I have been reading a book called Bird’s Opening by Timothy Taylor, which I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I was put off by the fact that Bird’s Opening has a very dubious reputation in the chess world. But Timothy Taylor has been playing it for over 30 years and his enthusiasm is undimmed. He’s a terrific guide and he takes you on a fascinating journey through 53 vigorous games.
Taylor plays the Bird to win but you could equally well play it like I do — to lose yourself in its endless possibilties.
Playing over some of these games, I was reminded of a passage in the introduction to another book I have been reading recently, in which Simen Agdestein talks about creativity at the chess board. The book was on the Stonewall Dutch, which, if you’re in a creative frame of mind, could be seen as the Bird reversed with a missing tempo.
“It’s in general important to vary your openings; at least it is for me. You have to be inspired and some new food to chew on is always great. That keeps your creativity alive. And creativity is definitely necessary when you play the Stonewall. What’s fun about throwing out moves you know in advance? … I’ve deviated from the main lines, although I knew nothing wrong with them, just to get something new to ponder over.”
There is only one game in Timothy Taylor’s book by the great Henry Bird himself, so I decided to go off on an adventure and track down the eccentric English genius to find out more about him. He was quite hard to catch up with since, besides having passed over to the other side, he’s always had a propensity for foreign travel.
More of that next time! In the meantime, here is a position from the Stonewall Dutch (or the Bird reversed). The main line is 7. … Qe7 but that spoils the symmetry with the game up above, which is from Danielsen-Halldorsson, Reyjkjavik Open 2002.