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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Modernised Berlin Wall (Read 5799 times)
Syzygy
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #50 - 05/14/20 at 04:27:47
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Jack Hughes wrote on 05/14/20 at 02:03:43:
They agree with you that this is a good way for white to kill the game (they're more excited about 9. d4 Ne8), saying that "Black can neutralise the White advantage, but it is difficult to obtain serious winning chances provided that white plays well". They give the mainline with 9... Ne8 against it.


I can understand that conclusion. I think the critical position of this variation occurs after 16. d3, which really doesn't look that threatening. But modern chess is modern chess, and after a logical continuation like 16...f5 17. Qf3 Nf6 18. a4!? I can't shake the feeling that Black is a tiny bit worse.

Jack Hughes wrote on 05/14/20 at 02:03:43:
The 'Crush the ...' name does at least give some indication as to the style of his courses. Crush the Semi-Slav recommends 5. Bg5 with a very aggressive surprise weapon against the Botvinnik (I don't think he would want me saying in public what it is at this point) and the Grischuk-Ding plan in the Anti-Moscow.


Grischuk-Ding was an interesting game demonstrating White's chances in the Anti-Moscow, but I think after the improvement 20...b4 21. Kh1 Ba6 White has to be just as careful as Black. Certainly correspondence games weren't able to prove anything beyond sufficient compensation for the piece.

Jack Hughes wrote on 05/14/20 at 02:03:43:
Crush the Italian recommends 3... Nf6 and spends considerable time analysing the sharpest lines (often really bad for white) in the 4. Ng5 complex and based on the course table of contents will recommend classical approaches based on an early ...a6 with considerable attention to (i) the standard g-pawn attack when white combines early kingside with h2-h3 and (ii) the ...Ng4 followed by ...f5 idea when white castles kingside and plays Re1 before h3.


Those are certainly aggressive plans for Black, and quite attractive if they can be pulled off. I'm in full agreement that the 4. Ng5 complex is becoming more and more attractive for Black (i.e. Gustafsson has analyzed Black's sharpest tries in his Chessable course), but in the Italian proper with ...a6 White doesn't need to be so cooperative.

For instance, after 5. O-O d6 6. c3 a6 7. a4 Ba7 8. Re1 I don't think the immediate 8...Ng4 works for Black, and following 8...O-O 9. h3, 9...Kh8 10. d4 cuts across Black's attacking plans. Of course Black should be fine after calmer continuations like 9...h6, but I don't think that will involve crushing anything anytime soon.


  
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Jack Hughes
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #49 - 05/14/20 at 02:03:43
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Syzygy wrote on 05/13/20 at 18:59:28:
When I was looking at the 5. Re1 lines in the Berlin, what bothered me the most was the lines with 7...Nxe5 8. Rxe5 O-O 9. Nc3, where White just goes for the bishop pair. Wherever I looked, it seemed that White at least maintained a symbolic edge. I would be happy to know how the upcoming Chessable course hopes to keep the game alive in this line, but I think in general neutralizing 4. d3 and 5. Re1 is a thankless task for Berlin Endgame fans.
Also, "Crush" the Semi-Slav and Italian? Really?

They agree with you that this is a good way for white to kill the game (they're more excited about 9. d4 Ne8), saying that "Black can neutralise the White advantage, but it is difficult to obtain serious winning chances provided that white plays well". They give the mainline with 9... Ne8 against it.

Obviously the names of those courses are a bit biased, but I think people familiar with his previous work (Crush the Taiamnov[/i, [i]Crush the London], Mop up the Morra know to expect that from him. It's not as if he's the first person to use such names (Winning with the Sicilian Dragon by Edward Dearing, How to Beat the Sicilian Defence by Gawain Jones, Slay the Spanish by Tim Taylor etc.

The 'Crush the ...' name does at least give some indication as to the style of his courses. Crush the Semi-Slav recommends 5. Bg5 with a very aggressive surprise weapon against the Botvinnik (I don't think he would want me saying in public what it is at this point) and the Grischuk-Ding plan in the Anti-Moscow; Crush the Italian recommends 3... Nf6 and spends considerable time analysing the sharpest lines (often really bad for white) in the 4. Ng5 complex and based on the course table of contents will recommend classical approaches based on an early ...a6 with considerable attention to (i) the standard g-pawn attack when white combines early kingside with h2-h3 and (ii) the ...Ng4 followed by ...f5 idea when white castles kingside and plays Re1 before h3.
  
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MW
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #48 - 05/13/20 at 19:18:52
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First-up I tried to transpose it into the two knights and after 4 d3 Be7, 5 0-0 0-0 6 Re1 I followed Bologan's recommendation 6....d6 (idea...Be6). Never really got into any trouble but just didn't feel familiar or passionate about the position. My last correspondence game with the line was 2018 and never really bothered looking at it again.
  
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Syzygy
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #47 - 05/13/20 at 18:59:28
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Jack Hughes wrote on 05/13/20 at 10:54:07:
On this topic I would like to note that there is an upcoming Chessable course, The Ambitious Berlin, being co-authored by Elijah Logozar and Yuriy Krykun ...They're also pretty honest about the dryness of the 5. Re1 line, but even there the focus is on trying, as best as possible, to keep life in the position. 


When I was looking at the 5. Re1 lines in the Berlin, what bothered me the most was the lines with 7...Nxe5 8. Rxe5 O-O 9. Nc3, where White just goes for the bishop pair. Wherever I looked, it seemed that White at least maintained a symbolic edge. I would be happy to know how the upcoming Chessable course hopes to keep the game alive in this line, but I think in general neutralizing 4. d3 and 5. Re1 is a thankless task for Berlin Endgame fans.

Also, "Crush" the Semi-Slav and Italian? Really?

MW wrote on 05/13/20 at 18:33:14:
Played the Berlin Wall in correspondence a bit and always felt pretty comfortable with it...then everyone started playing the Italian lines which I'm not a great fan of as black.


Out of curiosity, what bothers you the most about the Italian? My preference is currently for the ...a5 lines, gaining space on the queenside, which seems to be holding up in correspondence play quite well (especially with the trendy ...a4 ideas in the modern lines).

  
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #46 - 05/13/20 at 18:33:14
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Interesting....I check the Chessable "Coming Soon" page regularly but to-date don't recall seeing any mention of this title...

Played the Berlin Wall in correspondence a bit and always felt pretty comfortable with it...then everyone started playing the Italian lines which I'm not a great fan of as black.
  
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Jack Hughes
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #45 - 05/13/20 at 10:54:07
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On this topic I would like to note that there is an upcoming Chessable course, The Ambitious Berlin, being co-authored by Elijah Logozar and Yuriy Krykun. As the course title implies, their goal is to choose the lines that best enable black to play for the win. As an example, in the Endgame they recommend lines based on ...Kc8 plans. Having beta tested the course I have no qualms in saying that it is of very high quality, easily the best course of Logozar's that I have tested (the others being Crush the Taimanov, Crush the Italian, and Crush the Semi-Slav), and the explanations are generally pretty good. For the Endgame they are absolutely outstanding - the course contains a 74 variation long 'Structural Archetypes' chapter that I believe may have been heavily influenced by Cox (certainly Logozar has praised that book in the Chessable forums). They're also pretty honest about the dryness of the 5. Re1 line, but even there the focus is on trying, as best as possible, to keep life in the position. 

For fans of print I think I heard somewhere that they were trying to get the course published as a book as well, but I can't remember any further details. At any rate, I would regard their course as the best resource available on the Berlin right now for a club level player trying to improve their understanding and get winning chances.
  
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #44 - 05/13/20 at 10:04:49
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The endgame I think is excellent to play for Black. It is an incredibly rich position with chances for both sides, and IMO actually easier to handle for Black, as he has a pretty straightforward general piece setup, while White doesn't really know where any of his pieces belong.

Really, the main question is whether you can stomach 5.Re1 / find something that makes it interesting, as it's what you'll face in roughly 1/3 of the games (with 1/3 ending and 1/3 4.d3). As long as you don't mind the positions, I think the Berlin is a perfectly good choice.

Fressinet has a c24 video series on the Berlin, which presumably gives the most "cutting edge" current theory, but it's very light on explanations, and again offers the rather dry approach in the ending (this Be7 Nh4 stuff, instantly trading off pieces), which isn't to everyone's cup of tea. Still, at least for the 4.d3 and 5.Re1 lines, it probably delivers the best you can get.
  
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Lauri Torni
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #43 - 05/13/20 at 06:02:04
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Thanks for an ordinary chessplayer and nestor for comments.

Interesting to hear the opinion of grandmasters. This reminds me, by the way, Kasparov saying somewhere that amateurs should not play the sicilian.

I'm too old. I can dream to reach some day 2200 (not likely, my current rating is ca. 2100), but 2300 - no way. So in that sense anything goes. Obviously, however, I want to play openings that offer me best change to get enjoyable positions.
  

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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #42 - 05/13/20 at 03:55:19
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halbstark wrote on 05/11/20 at 19:48:26:
I would definetly not recommend this book, if you want to learn this opening.



Great review, thank you.


I also concur with Seeley and nestor that Cox's book remains the champion of learning and understanding the Berlin. Not 100% sure I agree that amateur's shouldn't learn it though.
  
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #41 - 05/13/20 at 00:05:42
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I'd concur with almost everything nestor writes, apart from the observation about the endgame being unsuitable for amateurs. I was also in the 2000-2200 Elo range when I studied the opening, but unlike nestor, I did end up playing it for a couple of seasons. I had a good record in the Berlin endgame itself, only losing once, and that was against a titled player who probably would have beaten me whatever I played. The Berlin endgame is much richer and more interesting than its reputation suggests. Black has various resources, and although the opening might usually lead to a draw at elite level, there are plenty of imbalances in the position, and certainly enough for Black to have decent prospects at lower levels of outplaying his opponent if he has a better understanding of what's going on.

nestor wrote on 05/12/20 at 19:20:13:
but then how often are you likely to see 4. OO Nxe4 5. Re1? This just seems prospectless for Black

This was precisely the problem. I ran into this enough times to put me off the Berlin altogether.

nestor wrote on 05/12/20 at 19:20:13:
The old Quality Chess book by John Cox still has by far and away the best investigation of the underlying principles of the Berlin endgame. I'm not at all sorry I spent some time with this book, even though I decided not to take up the defence.

I'd wholeheartedly endorse this observation: John Cox's book is superbly written and immensely readable. If you want to learn how to play the Berlin endgame, it's unsurpassed and indispensable.

  
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #40 - 05/12/20 at 19:20:13
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I seriously considered taking up the Berlin a while ago (and my playing strength is similar to yours). I decided against it. For one thing, the endgame is very difficult; a world class player once told me that it is just not suitable for amateurs, and Kramnik said much the same thing in an interview. Despite this advice I am sure you (or I) could learn to play it well enough for practical purposes, but then how often are you likely to see 4. OO Nxe4 5. Re1? This just seems prospectless for Black, and I haven't seen anything in a book to change my mind.

Having said all this, The Berlin Defence by Lysyj and Ovetchkin (Chess Stars, 2012) and The Berlin Defence Unraveled by Bernal (New in Chess, 2017) are both very good. Lysyj and Ovetchkin are a bit more academic; they cover only 9...Ke8 in the main endgame. Bernal is more conversational, and he covers different approaches to the endgame. The old Quality Chess book by John Cox still has by far and away the best investigation of the underlying principles of the Berlin endgame. I'm not at all sorry I spent some time with this book, even though I decided not to take up the defence.
  
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #39 - 05/12/20 at 15:07:46
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Lauri Torni wrote on 05/12/20 at 07:17:15:
2) Is the Berlin endgame suitable for an amateur having an  ELO-rating of say 2000-2200?

Yes the Berlin is fine. For some it might be perfect.

But your current Elo is only half the context. The other part is, where do you see yourself in five years?
  • 2200 : A semi-respectable sideline will give just as good results with a fraction of the effort. There are a lot to choose from. Many, many blacks have blazed those trails in bygone days.
  • 2300 : Similar, but occasionally struggling against titled players.
  • 2400 : You will need to get serious and learn a real main line -- in which case, you might as well start now.

RE "More comfortable for white". The Ruy Lopez is like that. It's a good opening, just like the Queen's Gambit. The important thing is to make sure your weaker whites can't play on autopilot while risking nothing. (Like in the Chigorin, where white can biff around for a long time with Nb1-d2-f1-g3, etc., without actually understanding anything.) If you go for a sideline, there is a lot of upside. Supposing your opponent knows the theory and/or plays very well, the end result should be ... "more comfortable for white".
  
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Lauri Torni
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #38 - 05/12/20 at 07:25:11
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duplicate
  

1.Nf3! -  beat your opponent by killing his zest for life.
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Lauri Torni
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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #37 - 05/12/20 at 07:17:15
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Having played the french whole of my "career" I consider adding 1.-e5 to my repertoire. I have played it in blitz last 1.5 years and actually feel more relaxed than in the french.

I still, however, haven't been totally happy with the main lines following 3.Bb5 a6. Marshall is not an option and other main lines are more comfortable for white.

Two questions

1) What is THE book to learn the Berlin Wall?

2) Is the Berlin endgame suitable for an amateur having an  ELO-rating of say 2000-2200? To my eye, for patzers like me, the position is clearly easier to play as white. Obviously, when your technique is good enough, black has his pluses.
  

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Re: Modernised Berlin Wall
Reply #36 - 05/11/20 at 21:11:48
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halbstark...thanks for all the effort you have put into your response. It is very insightful and helpful.
  
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