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 ChessDevon:

[Event "Rowena Bruce Challengers"]
[Site "Paignton"]
[Date "2008.09.01"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Jamieson, I."]
[Black "Footner, A."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A03"]
[PlyCount "85"]
[EventDate "2008.??.??"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "7"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]
[SourceDate "2004.04.10"]

1. f4 d5 2. b3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. e3 Nbd7 5. Bb2 e6 6. Be2 c6 7. O-O Qb6 8. Nc3
Bd6 9. Na4 Qc7 10. c4 dxc4 11. bxc4 O-O 12. Qc2 Qa5 13. Bc3 Qh5 14. Rab1 Rab8
15. Bxf6 Nxf6 16. c5 Be7 17. Rb3 Nd7 18. d4 g5 19. h3 Bxf3 20. Bxf3 Qh4 21. f5
e5 22. Rd1 Bf6 23. Rb4 exd4 24. exd4 Rfe8 25. Qf2 Qf4 26. Qd2 Qg3 27. Nc3 Bd8
28. Ne4 Rxe4 29. Bxe4 Bc7 30. Rb3 Qh2+ 31. Kf2 Bf4 32. Qc2 Nf6 33. d5 Re8 34.
Rd4 cxd5 35. Bxd5 h5 36. Qc4 Nxd5 37. Qxd5 h4 38. Re4 Bg3+ 39. Kf3 Be5 40. Rg4
Bf4 41. f6 Kf8 42. Rxg5 Bc1 43. Rg4 1-0

[Event "Vienna 1st"]
[Site "Vienna"]
[Date "1882.06.10"]
[Round "25"]
[White "Bird, Henry Edward"]
[Black "Blackburne, Joseph Henry"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A03"]
[PlyCount "45"]
[EventDate "1882.05.10"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2001.11.25"]

1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 Bf5 4. b3 e6 5. Bb2 Be7 6. Nc3 O-O 7. Bd3 Ne4 8. Bxe4
dxe4 9. Ne5 Nd7 10. Ng4 Bg6 11. Nf2 f5 12. Qe2 Bf6 13. O-O-O e5 14. g4 exf4 15.
gxf5 Bxf5 16. exf4 Re8 17. Rhg1 Nf8 18. Ng4 Kh8 19. Nxf6 gxf6 20. Nd5 Re6 21.
Ne3 Ng6 22. Nxf5 Nxf4 23. Qe3 {
Christiaan Bijl: Das II. Internationale Schachmeisterturnier Wien 1882, p. 301}
1-0

[Event "Amsterdam"]
[Site "Amsterdam"]
[Date "1889.08.26"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Lasker, Emanuel"]
[Black "Bauer, Johann Hermann"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A03"]
[Annotator "Kasparov"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "1889.08.??"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1999.07.01"]

{This game contains one of the beautiful combinations of the young Lasker
which created a blueprint for future similar double bishop sacrifices that
destroyed the lives of dozens of his opponents' kings. Diese Partie beinhaltet
eine der schoensten Kombinationen des jungen Lasker, die spaeteren
Laeuferpaaropfern als Vorbild  diente und zahlreiche gegnerische Koenige das
Leben kostete.} 1. f4 d5 2. e3 Nf6 3. b3 e6 4. Bb2 Be7 5. Bd3 b6 6. Nf3 Bb7 7.
Nc3 Nbd7 8. O-O O-O 9. Ne2 c5 10. Ng3 Qc7 11. Ne5 Nxe5 12. Bxe5 Qc6 13. Qe2
13... a6 {# After very passive Black play in the opening White's army is ready
for action, and Lasker begins the final storm Nach sehr passivem schwarzen
Spiel in der Eroeffnung stehen die weissen Figuren zum Angriff bereit. Lasker
beginnt nun die entscheidende Attacke.} 14. Nh5 Nxh5 (14... d4 15. Bxf6 Bxf6
16. Qg4 Kh8 (16... e5 17. Be4 $1) 17. Rf3 Rg8 18. Bxh7 $1) 15. Bxh7+ $1 (15.
Qxh5 15... f5 {achieves nothing. fuehrt zu nichts.}) 15... Kxh7 16. Qxh5+ Kg8
17. Bxg7 $3 {Today Lasker might have tried to copyright this idea. Heutzutage
wuerde Lasker vielleicht versuchen, diese Idee urheberrechtlich fuer sich in
Anspruch zu nehmen.} 17... Kxg7 18. Qg4+ Kh7 19. Rf3 e5 20. Rh3+ Qh6 21. Rxh6+
21... Kxh6 {
Black has narrowly escaped mate, but Schwarz ist knapp dem Matt entronnen, aber
} 22. Qd7 $1 {wins a piece and the game. gewinnt eine Figur und die Partie.}
22... Bf6 23. Qxb7 Kg7 24. Rf1 Rab8 25. Qd7 Rfd8 26. Qg4+ Kf8 27. fxe5 Bg7 28.
e6 Rb7 29. Qg6 f6 30. Rxf6+ Bxf6 31. Qxf6+ Ke8 32. Qh8+ Ke7 33. Qg7+ Kxe6 34.
Qxb7 Rd6 35. Qxa6 d4 36. exd4 cxd4 37. h4 d3 38. Qxd3 1-0

[Event "Amsterdam"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1964.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Larsen"]
[Black "Spassky B V"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A03"]
[PlyCount "119"]
[EventDate "1964.??.??"]

1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 g6 4. b4 Bg7 5. Bb2 O-O 6. Be2 Bg4 7. O-O c6 8. a4
Nbd7 9. Na3 Bxf3 10. Bxf3 Re8 11. d4 Ne4 12. Bxe4 dxe4 13. Nc4 Nb6 14. Na5 Nd5
15. Qe1 Qd7 16. c4 Nf6 17. b5 Qc7 18. Rb1 Ng4 19. bxc6 b6 20. Qe2 f5 21. Nb3
Qxc6 22. d5 Qxa4 23. Bxg7 Kxg7 24. Nd4 Rec8 25. h3 Nf6 26. Rfc1 Qd7 27. g4 Kf7
28. g5 Ne8 29. Qa2 Nd6 30. h4 Qe8 31. Ne6 Qh8 32. h5 h6 33. Rb2 gxh5 34. Rh2
hxg5 35. Nxg5+ Ke8 36. c5 Rxc5 37. Rxc5 bxc5 38. Qa4+ Kf8 39. Rg2 Re8 40. Qd7
Qh6 41. Qxa7 Qh8 42. Qd7 Qh6 43. Ne6+ Kf7 44. Ng5+ Kf8 45. Kh2 h4 46. Ne6+ Kf7
47. Ng5+ Kf8 48. Kh3 c4 49. Ne6+ Kf7 50. Ng5+ Kf8 51. Rg1 c3 52. Qe6 Qxe6 53.
dxe6 Kg7 54. Nxe4+ Kh6 55. Nxc3 Ne4 56. Nxe4 fxe4 57. Kxh4 Ra8 58. f5 Ra2 59.
Rg8 Rf2 60. Rf8 1-0

[Event "8, BCF-ch Nottingham"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1946.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Wood BH"]
[Black "Parr F"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A03"]
[PlyCount "103"]
[EventDate "1946.??.??"]

1. f4 d5 2. b3 Nf6 3. Bb2 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. e3 c5 6. Bb5+ Bd7 7. Bxd7+ Nbxd7 8.
O-O O-O 9. d3 Qc7 10. Qe2 Nh5 11. Bxg7 Kxg7 12. Nbd2 f5 13. Ng5 Qb6 14. g4 h6
15. gxh5 hxg5 16. fxg5 gxh5 17. Qxh5 Rh8 18. Qf3 e6 19. Qg3 Rh5 20. Nf3 Rah8
21. h4 Re8 22. Ne1 Kg6 23. Ng2 Kg7 24. Nf4 Rhh8 25. h5 Ne5 26. Rae1 Qd8 27. Qh4
Kg8 28. h6 Kh7 29. g6+ Nxg6 30. Qxd8 Rxd8 31. Nxe6 Rd7 32. Rxf5 Rg8 33. Kf2 b6
34. Ng5+ Kh8 35. Rh1 Ne7 36. Nf7+ Kh7 37. Rf3 Ng6 38. Ng5+ Kh8 39. Rf7 Ne5 40.
Rxd7 Nxd7 41. Rg1 Rf8+ 42. Kg3 Ne5 43. Rg2 Rf6 44. Rf2 Rxf2 45. Kxf2 Ng4+ 46.
Kf3 Nxh6 47. Kf4 Kg7 48. Ne6+ Kf6 49. Nc7 d4 50. exd4 Nf5 51. dxc5 bxc5 52. Ke4
1-0

[Event "Paignton Premier"]
[Site "Paignton"]
[Date "1990.??.??"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Parr, F."]
[Black "Lamb, M."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A03"]
[PlyCount "53"]
[EventDate "1990.??.??"]

1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 c5 3. e3 Nf6 4. Be2 g6 5. d3 Bg7 6. O-O Nc6 7. Qe1 O-O 8. Kh1
Re8 9. d4 b6 10. c3 Ne4 11. Nbd2 f5 12. Qh4 e6 13. Qh3 Bd7 14. g3 a6 15. Qg2 b5
16. Nxe4 dxe4 17. Nd2 Qe7 18. Nb3 cxd4 19. exd4 h6 20. Be3 g5 21. a4 bxa4 22.
Nc5 Bf6 23. Nxa4 Reb8 24. Ra2 Qd8 25. Nc5 a5 26. Bc4 Qe8 27. fxg5 1-0

[Event "BCF-ch"]
[Site "Portsmouth"]
[Date "1976.08.11"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Rumens, David E"]
[Black "Bennett, George H"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A02"]
[WhiteElo "2300"]
[BlackElo "2350"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "1976.08.09"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1998.11.10"]

1. f4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c5 3. e3 Nc6 4. Be2 g6 5. O-O Bg7 6. d3 O-O 7. Qe1 b6 8. Qh4
Bb7 9. e4 d5 10. e5 Ne8 11. Nbd2 Nc7 12. f5 gxf5 13. Ng5 h6 14. Ndf3 e6 15. Qg3
hxg5 16. Bxg5 Qb8 17. h4 Ne8 18. Bf4 Nd4 19. Kf2 Nxe2 20. Kxe2 d4 21. h5 Bxf3+
22. gxf3 Kh7 23. Rh1 Bh6 24. Bxh6 Rg8 25. Bg5 f6 26. f4 fxg5 27. fxg5 Qc7 28.
g6+ Kh8 29. Qf4 Qg7 30. Rag1 Rc8 31. h6 Qe7 32. g7+ Kh7 33. Rh5 Nf6 34. Rxf5
exf5 35. Qxf5+ Kxh6 36. Qg6# 1-0

[Event "BCF-ch"]
[Site "Edinburgh"]
[Date "1985.??.??"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Bellin, Robert"]
[Black "Ivell, Nicholas W"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A02"]
[WhiteElo "2395"]
[BlackElo "2350"]
[Annotator "Bulletin"]
[PlyCount "39"]
[EventDate "1985.08.??"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1998.11.10"]

1. f4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 Nf6 4. b3 b6 5. Bb2 Bb7 6. g3 Be7 7. Bg2 O-O 8. Qe2
Qc7 9. O-O a6 10. d3 b5 11. Nbd2 Nc6 12. c4 d6 13. Ng5 Rab8 14. Nde4 Qd8 15. f5
$1 15... exf5 (15... e5 $142) 16. Rxf5 Nxe4 17. Nxh7 $1 17... Ng5 (17... Kxh7
18. Rh5+ Kg8 19. Bxe4 f5 (19... Re8 20. Rh8+ Kxh8 21. Qh5+ Kg8 22. Qh7+ Kf8 23.
Qh8#) (19... f6 20. Rh8+ Kf7 21. Qh5+ Ke6 22. Bf5#) 20. Bd5+ Rf7 21. Rh8+ Kxh8
22. Qh5+ Kg8 23. Qxf7+ Kh8 24. Qh5#) (17... Nf6 18. Nxf6+ Bxf6 19. Bxf6 gxf6
20. Qg4+ Kh8 21. Rh5#) 18. Nxf8 Qxf8 19. Qh5 Nh7 (19... Ne6 20. Be4 $18) 20.
Rxf7 $1 1-0

[Event "corr"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1977.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Slinger, AJ (Tony) (ENG)"]
[Black "Gill, Neville BK (ENG)"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A03"]
[PlyCount "50"]
[EventDate "1977.??.??"]
[Source "Chess Mail Ltd"]
[SourceDate "2005.07.27"]

1. f4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. d3 d5 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O c5 7. c3 Nc6 8. Qc2 d4
9. Na3 Nd5 10. Bd2 e5 11. fxe5 Nxe5 12. Nxe5 Bxe5 13. Nc4 Bg7 14. e4 dxc3 15.
bxc3 Nb4 16. cxb4 Bxa1 17. Kh1 Bd4 18. e5 Be6 19. Bh6 cxb4 20. Bxf8 Qxf8 21.
Bxb7 Rb8 22. Be4 Qc5 23. Qe2 a5 24. h4 a4 25. h5 b3 0-1

[Event "Simultaneous Display 1977-8"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1977.09.20"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Wheeler, G.W."]
[Black "Halmkin, P."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A02"]
[PlyCount "45"]

1. f4 {G190} 1... e5 2. fxe5 d6 3. exd6 Bxd6 4. g3 Ne7 5. Nf3 c5 6. e4 Nbc6 7.
d3 Ng6 8. Bg5 Qc7 9. Nc3 Bxg3+ 10. hxg3 Qxg3+ 11. Kd2 Bg4 12. Rg1 Qf2+ 13. Qe2
Qxg1 14. Nxg1 Bxe2 15. Ngxe2 f6 16. Be3 b5 17. Bh3 Kf7 18. Rf1 Rad8 19. Kc1
Rhe8 20. Bf5 Nge5 21. Bf4 g6 22. Bh3 Kg7 23. Nd5 1-0

[Event "PCC"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1978.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Anstead, J."]
[Black "Gill, NBK."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A03"]
[PlyCount "95"]

1. f4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. b3 Bg7 4. Bb2 O-O 5. e3 d5 6. Be2 c5 7. O-O Nc6 8. Ne5
Bd7 (8... Be6 9. Nxc6 bxc6 10. Bf3) (8... a6 9. Nxc6 bxc6) (8... Nxe5 9. Bxe5)
(8... d4 9. Na3 $1 $14) (8... Qc7 9. Nc3 Nxe5 10. Nb5 Qb6 11. Bxe5 Ne8 12. Bxg7
Kxg7 13. a4 $14) 9. Bf3 9... Rc8 $5 10. Nc3 e6 11. Ne2 11... Na5 $2 12. g4 Ne8
13. d4 b6 14. dxc5 bxc5 15. Nxd7 Qxd7 16. Bxg7 Nxg7 17. c4 Rfd8 18. Qd2 Nc6 19.
Rad1 d4 20. Ng3 f6 21. Qg2 f5 22. gxf5 exf5 23. Rd2 Ne7 24. exd4 Ne6 25. d5
Nxf4 26. Nh5 Nxg2 27. Nf6+ Kg7 28. Nxd7 28... Nh4 $6 (28... Rxd7) 29. Ne5 g5
30. Bh5 Neg6 31. Bxg6 hxg6 32. Re2 g4 33. Kf2 Rc7 34. Rd1 (34. Rfe1 Rh8) 34...
Rd6 35. Rde1 g5 36. Nc6 Nf3 37. Re7+ Rxe7 38. Rxe7+ Kf8 (38... Kf6 39. Rh7 Kg6
40. Rxa7 Nxh2 41. Ne5+ Kh6 42. Nd3) 39. Rh7 (39. Rxa7 $2 39... Rh6 $1) 39...
Nd2 40. Ke3 Ne4 41. Ne5 Kg8 42. Rf7 g3 43. hxg3 Nxg3 44. Kf3 f4 45. Rxa7 Nf5
46. Ra5 Nd4+ 47. Ke4 Rf6 48. Ng4 1-0

[Event "10th CC World Ch Final 7884"]
[Site "corr ICCF"]
[Date "1978.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Muhana, J."]
[Black "Estrin, Y."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A02"]
[PlyCount "57"]

1. f4 e5 2. fxe5 d6 3. exd6 Bxd6 4. Nf3 g5 5. g3 g4 6. Nh4 Ne7 7. e4 f5 8. exf5
Nxf5 9. Qe2+ Kf7 10. Qf2 Qf6 11. Bc4+ Kg7 12. O-O Rf8 13. Nxf5+ Bxf5 14. d4 Nc6
15. c3 Qg6 16. Bf4 Bxf4 17. gxf4 Rf6 18. Nd2 Bd3 19. Bxd3 Qxd3 20. Rae1 Raf8
21. Ne4 Rxf4 22. Qxf4 Rxf4 23. Rxf4 h5 24. Ng3 Qd2 25. Re2 Qc1+ 26. Rf1 Qg5 27.
Nf5+ Kg8 28. d5 Na5 29. Re6 1-0

[Event "Palma de Mallorca izt"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1970.??.??"]
[Round "21"]
[White "Fischer, R."]
[Black "Mecking, H."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A03"]
[PlyCount "83"]
[EventDate "1970.??.??"]

1. b3 d5 2. Bb2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3 Nf6 5. Bb5 Bd7 6. O-O e6 7. d3 Be7 8. Bxc6
Bxc6 9. Ne5 Rc8 10. Nd2 O-O 11. f4 Nd7 12. Qg4 Nxe5 13. Bxe5 Bf6 14. Rf3 Qe7
15. Raf1 a5 16. Rg3 Bxe5 17. fxe5 f5 18. exf6 Rxf6 19. Qxg7+ Qxg7 20. Rxf6 Qxg3
21. hxg3 Re8 22. g4 a4 23. Nf3 axb3 24. axb3 Kg7 25. g5 e5 26. Nh4 Bd7 27. Rd6
Be6 28. Kf2 Kf7 29. Rb6 Re7 30. e4 dxe4 31. dxe4 c4 32. b4 Bg4 33. Ke3 Rd7 34.
g6+ Kf8 35. gxh7 Rxh7 36. Ng6+ Ke8 37. Nxe5 Bc8 38. Nxc4 Kd8 39. Nd6 Rg7 40.
Kf2 Kc7 41. Nxc8 Kxc8 42. Rd6 1-0

Because of the increased risk of the Bird, I reviewed what I knew about it in case someone played it against me... No-one did, so I thought I'd record the results of my review here.

" Having forgotten familar openings, I commenced adopting KBP for first move, and finding it let to highly interesting games out of the usual groove, I became partial to it." -- Henry BIRD

I first found out about Bird's opening (1.f4) in some random beginners' book, where the author dismissed it (as have many authors since) with the recommendation that Black play From's Gambit (1...e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 [idea 4...Qh4+ mating] 4.Nf3 g5!?), and noted that if the From turned out one day to be better for Black then White could dodge into the King's Gambit.  

That satisfied me for a while, but I became interested again when the opening kept cropping up in B.H.Wood's CHESS magazine in the 1970s.  That may have had something to do with the editor's own liking for the opening, but surely it was more than that: lots of players were happy to try the Bird (directly or by transposition) and you never saw a From.  Could it really be dismissed?  I rather suspected not, and that the From wasn't all it was cracked up to be: critical, surely, but if White knew what they were doing, perhaps they could keep the pawn and survive.

I was reassured when Neville Gill wallopped the Bird when winning the PCC Championship for 1976, then woken from my dogmatic slumbers when Jerry Anstead used the Bird to beat Gill (and others) winning the title in 1980.  Yet, Rumens and Bellin, both players of the Dutch defence, weren't above the occasional Bird while contesting the Grand Prix in weekend congresses.  Then I discovered Bent Larsen had been interested in it; not mere dabbling either, he took out Spassky with it in a crucial game: 

  • Larsen - Spassky B V [A03]

NB for all other example games, see above [...]

 

"In this last game with the white pieces I played Bird's Opening, of which most masters have no high opinion, but I chose it for the very reason that they do not play it and do not know it. I know it quite well, have many original ideas. Now I challenge Spassky with it; let us see what ideas he has to show."

Since Larsen's heyday, IM Tim Taylor and GM Henrik Danielsen have both played and promoted the Bird extensively; it's also a familiar feature of club and county games in the Westcountry. So, there's more to this opening than is obvious in the books; in fact, it's an ideal club opening in many ways -- unbalanced, untheoretical and underestimated!  [And like all such openings, it will become better known, people will write books about it, and eventually it will become an opening like any other...]

Bird plays the Bird

  • Bird H. - Blackburne J. [A03]

Lasker bids for immortality

  • Lasker E. - Bauer J. [A03]

 

Larsen has ideas

  • Larsen - Spassky B V [A03]

 

Fischer transposes

  • Fischer R. - Mecking H. [A06]

Wood pushing

  • Wood BH - Parr F [A03]

 

Dutch specialists turn the table

  • Rumens D. - Bennett G. [A02]
  • Bellin R. - Ivell N. [A02]

Wallop

  • Slinger A. - Gill N. [A02]

The biter bit

  • Anstead J. - Gill N. [A02]

Bird spotting in Devon

  • Wheeler G. - Halmkin P. [A02]

 

A World Championship Bird

  • Muhana J. - Estrin Y. [A02]

Defending against the Bird

This is really what I spent my time looking at.  There is no consensus in the books and comics about Black's best line: Gufeld recommends the From; Keene & Levy suggest 1...d5, 2...Nf6 and 3...Bg4 (but consider only 3.e3); Aagaard & Lund prefer 2...Bg4; and so on.  Perhaps all are adequate, but it seemed to me that the From would be no surprise, and that systems with ...Bg4 allowed White to play the sort of unclear attack with 1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 and 6.g4 that they were surely hoping for.

On the other hand, going for 2...g6 and allowing White to play the Dutch with a move in hand wasn't attractive either; all the various treatments that Black can adopt (Stonewall, Ilyin-Zhenevsky, Leningrad, Antoshin) have their counterpart in the Bird and all looked thoroughly playable for White, and, as I don't play the White side of the Dutch, I thought I wouldn't thrive a move behind.  As long as White avoids the various pitfalls known to theory (e.g. 1.f4 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.b3? d4!) I imagine White would be pleased to play this way.

Actually, what am I familiar with?  I have a reputation for knowing a lot of opening theory, but, while I do find it fascinating, my actual over-the-board choices are usually driven by the desires to (a) avoid any theory, and (b) avoid whatever my opponent wants to play.  This rather negative philosophy led me to consider 1...c5 and 1...g6, both systems that I have played on and off against 1.e4 for years.  Checking with Tim Taylor's excellent monograph, I see he concluded that White cannot expect any advantage with standard Bird moves against 1...c5, and should instead transpose into some sort of Sicilian with 1.e4 -- perhaps either the Closed or Grand Prix variations of the Sicilian Defence, although Taylor prefers Be2. As I am usually very happy to see White choose anything like these when I play 1.e4 c5, I resolved on 1.f4 c5.  I have an idea that if Black were more recently rehearsed in the Modern and King's Indian than I am currently, then 1...g6 with ...d6 and eventually ...e5 would be an equally uncooperative yet satisfactory way to defend.

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