- Paperback: 324 pages
- Publisher: Quality Chess Europe AB (15 Aug. 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9185779024
- ISBN-13: 978-9185779024
- Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 1.8 x 23.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 838,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Berlin Wall: The Variation That Brought Down Kasparov Paperback – 15 Aug 2008
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"You learn so much about chess from reading this book it is amazing! It is incredibly well-written."Carsten Hansen, ChessCafe
About the Author
John Cox is a lawyer and International Master from London. He is an experienced author whose previous books have received high praise.
Top Customer Reviews
After Kasparov's difficulties facing Kramnik's Berlin Wall, this opening is fast becoming more and more popular lately. Recently (July 2013) Michael Adams beat Caruana with it at Dortmund. (Adams in fact went on to win the tournament itself).
The author, IM John Cox, does a fantastic job here with his presentation of the material. What I really like about his approach is that he stresses UNDERSTANDING of the resulting positions - rather than yet another opening theory variation dump type of book. Even if you have no interest in playing this opening the book is still worth getting.
Cox divides the book into two sections. Part 1 is "Understanding the Berlin Wall". Part 2 is "The Theory of the Berlin Wall."
And he doesn't skimp on Part 1. For example, Chapter 2 ("Typical Berlin Endings") considers 18 different possible types of ending that can ensue. Part 1 alone Is worth the price of the book.
Part 1 is comprised of:-
Chapter 1 - Positional Introduction (8 pages)
Chapter 2 - Typical Berlin Endings (58 pages)
Chapter 3 - Positional Themes (60 pages)
Part 2 is comprised of:-
Chapter 4 ...Ne7 Systems without h3 (18 pages)
Chapter 5 ...Ne7 Systems with h3 (22 pages)
Chapter 6 ...Ne7 Systems without an immediate ...Ng6 (24 pages)
Chapter 7 ...Bd7 Systems (28 pages)
Chapter 8 ...Be7 Systems (22 pages)
Chapter 9 ...Berlin Endgame: White Alternatives and Miscellaneous Black Systems (24 pages)
Chapter10 ...White Plays 4.Read more ›
The book is devided in two parts.
The first part will teach you the typical endgames that will result from this tactical opening, and the typical middlegame plans.
The second part deals with the variations, grouped by themes rather that as a tree of variations. This section is also carefully anotated with an emphasis on the typical plans you need to know to play this opening.
The concept of the book perfectly matches the character of the Berlin Defence, as this defence does not require the memorization of long sharp lines, but to have a good understanding of how to handle these positions and which typical plans apply: which pieces to exchange and which pawn structure to strive for.
Recommended without any reservations.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
How many times have you read about an opening book claiming to focus on ideas and been disappointed? Well, this time you won't be. Cox spends some 130 pages on deep deep explanatory material before he even starts talking theory. Now this isn't an easy opening and it's going to take alot of work to absorb all the positional motifs and endgame subtleties and piece evaluations, but the material is there for you. The book has done its job to perfection - the rest is up to you.
You learn which pieces are valuable and for what reason, which trades are advantageous, what plans White will likely adopt and how to counter them, which pawn moves are appropriate in which cases, how to position your King, how to coordinate your pieces to blockade White's pawn majority, specific recurrent tactical motifs, and I could go on and on.
Cox offers repertoire coverage of three systems of development after the initial position, Kramnik's ...Bd7 against Kasparov, Kaufman's ...Be7, and the contemporary ...Ne7, each of which has a different character. He does not offer coverage of divergences before 3...Nf6 but refers you to Mihail Marin's Beating the Open Games (outstanding itself, but in a different style).
Now I mentioned that it is not easy material. Some of the endgame discussions, for example, assume you have a clue, which in my case was a bit optimistic, but even in those cases it offers great material for study and analysis so that you can come to understand his points as you improve. The third endgame study, to offer one example, passes over a long corresponding squares sequence (I think) without comment. There is still enough simple material though for modest players to get their money's worth many times over straight out of the gate.
The Berlin is one Ruy that you might actually get to play, given that it has a short entry sequence. If you don't get that far then Mihail Marin's wonderful book has your back. The combination is a remarkable collection of material that will help any player learn and play the open games seriously and with growing confidence. You really couldn't ask for more.
+ Very well-written, an absolute pleasure to read
+ Completely changed my mind about this opening, after reading this book
+ With Kramnik having beaten Kasparov with the Berlin, this is a durable choice as well, even if you get to the GM level
- There is an annoying "bug" in the book which causes many punctuation marks to be missing, which makes it a bit less of a pleasure to read
- As for the opening, it is not the most convenient in the sense that there are many enormous sidelines: before you get to the Berlin on the 8th move, white could already have deviated in many ways, and black has to be prepared for those sidelines as well. (Many of these sidelines are covered in this book as well though, but e.g. you may also face the Scotch, the Italian game, the King's gambit etc.)
But what is more surprising is the reason the author gives for doing that. He said that the things covered in the last two chapters occur more at club level, whereas the variation he covers in the bulk of the book is more common in international level!
In other words, the book is not for us, club players.
It's for international masters. I wonder if I were an international master if I'd need a book like that. I'd have my own files.
This also begs an interesting (rhetorical)question:
who in the ultimate analysis actually supports this lucrative industry of chess potboilers? We do. But the book is for his peers. I had a teacher in graduate
school that told me that 98% of technical books are written by authors just to show off to their peers.
And I thought he was too radical!
Another thing you have to be prepared to read this book is to tackle the English. The book is written in extremely poor English. There are a lot of run-on sentences. You have to stop in the middle of several sentences and start reading them again trying to find the separation between the ideas because there is no punctuation at all. It's terrible. And the funny thing is that the back cover of the book tells us this author is a lawyer!
I keep thinking about this guy writing a petition to a judge in this kind of English. Has he ever won a case in court?
In the first part of the book he examines the various endgames that may arise - the pawn ending, rook ending, double rook, knight vs bishop, bishop vs knight, other bishop vs knight, etc.
However, the Berlin Wall doesn't directly lead to these endgames, but to a queenless middlegame. Thus the next part is devoted to showing numerous examples of typical positional themes and tactical blows.
The final chapters deal with the opening theory - and Cox looks at alot of lines and variations, practically all of black's (and white's) tries get a look.
The only small problem I had was that often, in the notes to a game, punctuation would be forgotten, which sometimes makes it a bit hard to understand where Cox is coming from. But overall this book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the Berlin Wall defense.