Henry Edward Bird was an English chess player born in Portsea in Hampshire in 1830. At the age of 21, he was invited to the first international tournament in London. He also participated in tournaments held in Vienna and New Jersey. In 1858, he lost a match to Paul Morphy, but continued to play chess for another 50 years.
In 1874, Bird invented a new chess variant. It was played on an 8x10 board and had 2 new pieces: the "guard" which was a combination of the rook and knight, and the "equerry" which was a combination of the bishop and knight. This Bird's chess inspired Capablanca to create another chess variant called Capablanca chess. This variant differed from Bird's chess only by starting position.
He was also an outstanding accountant and author. He wrote a book on chess called Chess History and Reminiscences. He also wrote a book entitled An Analysis of Railways in the United Kingdom.
Bird popularized the chess opening now referred to as Bird's Opening (1. f4). The Bird's Defense (3. ... Nd4) to the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5) is also named after him. Bird's Opening is considered sound, although it is not the best try for an opening advantage. Bird's Defense is regarded as slightly inferior although "trappy". He died in 1908.
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