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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Berlin (Read 25728 times)
kevinludwig
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Re: Berlin
Reply #62 - 03/07/06 at 00:13:05
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Recently in the Berlin, it seems that black has been playing 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. 0-0 Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Nc3 Ne7. Is there some reason why 8. ...Ne7 is currently preferred? Is it my imagination? Or fashion? For example, if I remember right, when Kramnik first started playing these lines, he was playing h6/Bd7/Kc8/b6 etc..., and only Ne7 later. Any insight would be helpful...
  
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micawber
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Re: Berlin
Reply #61 - 02/21/06 at 04:59:04
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Look at www.chessbase.com (Svidler-Topalov; Linares round 1; 1-0) for a good example of white's chances to demolish the berlin wall
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #60 - 02/16/06 at 10:36:20
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Also, 4.Qe2 looks bad. Black can play Bc5, 0-0 and Re8 and have a very good position.
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #59 - 02/16/06 at 10:33:40
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Why is loosing castling rights not mentioned? THAT is the difference white has in favour in the Berlin.

What I find difficult is the white square control black has on the kingside. The manouevre Bb4-c3 (removing white knight) is played by Black as a means of increasing the grip on the white squares. Of course white moves the knight....

The winning chances black has come from the b6 Kc8-b7-c6 set up, the weakness of the e5 pawn and the pressure on the white pawns placed on white squares on the Q-side (typically a2-b3-c4). This is implemented by a Be6 and a well timed b5 and/or a5-a4....
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #58 - 02/08/06 at 16:40:32
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[quote author=Paddy link=1077692552/45#55 date=1139333837
In both lines, with only the queens and one minor piece each exchanged, it could be argued that we are still in a queenless middlegame, in which therefore some middlegame themes still apply.

[/quote]

Of course you are correct. That was careless of me. It's very much a middlegame, albeit a queenless one.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #57 - 02/08/06 at 12:32:53
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I play the Ruy Lopez Exchange myself, just to cut down the amount of stuff I have to study on top of the other main lines in other openings I play.

Anyway, back to the Berlin Defence, can anyone point or provide us with a sample of critical games?
  
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TalJechin
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Re: Berlin
Reply #56 - 02/08/06 at 10:44:30
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I think it would be a mistake to choose the Berlin Wall because of it's recent popularity in
grandmaster-chess. A strong grandmaster might judge a draw with black fully acceptable and have the technique to make it so. For club-level players things might be a little different. To spend your whole evening defending a slightly inferior endgame without winning-chances is not everyone's idea of enjoying his/hers chess-evening.
I know, i defended the ruy-lopez exchange queenless endgame twice against players of master-strength.
Result:  0.5/2 while both games ran over 80 moves; it was just pure torture for me!


One good thing with the Berlin is that it avoids the exchange variation. Last night I met 4.Bxc6 in five games in a row against five different opponents. So it seems Ruy players have lost faith in their main lines...  Roll Eyes
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #55 - 02/07/06 at 17:37:17
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TimS wrote on 02/06/06 at 11:30:10:
[quote author=TalJechin link=1077692552/45#49 date=1139223301]
What I find interesting is that Theory generally considers the Berlin endgame to be slightly advantageous for White despite the pawn on e5, whereas the Exchange endgame is supposed to be equal even though the pawn is on e4. Surely something is wrong here?


A good question.

In both lines, with only the queens and one minor piece each exchanged, it could be argued that we are still in a queenless middlegame, in which therefore some middlegame themes still apply.

After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.d4 exd4 6.Qxd4 Qxd4 7.Nxd4 it is Black to move, so he is only the usual one half-move behind in development and, being able to castle, is able to connect his rooks and coordinate his forces rather quickly and easily.

But after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 it is White to move, so White is two tempi ahead in development. In addition, Black finds it difficult to coordinate his forces and connect his rooks, since he cannot castle. Also the Nf5 is not ideally placed and often needs to move again. Finally Black often needs to consume more time with ...h6 to control g5 and protect his bishop pair from harassment. IMHO compared with the Exchange Variation, in the Berlin Wall it takes a strong player to be able to coordinate Black's forces and make good use of the bishop pair

PS Isn't it interesting how chess theory is so often cyclical? Tarrasch and Pillsbury both played and thought highly of the Berlin Wall. For instance, in Tarrasch's "The Game of Chess" he wrote after Black's 8th move: "The play has brought about an end-game in which the chances are approximately equal. White's king's pawn is not well placed, and Black's two bishops ensure him a good game."
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #54 - 02/07/06 at 09:29:25
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Personally, while certainly not looking to encourage people to play this way, I think that at lower levels, the Berlin is as good a way as any to play for a win with Black.  Demonstrating any advantage for White is no easy matter even at 2700+ and requires masterful technique and a good appreciation of the endgame.  Moreover, it is easy for White to get frustrated and overpress.
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #53 - 02/07/06 at 01:05:22
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I think it would be a mistake to choose the Berlin Wall because of it's recent popularity in
grandmaster-chess. A strong grandmaster might judge a draw with black fully acceptable and have the technique to make it so. For club-level players things might be a little different. To spend your whole evening defending a slightly inferior endgame without winning-chances is not everyone's idea of enjoying his/hers chess-evening.
I know, i defended the ruy-lopez exchange queenless endgame twice against players of master-strength.
Result:  0.5/2 while both games ran over 80 moves; it was just pure torture for me!
  
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TalJechin
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Re: Berlin
Reply #52 - 02/06/06 at 12:23:31
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TimS wrote on 02/06/06 at 11:30:10:
TalJechin wrote on 02/06/06 at 10:55:01:
One way of getting to know the Berlin endgame might be to look at the typical endgames arising from other Spanish main lines.

The exchange variation is very similar - except that the Berlin should be the better version due to white having a pawn on e5 blocking his bishop and black having played Nf6 instead of a6.


What I find interesting is that Theory generally considers the Berlin endgame to be slightly advantageous for White despite the pawn on e5, whereas the Exchange endgame is supposed to be equal even though the pawn is on e4. Surely something is wrong here?


Good point!

I suppose the Berlin gives black better long term chances due to pawn-e5, but the chance to place a controlling knight on e4 gives white a dynamic advantage of better piece play/activity. Which may explain why a slight inaccuracy from white can lead to an advantage for black very quickly, as 'dynamic play' has a tendency to evaporate...

At my club we recently had a double rounded theme quickplay tm on the Berlin ending, and afterwards all agreed that it was easier to play black with limited time, while the titled players believed that white should be able to keep control of the game at longer time controls. But if black really knows what he's doing he's OK.

Most of us had noticed Aleksandrov's games as black, where he usually advances his a-pawn very soon, instead of 9....Ke8/9...h6/9...Ne7 etc. I guess it's a waiting move or two to see white's set-up, but one must really understand the position to be able to judge what replies would be best to counter white's different set-ups. - It'll be interesting to see what conclusions Aagaard/Lund come to here.
« Last Edit: 02/07/06 at 12:08:42 by TalJechin »  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #51 - 02/06/06 at 12:11:46
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I wouldn't agree. The theorie also gives a slightly advantage to white. In the book of Kinderman is some analysis.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #50 - 02/06/06 at 11:30:10
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TalJechin wrote on 02/06/06 at 10:55:01:
One way of getting to know the Berlin endgame might be to look at the typical endgames arising from other Spanish main lines.

The exchange variation is very similar - except that the Berlin should be the better version due to white having a pawn on e5 blocking his bishop and black having played Nf6 instead of a6.


What I find interesting is that Theory generally considers the Berlin endgame to be slightly advantageous for White despite the pawn on e5, whereas the Exchange endgame is supposed to be equal even though the pawn is on e4. Surely something is wrong here?
  
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TalJechin
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Re: Berlin
Reply #49 - 02/06/06 at 10:55:01
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One way of getting to know the Berlin endgame might be to look at the typical endgames arising from other Spanish main lines.

The exchange variation is very similar - except that the Berlin should be the better version due to white having a pawn on e5 blocking his bishop and black having played Nf6 instead of a6.

In the Steinitz deferred I saw some Keres game where black's bishops did very well despite having his queenside split.

Suggested sources: Mastering the Endgame: Open Games, or game collections by Keres, Fischer and others who've played the Ruy consistently.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #48 - 02/01/06 at 13:39:21
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Hello,

I was interested to see the option of going into an Open Ruy Lopez from Berlin move order. On that theme, if black wants a change from the endgame, can try 4... Bc5, which Leko liked a lot in 99. He introduced a new plan with e5*d4 and g5, but it has not been popular with top players more recently.

Bye John S
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #47 - 01/31/06 at 17:23:28
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Quality Chess is publishing "The Berlin Wall" by Aagaard and Lund soon (spring 2006). 208 pages.
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #46 - 11/13/05 at 01:29:04
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Is there any article that explains the nuances in the Berlin? Most works point out general features such as the pawn on e5 leaving f5 and d5 unprotected and Black's 2 bishops but don't go into details.  When do you play h6 or a5, re-route the N on f5 to e7 and g6, play c5 etc. While Khalifman does provide some pointers, these are mainly for white. Even Flear in his book on offbeat Spanish does not explain Black's ideas and when it is apprpriate to play these moves. I had a look at some of Bacrot's games where he plays Ne7 instead of the more common Ke8 or Bdr or h6. Can anyone explain the Berlin?


You might want to take a look at The Chess Advantage in Black and White, by (US international master) Larry Kaufman.  It recommends the Berlin for Black, and the relevant section of the book was written with the collaboration of Alex Sherzer, a US grandmaster who has played it for many years.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #45 - 11/12/05 at 23:57:40
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Is there any article that explains the nuances in the Berlin? Most works point out general features such as the pawn on e5 leaving f5 and d5 unprotected and Black's 2 bishops but don't go into details.  When do you play h6 or a5, re-route the N on f5 to e7 and g6, play c5 etc. While Khalifman does provide some pointers, these are mainly for white. Even Flear in his book on offbeat Spanish does not explain Black's ideas and when it is apprpriate to play these moves. I had a look at some of Bacrot's games where he plays Ne7 instead of the more common Ke8 or Bdr or h6. Can anyone explain the Berlin?
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #44 - 05/23/05 at 09:05:25
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Being a solid type (c-k/rubinstein french), the Berlin interests me greatly as well, and I also read Short's comments in NIC with great interest. But a cynical part of me feels he was really trying to discourage people from taking up the berlin  Grin

It is also quite baffling that such a natural move as 3.... Nf6 is only in fashion in recent years. ???
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #43 - 05/22/05 at 20:28:05
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Since when has the Marshall become worse than the Berlin ? Grin

I am sure Adams, Nunn, Anand, Sokolov and a whole host of other top Grandmasters would disagree with you there.

In fact it now seems that White's best option is to avoid the Marshall altogether.

Top  Grin
  

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The Berlin
Reply #42 - 05/22/05 at 19:55:48
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The problem with that quote about the Berlin is this:
  the alternatives for Bl (the Open, the Chigorin, the Marshall) are worse than the Berlin for Black, at the current state of theory.
   That is why top Black players play the Berlin: you hardly ever see anything else for Black And the proof is in the pudding. The Berlin is extremely difficult to crack.
  White does have an edge, but it's no more or less than in any other major opening at this point of the game.
   And Black has long-term compensation in the white-squared B.
   I regularly play the Berlin against top rated ICCF opponents. My results with the Berlin have been greatly superior to those with any other major line in the Ruy for Black.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #41 - 05/22/05 at 13:00:31
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The Open Ruy is under big pressure these days in the line:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Be3!  Grin

Any revival will have to address the problems posed there.

Top Grin


Thanks for that info.  Dear me, yet more "big pressure" against the Open.  No sooner is 9. Nbd2 dealt with (seemingly so, anyway) than this pops up.
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #40 - 05/22/05 at 11:09:46
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I just like to quote Nigel Short on the Berlin endgame:

"Here we are at the starting point of the Berlin proper. There are some strong 1.e4 players, fearful of the two bishops and fretful that the e-pawn has crossed a bridge too far, who believe that this position is equal. Nevertheless, Vladimir Kramnik, the world's greatest expert on this opening, informed me - perhaps it was in Bahrain - that White definitely has the edge. I concur with the sage's assessment, as, I might add, does Michael Adams. Indeed, with better development, a superior pawn structure and Black's king awkwardly placed stuck in the centre, why should it not be so? The black position is simply not easy to handle, as Garry Kasparov - a man who has invested not a few hours in analysing the Berlin - discovered to his cost against Judit Polgar. Interestingly, Peter Leko - someone renowned for his excellent defensive technique - confided to me that he had also tried with black in a few trainning games, but with poor results. There are, of course, people who have subtle appreciation of the Berlin's nuance; Alexey Alexandrov and Zoltan Almasi spring to mind. However, it is certainly not everyone's cup of tea."

You can find this at NiC 2005/02, pages 37-38.

The big guys don't think too highly of this defense. Personally I find the Berlin only suited for the masochist...
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #39 - 05/21/05 at 19:02:04
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The Open Ruy is under big pressure these days in the line:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Be3!  Grin

Any revival will have to address the problems posed there.

Top Grin
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #38 - 05/21/05 at 17:43:31
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On 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 O-O Nxe4 5 d4 , Black is not compelled to play Nd6 : he can play 5...a6 , going back to Open variation ( else , White has no better)
This is recommanded  by Kevin O'Connel in his book


Yes, I played the Open for many years, and this is how I always reached it.  At the time the stock of the Exchange stood rather high, and this way you can reach the Open without encountering that system.  More recently, trying to find something new against the Berlin, some people have been looking more closely at 5. Re1.  This was supposed to lead to pretty easy equality for Black, but apparently there is some doubt being cast on that.

Personally I have little taste for the "Berlin Endgame."  I am impressed by White's activity.  We could quibble over terminology, but it's not really an endgame, is it?

I would like to reply to one aspect of the orgininal post: its generalizations about what sort of players play the Spanish and what sort of systems they're likely to be comfortable with.  I see this kind of reasoning on this forum a lot, and elsewhere too, but I think it's a big mistake to design your repertoire based on the supposed strengths and weaknesses of people who play given systems.  It would be much better to design it based on your own strengths and weaknesses.   

Just to come back to the Open, my impression is that it's stock is up since Ponomariov demonstrated Black's good chances in that piece-down endgame that arises from 9. Nbd2 Nc5  10. c3 d5  11. Ng5 Qxg5 and so forth.  Is anyone aware of anything that would call into question an "=" evaluation of that particular endgame?  A little while ago I played a cc game (on net-chess) with the Black pieces against a ICCF 2400+ opponent, but it proved nothing since we both just followed the moves of the Ponomariov game until a the very last, and a draw was straightforwardly obtained.

I do think that if Black's is solid after 9. Nbd2, the stage may be set for an Open Defense revival.
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #37 - 05/21/05 at 13:24:50
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Did I not mention three others earlier in this thread. Grin

Top  Grin
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #36 - 05/21/05 at 06:52:19
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This thread made me spend hard earned money. Cry I all along played only French but I just ordered Kaufman's "Chess Advantage in Black and White". I hope I will  Grin after I go thro' the book.

BTW, are there other good books on Berlin?
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #35 - 04/21/05 at 19:17:53
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If Garri couldn't do it, it's doubtful if anyone here can...  ???

I was wondering if some of you have any idea why Kasparov seemed to be so uncombative during the BG match against Kramnik?

It seems he had some good and promising positions right at the end of the openig in a few games, but he seemed not to try to take any advantage of it ?!

His fighting spirit only seemed to resurface again hen he was Black, as if he dreamed of turning the tides with Black so as to make an impressive comeback during the match ?!

What are your opinions about that ?

Thanks
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #34 - 04/21/05 at 16:33:40
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I hope this post proved useful, and remember the Ruy Lopez is still by far the most pomisng 1e4 e5 Opening for White.
Top  Grin  

Hello Wink
Yes, very useful, thanks a lot.
Cheers
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #33 - 04/21/05 at 16:25:04
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Top Notch, I am surprised you still recommend that line. In my view, it is worth a surprise, as obviously Nielsen and other very strong grandmasters have suffered, but after learning the c6 + Ne8 plan white gets absolutely nothing.

I currently believe it is a question of studying the nuances of the Berlin endgame. Black chances are not that great to win, so it must be boring to try that line over and over...

Hi Wink
Yes, boring maybe, but if a Black player decides to play for a draw, and likes this type of maneuvering game, and is patient and resilient, I find it extremely difficult for White to get any dangerous initiative...

I'm no expert at Chess, just an enthusiastic amateur, but I launched a few chess playing programs on the Berlin endgame line, in 'shootout' mode (i.e. when one engine goes on to play against itself until the end), and the result is always the same: White seems to get an advantage, perhaps even a two pawns advantage, but then the resulting 'catch-as-catch-can endgame' finish is drawn by Black's compensating activity... resulting in a levelling of the material.

I hope I'll come back often on this forum which I discovered by chance today, 'googling' on Berlin Endgame...

Cheers Wink
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #32 - 04/11/05 at 07:12:35
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Top Notch, I am surprised you still recommend that line. In my view, it is worth a surprise, as obviously Nielsen and other very strong grandmasters have suffered, but after learning the c6 + Ne8 plan white gets absolutely nothing.

The Kasparov Gambit (game 16, 1985 match) is a classic that brought Kasparov the world title (no less!) but it has been proven unsound. So many other lines. That attacking line is just good to stick in DVD's and claim that they could be an 'attacking option' against the Berlin.

That's why Kasparov tried it against Kramnik....

OTB chess admits many things. Sharp lines bringing no more than equality after both sides have negotiated a couple of pitfalls and things like KI attack against French and 2...e6 in the sicilian. As to good to play EVERYTIME....

I believe your comments on the Berlin endgame and that of others are much more to the point. As for whether kramnik would have won playing anything.... look at the games first... (Hracek-Kramnik of 4.d3 and Bonnet-Kramnik are in Shaw's book).

I currently believe it is a question of studying the nuances of the Berlin endgame. Black chances are not that great to win, so it must be boring to try that line over and over...
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #31 - 04/09/05 at 17:16:57
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Yes....but is the Open Ruy any good for black? That is the question.  Grin

Makes one wonder who is tricking whom by such a transposition. In the meantime no one here has suggested anything juicy against this Berlin menace.

Are the players of the White side here so unimaginative, or are they simply waiting to see what happens in the next game at Super GM level.

I have looked at the Berlin endgame, and I had no idea how rich it was. My study has left me with this conclusion, if both sides understand what they should be doing in this endgame, then black has to work hard just to draw. That said I'm not sure if this endgame is what amateur players of the White side should playing against their peers.

There are a myriad of interesting sidelines that should and could be exlored, I have already recommended one earlier in this thread. Someone suggested that the idea I gave earlier could be easily neutralised by a timely c6 and Ne8, this is a sound idea but I believe there is room for improvement on the Shirov vs Hracek game given in Kaufman's 'The Chess Advantage in Black n White', for instance 10.Qe2 instead of the more popular alternatives 10.b3, 10.Qf3 could be investigated, for e.g if Black now mindlessly tries the cure for all 10....Bf6 11.Re3 Ne8?? then 12.Bxh7!! check wins handily. This theme crops up a lot in this line. Another plus in favor of 10. Qe2 is that it is not mentioned in Kaufman's book, and I suspect many amateurs using it will fall blindly into the above trap.  

Kaufman also uses Socko vs Lautier to dismiss another intersting line, prematurely in my opinion. This line should black play as Lautier did is quite dangerous for him. 9.Bf4 instead of Socko's 9.Re1ch should be investigated more closely, this is looked at by kaufman and he concludes that black is better, but in my opinion his analysis there can be improved upon. Moreover, it is quite telling that in my database at least no one has cared to repeat Lautier's play.

Returning to the endgame, those players who would like to study it in more detail I can recommend the following books: The Chess Advantage in Black and White; Opening for White according to Anand - vol 1; Easy Guide to The Ruy Lopez by John Emms; Offbeat Spanish by Glen Flear. These books when studied together give a complete understanding of how this endgame should be played from both sides both in terms of analysis and themes. Even after just a cursory read you will already get a feel for the do's and dont's of this now perhaps the most fashionable endgame in chess.

I hope this post proved useful, and remember the Ruy Lopez is still by far the most pomisng 1e4 e5 Opening for White.

Regards

Top  Grin  
« Last Edit: 05/21/05 at 13:23:38 by TopNotch »  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #30 - 04/09/05 at 06:10:20
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On 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 O-O Nxe4 5 d4 , Black is not compelled to play Nd6 : he can play 5...a6 , going back to Open variation ( else , White has no better)
This is recommanded  by Kevin O'Connel in his book
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #29 - 04/08/05 at 03:40:26
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Geof: I'm not really sure all 1.e4 players can be called attacking players. I think 1.d4 is as aggressive as 1.e4. It's very hard to obtain the same type of game in every possible variation. Sometimes it's best to go for an early endgame, in other lines a sacrifice of a pawn or even an exchange gives the best chances. I think most players accept this. They may not like it or play as good in all types of positions, but to avoid certain types of positions is almost impossible.

I've always considered the Ruy Lopez more of a positional opening rather than an attacking one. White is often mostly slowly manouvering towards an attack rather than launching assaults.

The snooze-effect can backfire. If a player only plays the Berlin I think it's probable that he soon become bored with this type of game. Many other lines offer a greater variety of types of positions.
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #28 - 03/31/05 at 06:52:23
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Wouldn't Kramnik have won those two games too with say 1.e4 Na6?
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #27 - 03/31/05 at 01:12:47
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I find endgames very interesting AND like to attack, but I don't like the Berlin endgame. That pawn needs to be on e4!

Regarding 4.d3, Shaw gives a game Hracek-Kramnik that I find worrying in Starting out... Kramnik plays Bc5 and attacks in the kingside. Not very inspiring for white, I must say...

And there is also a virtuoso performance of the endgame as black in Bonnet-Kramnik. Black wins with ease...
« Last Edit: 04/08/05 at 06:20:07 by Fernando Semprun »  

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Berlin resources?
Reply #26 - 03/26/05 at 01:24:29
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I agree with Glenn that the Berlin is often very boring, but some people enjoying that sort of chess.

As for resources on the Berlin, other than the Larry Kaufman book, can anyone recommend more recent books, CDs or online treatment of the Berlin?
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #25 - 07/17/04 at 23:38:17
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I certainly think the Berlin is a decent variation but both sides have to be familiar with the plans and nuances of the resulting positions.  If you play this way as White you simply have to be prepared.  It's also not the ideal defence  for everyone.  I for one would fall asleep not long after 14.Bb2.
  
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Berlin
Reply #24 - 07/17/04 at 22:40:08
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My personal experience confirms my confidence in the RL Berlin for Black. I am ICCF 2400, which is about equivalent to FIDE 2250. I have been playing Black Berlin Defense at W.Ch. Semifinal level now for 3 years.
   It has produced more points for me than any opening, White or Black.
  My last game vs. a 2440 ICCF player was typical.
  1 e4, e5; 2 Nf3 Nc6; 3 Bb5, Nf6; 4 0-0, Nxe4; 5 d4, Nd6; 6 Bxc6, dxc; 7 dxe, Nf5; 8 Qxd8ch, kxd8; 9 Nc3 Bd7;
10 Rd1, Kc8; 11 Ng5, Be8; 12 Nge4, b6; 13 b3, c5; 14 Bb2, Nd4; 15 Nd5?, Nxc2
  Black had an edge here and went on to outplay White in the endgame, so I won't give any further moves.
   But my point is that after 14 Bb2, the position can be hard to appraise if the White player is not deeply familiar with the nuances of the position.
   White appears to have both a very large development edge and a solid space advantage, but in my view, Black is equal or, at worst, has only the minimal minus which Black always has at the end of the opening after perfect theoretical play on both sides.
     Black's defensive position is very solid here, as his two Bs protect the key squares on the back two ranks where White might hope to penetrate.
   I used to struggle with the Black side of the RL Open Defense or Marshall Defense. For now, I am VERY comfortable as Black in the RL Berlin Defense.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #23 - 07/08/04 at 11:12:26
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A quick comment on the 4.Qe2 system against the Berlin, as referred to in a couple of replies on this thread. I've played this (once!) because I like the Worrall (or the Wormald) attack after 3...a6. I've found one significant difference: after 3...a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.Qe2, 5...Bc5 is inferior for Black because white can win a pawn with 6.Bxc6, 7.Nxe5 and a subsequent Nd3 hitting the bishop on c5.

In the analagous line after 3...Nf6 however, Black has an interesting resource: 4. Qe2 Bc5 (I think this is generally quite desirable for Black after an early Qe2, because white has loosened his grip on d4) 5. Bxc6 bxc6!? 6.Nxe5 Qe7 7.Nd3 Ba6! There was some interest in this line in the 90s, but black seems to be doing OK as far as I can see. White can grovel around to try to hold the pawn but Black is very active in compensation.

Questions: can anyone prove any sort of edge for White in the above line? And, if not, can anyone suggest any 5th move alternatives that promise White more than total equality?
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #22 - 06/26/04 at 14:12:00
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I wholeheartedly concur with Geof (at least on a few key points. Firstly, Khalifman's analysis in OFWATA Vol. 1 (Opening for White According to Anand!!) is really far from convincing and 1. e4 players (myself included) don't want to reach an endgame by move 12. I really don't think he proved any White advantage and, to be honest, unless you're an endgame virtuoso I wouldn't recommend the main line for white, unless you're content with a draw. I think white has excellent practical chances in the 4. Qe2 and 4. d3 (my preference). The latter line is especialyl useful because it allows white to play in the normal Ruy Lopez style w/ c3 and an eventual d4.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #21 - 06/25/04 at 11:39:12
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Oops, somehow I posted my message before I completed it. Sad  However, I have gone on long enough so I will just end by saying the following.

If you are a white player of 1.e4 and the Ruy Lopez, you should take the Berlin very seriously.  Discounting it as "inferior" may come back to haunt you, as the Berlin Endgame is not so clear (and you can lose as White and probably will if you think a win or draw is automatic) and there are imbalances (the bishop pair!) which allow Black to try to play for a win.  Moreover, your options to the Berlin Endgame (e.g., 4.d3 or 4.0-0 and 5. Re1) are probably less theoretically promising. (There is a reason why Khalifman chose the Berlin Endgame for White in his "Opening...According to Anand" series!).  Finally, the popularity of the Berlin continues to grow, and you are likely to face it with some frequency unless you decide to avoid the Ruy altogether.  (And you probably shouldn't avoid the Ruy Lopez, as studying it will teach you far more about chess than studying the King's Gambit, Vienna, Scotch, etc.) 

If you are a black player and are looking for a good practical defense to 1.e4, the Berlin has both theoretical and psychological merit, and playing it may even help your chess development by providing you with experience in a very educational endgame.  I can recommend Kaufman's book "The Chess Advantage In Black and White" as a good source of material on this endgame (although only about 1/4 of this 500 page book is devoted to a Black repertoire after 1.e4 e5), or even just taking a look at the 5 Berlin games analyzed in John Shaw's "Starting Out: the Ruy Lopez" would probably provide enough information to play the Berlin below master level, particularly if you can go online (or to your chess database, if you have one) and look at the games of Kramnik, Aleksandrov, Vallejo Pons, Nielsen, Krasenkow,etc.., on the Black side of this line.

Just my opinion.  Grin

            - Geof
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #20 - 06/25/04 at 11:14:26
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I am afraid I must disagree with those who seem to be suggesting that the Berlin is an "inferior" variation of the Ruy Lopez.  True, it is probably not a refutation of the Ruy Lopez, and true White MAY be able to keep an edge in the Berlin endgame with accurate play, but this is perhaps true of any defense to 1.e4.  The fact that Khalifman spends 44 (!) pages trying to prove an edge (sometimes slight) in the Berlin Endgame is, of itself, an indication of the soundness of Black's position.  And Black continues to go into the Berlin Endgame at the highest levels, and not without success....

Besides remaining theoretically acceptable, the Berlin also has a practical, psychological aspect which should be considered.  World class players aside, few players of 1.e4 are really as happy in a possibly += endgame as they are in a possibly += middlegame with attacking chances.  Since the theoretical mainline against the Berlin is just such an endgame, Black may often benefit from White's lack of comfort with his position.

My personal experience suggests that at anything below, say, IM level, playing positions like the Berlin Endgame with Black can be very effective.  In the late 1980s and early 1990's, I started playing 1...e5 in response to 1.e4 aiming, in particular, for the Breyer variation.  After I won a few games in the Black side of the Breyer (wins which had little or nothing to do with the theoretical merits of the Breyer, and more to do with the "snooze value" of the variation), many expert/master strength players in the Los Angeles area started playing the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez against me, apparently with the idea that it was smart to avoid the Breyer.  At one point, in a period of a year as Black I faced 12 Exchange Variations in a row without every reaching a Closed Ruy Lopez!  After one draw and a lucky win (my opponent missed a forced winning line) against a couple of experts (2000-2199 USCF; at the time I was rated in the high 2200s), I did some fairly serious theoretical work on several different Black lines.  In my next 10 games, my score as Black in the Exchange Variation was 9.5 points! What I discovered once I had studied the Black side of the Exchange Variation was this:  most 1.e4 players (and admittedly, all of my games were against players rated from about 2000 to 2350 USCF) are not comfortable in such positions and they do not play them well.  It was not so much that I was playing the Black side  particularly well (during the same period I had a fairly miserable score on the Black side of the King's Indian), as the fact that most of my opponents played the Exhange Variation endgames at a strength at least 100-200 points beneath their rating. 

The Berlin Endgame is, of course, similar to the Exchange Variation, with the advanced Pe5 somewhat favoring Black and the Black King being unable to castle somewhat favoring White.  As noted in Glenn Snow's post, it is recommended in IM Larry Kaufman's "The Chess Advantage in Black and White" as Black's main defense to 1.e4.  Although such a "passive" repertoire choice may be offputting to some people, I personally believe that this is an extremely savvy recommendation by IM Kaufman.

First, you get the "snooze effect" described above, resulting from a lot of rabid, attacking 1.e4 players who find themselves, unhappily, in an endgame, or in a much less aggressive variation of the Closed Ruy after 4.d3.  (The 4.0-0, 5.Re

Second, the amount of theoretical work you need to do to prepare this defense (at least for play at the amateur level) is significantly less than the work needed to prepare a mainline Closed or Open Ruy Lopez.  At the same time, you do have to prepare Black defenses against non-Ruy Lopez lines, so if you later want to add other Ruy Lopez variations to your Black repertoire, you will have a lot of the work already. 

Third, by playing the Berlin at least a certain number of your games will end up in the Berlin Endgame, and I think that you can learn a lot about the endgame by playing a lot of endgames and then analyzing your games later.  (At least I know I did.)
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #19 - 06/19/04 at 10:17:35
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Well after all that was said and done, the Berlin continues to grow in popularity at all levels  Grin

GM John Emms recently abandoned the Ruy Lopez after failing to get an advantage against new recruit IM David Howell.

So the battle against the Berlin continues.

Top  Grin
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #18 - 05/06/04 at 14:10:55
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I couldn't agree more.  The Berlin was a match weapon Kramnik used against Kasparov...if they had a rematch I would not be suprised if it wasn't played again.

After the match Kramnik talked about bad positions he knew he could draw...

Frankly if an clubmate/opponent is so good that they can take a slightly inferior endgame like the Berlin, avoid making any mistakes, and successfully drain all of my advantage, and eventually draw me, then I would be happy that they are only playing to draw me instead of playing for the win!

Also, for the sake of creative interests I would play 6.Nxe5!? if I take up the Spanish again!
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #17 - 05/06/04 at 03:59:08
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I can vouch for that. I have always played the Ruy Lopez as white and never faced the Berlin. While it was a useful weapon for Kramnik against Garry K, I think that only certain types of players are ever likely to use it, and perhaps only then for surprise value.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #16 - 05/06/04 at 03:31:03
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The Berlin's star has begun to wane again.  The point about the Berlin endgame is that Kramnik intended it as a drawing weapon for a specific match - it is very resilient and resisted Kasparov's attempts to break it down during the match.  But there is no doubt that White has a slight advantage and can put Black under some serious pressure.

True, if White plays inaccurately, Black's bishops can sometimes generate some winning chances for Black, but I suspect that as time goes on we will see more and more White players getting to grips with the subtleties and notching up points against Black players who think their position is better than it really is.
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #15 - 05/05/04 at 16:18:55
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Well, what I meant was that if White's winning chances were as bad as they seem here, then it would be played more at gm level. Maybe I'm missing something.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #14 - 05/04/04 at 18:39:23
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Quote:
I think seriously that if the Berlin was really that great that White couldn't gain a slight advantage, it would be played more often.


I really don't think White's chances are that great in the ending. However, neither are black's! (Yes, I know the famous Kasparov-Kramnik gave). If black knows the endgame really well and is comfortable with it, he can try it out but most black players do not want to play an opening that lands them with an opening which is (at best) equal after less than 20 moves.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #13 - 05/04/04 at 18:34:58
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The reason why the Berlin is not more popular is simply that the resulting endgames are not everyone's cup of tea, especially at club level.  Grin

I agree with Glen that the 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 is a very interesting try for advantage, particularly below GM level. This line is a favorite of the reknowned Soviet GM and theortician Leonid Shamkovich and one could do a lot worse than studying his games in this variation. There is also a book entitled ' The Chess Terrorist's Handbook' by Shamkovich himself where he lays out in detail the subtleties  of this attacking line vs the Berlin. Highly recommended. 

In more recent times the potency of  4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 was confirmed when GM Luke Mcshane used the line to crush feared theortician GM Peter Heine Nielsen in a blistering attacking game. There is no doubt that this little known and somewhat underestimated line has the potential to be a terrific point scorer at all levels.

Happy hunting

Top  Grin
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #12 - 05/04/04 at 17:11:36
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lol  Cheesy

I think seriously that if the Berlin was really that great that White couldn't gain a slight advantage, it would be played more often.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #11 - 05/04/04 at 11:40:04
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Sure! He has a pawn more. Cheesy
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #10 - 05/04/04 at 05:47:10
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Does the Berlin really offer more chances to White than say the King's Gambit?
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #9 - 05/03/04 at 16:21:44
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Hot off the press  Cheesy

check out the following two games from the Sigeman tournament, deFirmian-Nielsen (a wonderful game from the dane) if you like black and Rozentalis-Aagaard if you like white...

http://www.ksu.dk/sigeman/vispartier.asp?id=3&runde=4
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #8 - 05/03/04 at 10:58:36
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I can't believe that 4.Nc3 (Spanish Four Knights) can lead to an advantage for white. Emms covers it in his 'Play the Open Games as Black': I'll try getting some lines up soon.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #7 - 05/02/04 at 13:13:31
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In his recent book, Kaufman recommends 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5, which he believes leads to a very slight advantage for White.  He also states, "since the bishop looks better on c4, it seems to me that anyone who would play 4.d3 against the Berlin should just play the Italian game instead of the Spanish".  Perhaps he's wrong.  Are there any advantages to having the bishop on b5 in these postions (or is there at least little difference)?
« Last Edit: 05/03/04 at 12:56:22 by Glenn Snow »  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #6 - 05/02/04 at 10:01:09
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In the lat few months, I've actually reinvestigated 4. d3 and find it to be very satisfactory for white. Effectively White will buiild up with c3, O-O, etc. and eventually play d4. What usually happens is that black plays d6 at one point or another and white can make a favorable transposition to a line of the Steinitz defense.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #5 - 02/26/04 at 19:23:46
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I agree with all this, but it is worth noting that 4.d3 was Short's choice recently ...
  

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Re: Berlin
Reply #4 - 02/26/04 at 18:00:47
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4. Nc3 is a variation of the Four Knights Defense (often labeled as the "Spanish Four Knights) while 4. d4 looks like it could be a Scotch or maybe even a 3. d4 Petroff! 4. d3 is the "quiet" handling of the position which, though solid, is not active enough for White if he wants to try and seize the initiative. Instead, why not 4. Qe2 which is kind of an "accelerated" worrall attack. (the line can transpose into a regular Worrall Attack, which is certainly not boring!) Nigel Short played the Worrall twice in his 1992 candidates match against Karpov. He won both games. Interestingly enough, Karpov has a whopping 16.7% score against the Worrall (two losses to Short in 1992 and a draw from 1969 World U20 championships) Tiviakov seems to favor this line against the Berlin and has scored 5/8 with it (+3 =4 -1) including draws against Ivanchuk and Khalifman so it certainly can't be a horrible line!

The only reason I can see for playing 4. O-O is if A) you know your opponent won't enter the "Berlin Endgame" or B) you are an endgame afficionado.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #3 - 02/25/04 at 07:40:55
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If Garri couldn't do it, it's doubtful if anyone here can...  ???

Luckily, there's nothing quite as boring after 2.f4! Cheesy
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #2 - 02/25/04 at 05:37:26
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Try buying a sharp knive to mow the spanish jungle down  Grin

No really, 4.Nc3 and 4.d4 are further alternatives.
  
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Re: Berlin
Reply #1 - 02/25/04 at 04:54:42
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Try 4.d3  Wink
  

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Berlin
02/25/04 at 02:02:32
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Any anti-Berlin experts here?
Can any one help me how to win the Berlin (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Ne4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bc6 dc6 7.de5...) as I could not find a way for White to get a advantage comfortably

Thanx
  
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