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So, the above line in the Berlin defense seems to be one of the more critical tries for white. I have looked at several videos on this position, with analysis ranging from the opinion that white is clearly winning to the opinion that the position is dead even. I am looking at his mostly from Black's perspective, so see if the Berlin is perhaps a way I might like to meet the Ruy Lopez, and I don't think I would be completly comfortable with this position. Although the Queens have been exchanged, the black king is in the center with an open position and white certainly has an edge in King safty. The Berlin has a great reputation as being very solid (and drawish at master level), but I am wondering if that might perhaps be with some other variation. I have ventured the Nxe4 variation in a few games now, but I think I have run into sub-optimal play from my opponents thus far. 5 d4 troubles me.
Hello Sofademon. When my opponent play 3...,Nf6, now i play the simply 4.d3. The Berlin "Wall" is very difficult to play for me, then that's immediately a endgame. I play the Ruy-Lopez for the great many tactical and strategy idea in the middlegame, so if i accept to play again the Berlin open variation, i can not play my style. But, i have play some games again the open line and for me, the line 9...,Ne7 with the idea to going with the King in the Queenside (b7 square) is the most critical line.
I'd like to see a link to a master claiming that this position is clearly won for white, and I'd also like to see some example lines.
I agree, the opening has a strong reputaion as being solid and drawish at master level. But I am also uncomfortable with the fact that black's king is stuck in the center in a wide open position.
I was just tyring to point out that the vidoes that I had found poking about the internet were very mixed in their evaluation of the position. Which is not surpising, anyone with a pulse, a microphone, and chessbase can put an opening theory video on youtube. I was really looking for someone who could perhaps reasure me that this position is really as solid/drawish as some say it is, as I was considering it as a way to reply to the ruy lopez. I am sure I lack the experience to understand much of the positional subtly here, but I would be pretty happy as white with this.
I've played the Berlin in several games, but as you may know, very few people actually play d4 going into the ending (most play Re1). As for the position in the diagram, I think white is better, but not by much and black has plenty of chances to win at our level (unlike those GM games where it is used as a drawing weapon).
i would play 9.Bg5 as white
It might be used by GMs to draw, but it is definitely harder to play for black than for white. The black player has to be careful not to fall victim to tactics exposing his central king (e.g. with Re1/Ng5/e6), or allow white to create a passed pawn with his kingside majority, or lose his bishop pair, etc.
I'm not sure what you're looking for in a defence against the Ruy, but for winning chances this isn't your answer, and neither is it for an 'easy' draw (the Petrov would be better to that extent, but is more theoretical).
A clear sign that this person doesn't understand the Berlin Wall. "Losing the Bishop Pair", if lost the right way, is a pipe dream for Black. If White makes a naive move like Re1, Black is in heaven. Bb4!! gets Black his most desirable trade. Black throws away his dark-squared Bishop for White's Knight. The Berlin is all about stopping g4, and subsequently, stopping the mobility of White's pawn majority. White typically ends up with pawns on e5, f4, g2, and h3. The Knight on c3 can move to the Kingside to aid in the g4 push. The Dark-Squared Bishop of Black's can't do anything to prevent it, and so Black throws away a useless piece for a useful one. It also leads Black to one of his 3 most desirable endings in the Berlin with 8.Qxd8, namely DSB vs LSB, N vs LSB, or DSB vs N. Black gets the rooks off, and one of these 3 is very likely as the OCB's likely won't be traded as that's hard to do anyway. More typical is Black trades his LSB for White's Knight, leading to the DSB vs N scenario, White trades his DSB for Black's Knight, leading to the N vs LSB scenario, or the Knights are traded off, in which you then have OCB's.
Black's best minor piece in the Berlin - The Light Squared-Bishop
Black's worst minor piece in the Berlin - The Dark-Squared Bishop
The Bishop Pair isn't what many player make it out to be in the Berlin!
The position after 9.Nc3 is a chameleon. Black can
1. Play very solidly (and unambitiously) for a draw: 9...Ke8 10.h3 Be7.
Covered by GM Kritz in a recent Chessbase DVD
2. Slightly more ambitiously, not conceding space to white, at the cost of some dark-squared weaknesses: 9...Ke8 10.h3 h5.
Covered by GM Igor Lysyj in a very fresh book (Chess Stars Publishing).
3. Start playing immediately against the e5 pawn at the cost of losing more time: 9...Ne7
Covered by an older book by IM John Kox.
4. Preparing artificial queenside castling, and keeping all options open: 9...Bd7
And these are NOT the only options for Black in this extremely rich and complex queenless middlegame.
With the exclusion of the 9...Ke8 10.h3 Be7 variation, which is rather easy to play, provided that Black has undestood a few fundamentals of the position, the others are extremely technical for amateur players to handle properly (both colors).
Here's Judit beating the Berlin defence last year
This game shows how difficult this middlegame is.
Judit's 20.e6 is somewhat questionable (instead of the natural 20.Nc3 with a tiny edge) but she was rewarded immediately by 20...Bxe6? which leaves Black in a very bad shape (effectively losing a pawn for no compensation).
The other capture (in order to have room for the king and activate the dormant h8 rook quickly) was the right choice: 20...fe6! 21.Bxc7 Bb7 22.Nfg5 Rh6 (22...Nd4 looks OK, too) 23.Bb8 Rg6 24.f4 a6 and Ftacnik estimates the position as nearly equal (and probably 24...Bf6!? 25.Bxa7 Bd4+ 26.Kh1 Ne3 is an improvement).
That's pretty neat how you analyse things so fast, pfren
Actually the best part of this analysis is from Chessbase Magazine, but I have worked on it some one month ago.
Oh. I remember watching the game between Judit and Sergey last year, and I didn't understand the strategy or how deep it was until the last move: luring the black king as far away as possible so Judit could win the pawn ending on the other side of the board. So clever, and very informative!
Vladimar Kramnik is an advocate of this as black
"His [Kramnik's] faith in the Rio De Janeiro Variation [the line in question] in the Spanish Game, his main weapon in his title match against Kasparov [which he won], turned out to be justified. Although the line had a reputation for being a bit dubious, hard work in the chess laboratory determined that it is playable. White certainly seems to stand better, but Kramnik showed that it is very, very hard to defeat."
Actually the label "Rio de Janeiro Variation" belongs to the old mainline 5.d4 Be7 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 bc6 8.de5 Nb7 which is not that popular currently. Anyway it isn't bad at all, Volodya Malakhov is employing it in a regular basis with pretty decent results. He is probably the strongest "amateur" player in the world (rated currently 2712, and working regularly as a nuclear physicist).
Instead of 10.h3 White should go for simplifications more directly (10.Ne2!, and now as soon as a black bishop occurs on e6: Nf4! or Nd4!. According to good old Philidor White is supposed to battle the pieces which hinder their (potential) passed pawn from advancing, so instead of 10.h3?! I think 10.Ne2! goes for this idea more directly.
But then, again, I'm very bad at constructing good positional plans, so this 10.Ne2 is maybe a blunder.
In my database it was rarely played but it scores 57%, which is very good imo.
I don't get the reasoning behind 10.h3?!, to me - aside from slightly weakening the kingside, it looks like a useless waste of a time.
So maybe it's really as early as move_10, where White can find improvements.
Here a more 'visual' version of this idea:
What are the drawbacks of this idea 10.Ne2?
What is the purpose of 10.h3? Sure the strong masters don't think that it's a waste of a time?
Thanks for tipps, although I'm a Ruy player I've not yet studied the Berlin in detail, because it's rarely played.
10.h3 is very natural, white simply wants to mobilize his k-side pawn majority with g2-g4 and then going according to black's reply.
10.Ne2 is played quite often, but it's not considered critical. The simplest answer is probably 10...b6 which was employed a few times by Aronian. And in any case, most of the times h2-h3 follows even after 10.Ne2, so...
4.d3 not going into the Berlin endgame has been played sucessfully by Anand and Ivanchuk. Kasparov has showed some regret at not trying 4.d3 in his match with Kramnik.
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