Sunday, July 17, 2016

Ruy Lopez Bird Knight Flight

Henry Bird developed a defense to the Ruy Lopez with 3…Nd4 in the 1800s. This is the same Bird who played the opening 1.f4. At first the move 3…Nd4 looks like a waste of time. However the knight flight to d4 gains time because it attacks the bishop on b5. White should eliminate the knight on d4 immediately, since f3 is under attack. This clarifies the center after 4.Nxd4 exd4.

What is White’s strategy against the Ruy Lopez Bird Variation?
1. Castle kingside and play d3.
2. Note that the Bb5 hinders the movement of Black’s d-pawn.
3. When necessary retreat the bishop to either Ba4 or Bc4.
4. Play f4 or Qh5 early to attack the kingside.

White may get a slight middlegame edge. Black often equalizes making the line reasonably playable. Against “sashagel71” I pushed my pawn to f5 to limit Black’s light squared bishop. Black could have countered with a pawn push to d5. This would undermine my central pawns. I was fortunate to outplay my opponent and win the game. In the end I was up a rook.

Sawyer (1937) - sashagel71 (1929), Yahoo 3 4, 17.02.2001 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Nxd4 exd4 5.0-0 Qf6 [A critical variation is 5...Bc5 6.Bc4 d6 7.d3 c6 when White can choose between 8.Qh5 or 8.a4.] 6.d3 Bc5 7.f4 [7.Qh5 Bb6 8.e5+/=] 7...Ne7 [7...c6 8.Bc4+/=] 8.Nd2 0-0 9.Nf3 [9.Bc4+/=] 9...d6 [Sharper is 9...d5!= ] 10.f5 h6 11.g4 g5 [11...d5=] 12.Kg2 [Best is 12.h4!+/-] 12...Kh7 [12...d5 13.e5+/=] 13.h4 gxh4 14.Rh1 Rh8 15.Rxh4 Kg8 16.Qh1 d5 17.e5 Qg7 18.f6 Qg6 19.fxe7 Bxg4 [19...Bxe7 20.Rxh6 Rxh6 21.Qxh6 Qxh6 22.Bxh6+- leaves White up a knight.] 20.e8Q+ Rxe8 21.Bxe8 Bd7+ 22.Kf2 Bxe8 23.Qg2 [Even stronger was 23.Bxh6! Be7 24.Rg1+-] 23...Qxg2+ 24.Kxg2 h5 25.Kf2 Bd7 26.Bg5 Bg4 27.Bf6 Rh6 28.Rg1 Rg6 29.Nh2 Bf5 30.Rxg6+ [30.Rxh5!+- forces mate in two.] 30...Bxg6 31.Nf1 Kf8 32.Ng3 Ke8 33.Nxh5 Kd7 34.Nf4 Bf8 35.Nxg6 fxg6 36.Rh8 Bc5 37.Rg8 Ke6 38.Rxg6 Kf5 39.Rg7 Bb6 40.Kf3 a5 41.Rg5+ Ke6 42.Kf4 Bc5 43.Rg6 1-0

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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