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The Berlin Pandemic

  • #1

    I play the Ruy Lopez as white, and when I see the Berlin, I quickly grin, wish I could just leave, and prepare for an endgame after 4.0-0. Now, I love endgames and have won quite a few times in the Berlin endgame, but I have the problem in that I love the bishop pair. So I ask you, what are trendy ways to play against this ever solid opening? I still think that white has an advantage after 0-0, but it is, well, the Berlin. All help is appreciated.

    BTW, for all you serious Berlin players out there who will defend this opening and say it's a forced win for black (yes, you people are out there), I totally respect you and am not trashing your opening. In fact, this article is sort of respect for the Berlin. On top of that, I sometimes feel the same way about the Grunfeld!

  • #2

    This looks like an average Berlin game. Initially take in an inferior position for the bishop pair and an over extended white pawn structure.

    I would agree that not many people know how to play the Berlin well (myself included).

  • #3

    I think it is a very common misconception that the Berlin is an "instant endgame."  The Queens and one pair of minors are exchanged right away, but that is just a "Queenless middlegame" until some more material comes off.

    It does lead to early endgames often, of course, from that reduced starting point, but there is plenty of play to be created along the way.

    The big attraction of the Berlin for Black isn't that it is a "forced win" or even advantageous for Black, that's nonsense.  But even if White ends up winning, it isn't going to be through one of those overpowering Kingside attacks the White players are aiming to get.

  • #4

    The most trendy way currently is to avoid the berlin endgame with 4. d3 black can either play d6 (kind of passive) but most black players will play Bc5. The bishop c5 variations gives white a chance to play for the bishop pair with the manouvre Nb1 -> c3 -> a4 but prepared black players will not allow it of course.

    Often these positions will start to resemble Italian lines with d3 as black often plays a6/Ba7 and white Ba4/Bc2

  • #5

    Yes Estragon you are correct.

  • #6

    I have seen this idea of the bishop exchange before in the Berlin, albeit I have seen 6.b3 instead of 6.h3 in Dangerous Weapons, The Ruy Lopez. There is also the interesting gambit in the main line Berlin 4.0-0, Nxe4 5.d4, Nd6 6.Ba4, but I'm not entirely sure if it's sufficient. Of course it has good practical chances, however.


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