched 3 out of 4 boards at a match open with 1. d2-d4, and in my opinion, played it poorly.

Why might you want to play 1.d2-d4?

Playing White against odd Black defences after 1.e4 (2)

A4. Piece attacks vs. Pirc/Modern 1. e4 ...d6/...g6: 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Be3

The trouble with the Pirc is that Black will just lurk behind his pawns, and your pieces won't find much to attack. I play the Pirc/Modern as Black, and am always more impressed by systems which threaten to open lines with pawn breaks than any of the piece play lines. But that's not to say they aren't all dangerous; the player with a plan will always beat the player without one.


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